Uncertain Future for New Hampshire's Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program.
The future of the long-running, but unsuccessful, attempt to bring Atlantic salmon back to the Merrimack River, New Hampshire is struggling to stay afloat one year after the federal government pulled the plug on similar efforts on the Connecticut River.
Source: Nashua Telegraph:
The Nashua Telegraph reports that if the Merrimack River program does shut, it would raise questions about the Adopt-a-Salmon school program as well as the future status of the National Fish Hatchery in Nashua, which is central to the salmon restoration efforts.
Rumors are flying that funding via the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will be cut, even though the program is slated to continue at least two more years. No official statement has been released, but several people connected to or knowledgeable about the program expressed concerns this week, some off the record.
“Our suspicion and our concern is that it’s going to be ended,” George Embley of Webster, a state official with Trout Unlimited commented. Embley will represent Trout Unlimited at a Thursday meeting of the policy committee overseeing the restoration program in the Merrimack River. On the agenda is, ‘Atlantic salmon restoration: Status and proposed agency action.’
“We will make a formal statement that we strongly support continuation of the program through at least July 2015,” he said.
The program is a multi-agency attempt to return the species to New England waterways. It involves New Hampshire Fish & Game as well as two Massachusetts agencies and three federal groups that deal with fisheries and wildlife.
The salmon program’s termination would hurt the Nashua National Fish Hatchery, which holds hundreds of adult salmon and thousands of young fish. The few female salmon that return from the ocean up the Merrimack River are caught at the Essex Dam in Lawrence, Mass., and trucked to Nashua, where their eggs are removed and raised into thousands of young fish. Those young fish are then stocked in several rivers throughout New England, in an attempt to kick-start natural populations and to provide targets for fishermen.
The hatchery is also the focus of the Adopt-a-Salmon school program, in which thousands of children throughout southern New Hampshire raise young salmon that they release into select rivers – including the Souhegan River, until recently – as part of environmental studies.
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