Atlantic Salmon Restoration

Atlantic salmon were once so abundant throughout New England's watersheds that hundreds of thousands of these wild fish migrated in and out of our rivers each year. Over the last two centuries, dams, overfishing, excessive logging, shoreline development, pollution, and industrial water withdrawals have degraded rivers, streams, and oceans critical to the salmon's survival. As a result, fewer than 2,000 salmon return annually to their spawning grounds in New England-barely 1 percent of the historic population. Today, the only remaining wild Atlantic salmon runs in our country are in a handful of Maine rivers and streams.

In 1993, RESTORE: The North Woods took action to save from extinction the last remaining wild Atlantic salmon in the U.S. RESTORE petitioned the federal government to use the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect the Atlantic salmon as endangered throughout its historic range in the United States. For years, the fisheries agencies dragged their feet while the number of fish continued to dwindle. And the State of Maine has waged a legal battle to thwart national protection for this unique species.

RESTORE's work to protect the salmon broke the silence. In recent years, several other state and national conservation groups have joined the effort, including Atlantic Salmon Federation, Conservation Action Project, Defenders of Wildlife, and Trout Unlimited. Thanks to this work the federal agencies have listed the Atlantic salmon as "endangered" under the ESA.

However, this is not the end of the fight to save the wild Atlantic salmon. Big industry, anti-environmental activists, and politicians in Maine continue to fight against it. The public must demand that the Atlantic salmon be restored, or else these critical steps forward might be lost once again. Please contact your state and federal officials and let them know you want them to save the wild Atlantic salmon.

  Photo by William Hartley, US Fish & Wildlife