Despite State of Maine concerns, FWS and NOAA determine Atlantic Salmon DPS to be an endangered species
74 Fed. Reg. 29344 / Vol. 74, No. 117 / Friday, June 19, 2009 / Rules and Regulations
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR / Fish and Wildlife Service / 50 CFR Part 17 / DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / 50 CFR Part 224 / Endangered and Threatened Species; Determination of Endangered Status for the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic Salmon
SUMMARY: We (NMFS and USFWS, collectively referred to as the Services) have determined that naturally spawned and conservation hatchery populations of anadromous Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) whose freshwater range occurs in the watersheds from the Androscoggin River northward along the Maine coast to the Dennys River, including those that were already listed in November 2000, constitute a distinct population segment (DPS) and hence a ‘‘species’’ for listing. We have determined that the Gulf of Maine (GOM) DPS warrants listing as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Critical habitat for the GOM DPS will be designated in a subsequent Federal Register notice. DATES: This rule is effective July 20, 2009.
Gulf of Maine Atlantic salmon migrate vast distances in the open ocean to reach feeding areas in the Davis Strait between Labrador and Greenland, a distance over 4,000 km from their natal rivers. During their time at sea, Atlantic salmon undergo a period of rapid growth until they reach maturity and return to their natal river. Most Atlantic salmon (about 90 percent) from the Gulf of Maine return after spending 2 winters at sea; usually less than ten percent return after spending 1 winter at sea; roughly one percent of returning salmon are either repeat spawners or have spent 3 winters at sea (3 sea winter, or 3SW salmon). In addition to anadromous Atlantic salmon, landlocked Atlantic salmon have been introduced to many lakes and rivers in Maine, though they are only native to four watersheds in the State. Photo from NOAA.
KEITHINKING: State officials were pleading with the federal agencies for a threatened listing, rather than an endangered listing of the DPS. In a joint statement, as quoted in The Exception Magazine, U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) were highly critical of the federal decision. “Today's decision to expand the endangered species listing of Atlantic salmon to encompass the massive Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Penobscot River basins turns a blind eye to the monumental efforts of the state of Maine to restore thousands of miles of ecosystem, ignores the mortality of the species at sea, and fails to specifically address the adverse economic impacts an endangered species listing of this magnitude can have on an already fragile economy. This listing could not come at a worse time for the many businesses within the protected watershed areas who are struggling amidst a global economic recession and will now have to worry about significant compliance costs.” All American Patriots reported Maine Governor John E. Baldacci to be equally frustrated. “The extreme approach chosen by the Federal government hamstrings the State’s ability to use creative conservation efforts that have been successful in the past."