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Four organizations will receive a total of $1.2 million from the federal government to help restore habitats for endangered Atlantic salmon in the Gulf of Maine.
In addition to making ecological improvements, the restoration projects are expected to produce other benefits, including better public safety, greater opportunities for recreational and commercial fisheries, and job creation in rural parts of the state.
The money comes through the National Marine Fisheries Service, a department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Gulf of Maine has a distinct population segment of Atlantic salmon that is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Considered an iconic species of the Northeast, they once returned by the hundreds of thousands to most major rivers along the northeastern U.S.
Today they only return in small numbers to rivers in central and eastern Maine. The species has been listed as endangered since 2000 due to threats from dams, pollution, and historic overfishing.
Atlantic salmon are vulnerable to many stressors and threats, dams and culverts that block or impede the migratory movements between freshwater spawning and rearing habitats and the marine environment, habitat degradation, foreign fisheries and poor marine survival.
They are considered an indicator species or a “canary in the coal mine,” which means that the health of the species is directly affected by its ecosystem health. When a river ecosystem is clean and well-connected, its salmon population is typically healthy and robust. When a river ecosystem is not clean or well-connected, its salmon population will usually decline.
Habitat restoration helps repair areas that have been destroyed by development, blocked by dams, or otherwise subjected to habitat destruction.
The funding will support four ongoing habitat restoration efforts:
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