Veazie Salmon Club Wants a Catch & Release Season for Atlantic Salmon

Recently a letter went out to Maine’s Congressional leaders asking for support to help move the Federal “Endangered” listing to “Threatened”.

Following  is the letter. 

Hope this note finds you well! You are receiving this letter on behalf of The Veazie Salmon Club and a very large contingent of sportsmen across our State. Specifically reaching out to plead for your support in helping Maine overturn the Endangered Species listing on the Atlantic Salmon and move it to a “Threatened” listing.

Our argument is the original Endangered listing for Atlantic Salmon was on the genetically “Wild” species which was a 100% self-sustaining population. Scientific evidence exists which shows 100% genetically “wild” salmon are gone. Our prior self-sustaining “wild” salmon genetics have been replaced with hatchery raised Atlantic Salmon. If a hatchery genetic Atlantic Salmon now leaves the Penobscot River to head for Greenland and later returns it is then classified as “wild”? If the genetically “wild” salmon population is completely extinct why should all Atlantic Salmon remain listed as Endangered? The 100% self-sustaining Atlantic Salmon are gone.

Through numerous forms of continuing hatchery science from egg collection to pen & tank raising and release strategies Atlantic salmon will continue to survive. Many factors continue to “Threaten” today’s Atlantic Salmon, but data shows that the hatcheries, commercial fishing restrictions, and environmental recovery efforts are having positive effects on population.

Canada and other countries have continued to list the Atlantic salmon as Threatened. For decades they have allowed limited cold water catch & release fishing seasons. Maine has been excluded from the socio-economic benefits that Canada and other countries have enjoyed. For decades Atlantic salmon fishing brought commerce and international notoriety to Maine. We strongly feel a limited catch & release season with strict rules emulating our Canadian neighbors would bring positive social and economic benefits.

Maine State and many Federal biologists working on the salmon program in Maine (and most familiar with it) argued for the “Threatened” (not Endangered) designation but were not heeded by those in DC responsible for the listing. This does not make them bad people. They likely felt obligated to list as “Endangered” based on the language and political climate at the time.

Nobody has ever presented a well-supported argument that the estimated mortality (2%) from a properly executed COLD WATER (<70°) catch and release fishery on the Penobscot would have any measurable effect on the genetic viability or recovery potential of the salmon population. The federal U.S. Fisheries & Wildlife state that a 2% incidental mortality by anglers cannot be tolerated. Yet annually our federal government (FERC) allows twice that mortality (5%) at each and every hydro dam!  Not logical.

Re-opening a limited cold water (<70°) catch & release Atlantic Salmon season is well-deserved for the citizens of Maine, our sportsmen, and the local business communities. We at the Veazie Salmon Club invite you to come visit us anytime to discuss how to get this goal achieved. Please heavily consider the incredible Maine history that would be made if citizens of Maine could cast once again for an Atlantic Salmon in the mighty Penobscot River.

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