Save the Atlantic Salmon
Maine is home to the last wild Atlantic salmon populations in the United States, but the endangered fish are nearly extinct in the Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers, which provide key spawning habitat and migration routes. We’ve turned to the courts to protect the salmon and our natural heritage.
Unprotected dams push salmon to the brink
The Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers once teemed with salmon runs of 100,000 or more — but now almost no Atlantic salmon return to the rivers each year.
Unprotected turbines at dams along the rivers are among the leading causes of the declining salmon populations. The dams kill and injure migrating salmon when they attempt to pass through the dams’ rotating blades — akin to having fish swim through the rotating blades of a giant window fan.
To make matters worse, dam owners have refused to implement simple protection measures that have been successfully adopted elsewhere, such as installing effective devices to divert salmon from turbines.
Environment Maine sues to save the salmon
With the number of Atlantic salmon perilously low, the need for action to protect the fish and their habitat is urgent.
In early 2011, Environment Maine and Friends of Merrymeeting Bay sued multiple dam owners and operators on the rivers for failing to take simple, inexpensive measures to protect the salmon.
Since the salmon populations in both rivers are on the Endangered Species List, the dam owners’ negligence violates federal law.
This summer, in a preliminary victory, the courts rejected attempts by the power companies to dismiss the cases.
- The Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers once teemed with salmon runs of 100,000 or more — but now almost no Atlantic salmon return to the rivers each year.
- In 2011, only 63 adult salmon returned to the Kennebec and 47 to the Androscoggin.
- With time running out to save the salmon, Environment Maine turned to the courts and has sued multiple power companies to protect the salmon and our natural heritage.