Salmon eggs belong in many river baskets

Posted Feb. 05, 2009, at 10:37 p.m.

The recent news of the salmon egg die-off at the federal government’s Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery is most disturbing to all those in the fisheries community. Within the hatchery, only those eggs harvested from Penobscot River salmon have been affected, even though the facility uses the same water, procedures and monitoring for all its eggs. So far, biologists are bewildered by this disastrous event.

We all should be concerned, as this type of occurrence could have many implications and reach farther than just the salmon species. It also brings home the realization of the many unknowns and uncertainties that are left unobserved to which only Mother Nature bears witness.

This event raises questions and concerns that need answers, answers that could have great significance. It also indicates the vulnerabilities of hatcheries in spite of the best efforts of their personnel. In this case, the backup supply of eggs averted a disaster, a sagacious plan and a good program. But to eliminate additional prob-lematic variables, it would be wise to expand beyond the framework of a few large hatcheries and have individual hatcheries on each river.

Raising fish on location in their river specific waters might diminish some problems and risks associated with the larger offsite operations. Any living creature has a better chance of survival closer to its own element. That’s not to say the larger hatchery isn’t serving a purpose, but it’s better not to have all your eggs in one basket.

This event also reinforces the work that the Downeast Salmon Federation is doing at the Wild Salmon Resource Center in Columbia Falls. It further supports our efforts at creating the East Machais Aquatic Research Center. We raise salmon fry in the Wild Salmon center and plan to do the same at the East Machias center. We could even expand these operations on all the Down East rivers with the possibility of holding the young salmon until they are smolts.

In other regions of the world, local activity of this nature has led to successful salmon restoration. Those local efforts have also led to greater community awareness, involvement and support. It is this type of success that

the Downeast Salmon Federation and I believe can result in many positive implications beyond that of greater numbers of salmon. Healthy rivers breed healthy communities for both the fish and people.

I commend the personnel at Craig Brook Hatchery for their diligence. They are deserving of our support. We would like to help in expanding their efforts and diversify onto our rivers. The possibilities bring promise to both the salmon fishery and our Down East communities.

Alan R. Kane is president of the board of directors of the Downeast Salmon Federation.

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