Guide To the Proposal to List Atlantic Salmon
NEFSC Press Release

Some Basics on

ESA Listing

George Liles
PH: (508) 495-2378
- or -
Teri Frady
PH: 508 495-2258

Guide 00-01

NMFS Northeast Region


The Logic of Listing

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 defines an endangered species as one “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”

The ESA requires the secretaries of Interior and Commerce to conduct a review of the status of the species and take into account those efforts being made by any state or foreign nation to protect the species. After that review, the secretaries are required to make listing determinations based solely on the best scientific and commercial data available.

When the services published the proposal to list (November 17, 1999), the directors of FWS and NMFS noted that the survival of wild salmon is in doubt despite significant efforts that have been made to recover the species.

“While Maine’s existing conservation plan is vital to recovering the species, it doesn’t adequately address the increasing threats salmon are facing from aquaculture, fish disease, habitat modification and catch-and-release fishing,” said FWS Director Jamie Rappaport Clark.

NMFS Director Penny Dalton called on the services, the state, and the conservation community to “intensify efforts to ensure juvenile and adult survival by providing suitable habitat, and by remaining vigilant in our efforts to address new threats posed by genetic disruption and disease.”

Factors in Deciding Whether a Species is Endangered or Threatened

* the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range

* overutilization for commercial, recreation, scientific or educational purposes

* disease or predation

* inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms

* other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence

Factors Influencing the Proposal To List Atlantic Salmon

* the presence of salmon swimbladder sarcoma virus (SSSV) in parr collected from one river and in hatchery-held brood stock

* the finding of infectious salmon anemia (ISA) in wild salmon in Canada and in netpen sites ten miles from U.S. waters

* the small number of adult salmon returning to spawn in the eight rivers

* low survival rates for young salmon in the rivers

* the potential for interbreeding with and competition from farm-raised salmon

* the expanded use of European strain salmon in aquaculture facilities, where 30-50% is now thought to be either pure or hybrid European stock

What the ESA says about a DPS

The ESA considers “any distinct population segment (DPS) of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife that interbreeds when mature” to be a species.

The ESA extends protection to a DPS in part to preserve genetic diversity important to the species’ survival.

A “distinct population segment” is a population that (1) is “discrete” (to some extent separated from the remainder of the species or subspecies), and (2) is “significant” (biologically and ecologically).

At one time, Atlantic salmon DPSs probably existed in Long Island Sound and Central New England. Today, the only remaining U.S. Atlantic salmon DPS is in the Gulf of Maine.

The Gulf of Maine DPS includes all coastal watersheds north of, and including tributaries of, the lower Kennebec River (below Edwards Dam) to the mouth of the St. Croix River at the U.S./Canada border. At least eight rivers in the Gulf of Maine DPS range still contain functioning Atlantic salmon populations: the Dennys, East Machias, Machias, Pleasant, Narraguagus, Ducktrap, and Sheepscot Rivers and Cove Brook.

Based on the 1999 Status Review by the biological review team, NMFS and FWS recommend

* continued implementation of the Maine Conservation Plan to facilitate recovery and to serve as the foundation of a federal recovery plan

* designation of critical habitat

* listing under the ESA

NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service * One Blackburn Drive * Gloucester, MA * 01930
Link disclaimer | Email webmaster | Privacy policy |     File Modified Nov 24, 2004