Will Work on
NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center
N E W SWoods Hole, Mass. – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has opened a new field research station on Main Street in Orono, Maine. A nine-person team will use the station as a base to study Atlantic salmon in all phases of their lives.
"Our scientists have been a part of the salmon research effort in Maine for years, but the continued decline of the stocks has added urgency to this research," said Michael Sissenwine, science and research director for NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center. "With the field station, we are making it easier for our staff to support not only our studies, but also those of Maine agencies and organizations with whom we are working to recover Atlantic salmon."
"We are grateful for the continuing support of NOAA Fisheries in our collaborative efforts to restore Maine's Atlantic salmon populations," said Fred Kircheis, executive director of Maine's Atlantic Salmon Commission. "NOAA's new presence in Orono will be in close proximity to the ASC offices in Bangor and to continuing research programs at the University of Maine. This will make liaison between researchers much more effective and will support our efforts to take a team approach to recovering Atlantic salmon."
The field station staff will include a fisheries biologist who will help agencies, companies, and individuals with permitting issues related to the listing of Atlantic salmon under the Endangered Species Act. Two other NOAA Fisheries salmon biologists will work out of a research station at Little Falls on the Narraguagus River.
The federal science team will be led by John Kocik, who has worked full time on Atlantic salmon for NOAA Fisheries out of Woods Hole, Mass., since 1992 and will be moving to Maine as part of his new responsibilities. Kocik earned a doctorate in fisheries and wildlife science from Michigan State University, and focused both his masters and doctorate work on salmon.
"The ASC has had an excellent working relationship with Dr. Kocik and his associates," Kircheis said. "We look forward to building upon that relationship now that they will be physically closer to the research locations."
All phases of the salmon life cycle are being explored in varied, but related, efforts by researchers from the ASC, NOAA Fisheries, other federal agencies, and private organizations. For example, this year NOAA Fisheries and the ASC are collaborating on projects to assess smolt abundance in four Maine rivers, assess and monitor juvenile populations in the eight Maine rivers where endangered populations are found, estimate the number of adult salmon returning to four Maine rivers and count the nests built by spawners, assess the salmon populations in the Penobscot River (not currently listed as endangered), and study the stream discharge and water temperatures in several Maine rivers.
Meanwhile, five NOAA Fisheries scientists in Woods Hole, Mass., will continue to work on international salmon studies, the marine and estuarine phases of the salmon life cycle, salmon diseases, and models for estimating the size of salmon populations.
The NOAA Fisheries salmon field research station is part of this year's $4.8 million salmon research and conservation program. The program also includes $800,000 of direct support to the state of Maine for its salmon programs, and funds for other grants and contracts to agencies and organizations working in Maine.
Information on the life history of Atlantic salmon and efforts to protect these fish under the Endangered Species Act is available online at NOAA Fisheries' Atlantic salmon Web page (begin with "Guide To the Listing" under "What's New").