|A leaping salmon statue graces Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery. Photo credit: Atlantic Salmon Federation|
This week we celebrate a significant milestone – the 125th Anniversary of Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery (NFH) in Maine. Since 1889, Craig Brook has been the linchpin of efforts to conserve Atlantic salmon across the Gulf of Maine watershed.
In a larger sense, Craig Brook’s evolution over the past 125 years mirrors the continual evolution and reinvention of wildlife conservation in the United States. Like the Fish and Wildlife Service, the hatchery has continually innovated and reinvented itself to adapt to changing conservation needs and values.
Craig Brook began by raising and stocking salmon in the nearby Penobscot River.
|Charles Atkins transferring salmon at Whitemore’s Point, on Penobscot Bay. Photo credit: USFWS|
The groundbreaking experiments and observations done by Charles Atkins, the first hatchery manager, laid the foundation for modern salmon hatchery science and greatly expanded scientific knowledge about the complex life cycle of Atlantic salmon.
As Atlantic salmon populations continued to decline in the face of rapid industrial development and dam construction along nearly every waterway feeding into the Gulf of Maine, the hatchery expanded its operations to support conservation on multiple rivers across the state. Today, Craig Brook is one of the most advanced fish hatcheries in the world, applying cutting edge research and technology to aquatic conservation in ways that would amaze Atkins and his contemporaries.