Central New England Fishery Resources Office
Northeast Region
 
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Strategic Plan for the Restoration of Anadromous Fish to the Merrimack River

Introduction:

This document represents a revised Anadromous Fish Restoration Strategic Plan (1990). The cooperating fisheries agencies have expanded the restoration program planning effort in several important ways. First, this Strategic Plan addresses the river herring (alewife and blueback herring), and the American shad, in addition to the Atlantic salmon. Second, this plan proposes a holistic approach to anadromous fish restoration. This "watershed approach" recognizes the dynamic physical, biological, political and economical connectedness of the Merrimack River basin from its headwaters in the White Mountains to its confluence with the Gulf of Maine.

Measuring success will require a candid portrayal of expectations and agreement on whether the program results are ecologically, scientifically, economically, and politically acceptable.

The Strategic Plan embodies the goal of restoring the Atlantic salmon to a self-sustaining level estimated at 1,900 multi-sea-winter females reaching the spawning grounds. Restoration of American shad and river herring is also directed at developing and maintaining self-sustaining populations to their historical habitat. Full restoration levels for American shad and river herring are unknown at this time because of insufficient life-history and habitat data. Cyclical fluctuations in marine survival, ineffective upstream and downstream fish passage, and a host of additional factors make it impossible to predict accurately what population levels can be achieved through this restoration program. The cooperating agencies have developed three interim objectives that are considered achievable within the next decade.

  1. An adult Atlantic salmon population that will exceed the sea run brood stock holding capacity of the Nashua National Fish Hatchery (300) and provide some level of reproduction in the wild.
  2. An annual average of 35,000 adult American shad passing the Essex fish-lift in Lawrence.
  3. An annual average of 300,000 adult river herring passing the Essex fish-lift in Lawrence.

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Last updated: February 7, 2011
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