Northeast Region Native American Liason Archived Features
Conserving the Nature of America

John Miller, a member of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, holds one of the fish donated. Credit: D.J. Monette/USFWS
John Miller, a member of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, holds one of the fish donated.
Credit: D.J. Monette/USFWS

Hatchery salmon donated to local tribes

When the White River National Fish Hatchery in Bethel, Vermont was severely damaged by Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011, 25 percent of the salmon brood stock were killed. The facility was inundated by the rising White River and many fish rearing tanks, buildings and mechanical equipment became buried by a foot of silt. Fortunately, some buildings remained operational and many of the fish survived. River water and river sediments, however, contain a variety of microorganisms that are part of the natural environment and generally harmless; but some are problematic. For example, the non-native alga known as "rock snot" which occurs in the White River doesn't pose human health concerns, but it blankets the bottom of rivers and streams, altering flow, destroying fish habitat and eliminating fish food items. As a national fish hatchery, we operate under prudent biosecurity policies aimed at protecting fish health and preventing the spread of aquatic viruses and invasive species into public waters around the country. To make sure our hatchery wouldn't spread the nasty "rock snot" into other rivers when we stocked fish, we needed to thoroughly clean our hatchery, empty all of our systems of water and remove the fish. Thus, the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Commission agreed to donate the remaining salmon to federally recognized Tribal governments in the northeast for use in traditional feasts, special events, ceremonies, and use in Tribal food banks. Over seven thousand fish, weighing over 16,000 pounds were donated to the following tribes: the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, Onondaga Nation, Cayuga Nation, Tonawanda Seneca Nation, Tuscarora Nation, Shinnecock Indian Nation and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

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Published on: Monday, November 28, 2011


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