Hearings slated on protecting salmon
BANGOR - Two public hearings are scheduled this week on a proposal to designate Atlantic salmon in the Penobscot, Kennebec, and Androscoggin rivers as an endangered species.
Atlantic salmon in eight smaller Maine rivers or streams already are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The proposal would expand the protected population of Gulf of Maine salmon to include those in the state's three largest rivers.
The National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service will accept public comments on the endangered species proposal, as well as a critical habitat proposal, Wednesday night at the Augusta Civic Center and Thursday night at Jeff's Catering in Brewer.
Federal biologists will hold informational sessions before both meetings from 6 to 7 p.m. Written comments can be submitted through Dec. 2 on expanding the endangered listing and through Dec. 5 on the Gulf of Maine critical habitat designation.
Eight years ago, the two agencies designated salmon in the Dennys, East Machias, Machias, Pleasant, Narraguagus, Ducktrap, and Sheepscot rivers and Cove Brook as endangered.
An endangered designation would prohibit salmon from being harassed, harmed, pursued, wounded, killed, trapped, captured, or collected without prior authorization or legal indemnification and could have an impact on a range of activities along the waterways, including hydroelectric dams, municipal waste-water treatment plants, and industries that withdraw from or discharge into the rivers.
Labeling Penobscot salmon as endangered also could end the catch-and-release fishing seasons that have been held on the Penobscot near Bangor in the fall or spring since 2006.