PORTLAND, EAST MACHIAS, ME— The First Circuit Court of Appeals’ reinstatement of NELC’s Clean Water Act lawsuit against affiliates of Brookfield Asset Management, reported in our previous newsletter, continues a long line of NELC efforts to protect endangered Atlantic salmon.
In the current lawsuit, NELC recently completed a new round of briefing urging U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal to find that Brookfield has violated the Clean Water Act by allowing salmon and American shad to access the dangerous hydroelectric turbines at four dams on the Kennebec River in Maine. The Kennebec is a key migration route, and turbine-related mortality has contributed to the decline of these once thriving species.
Twelve years ago, NELC settled a lawsuit to protect endangered Atlantic salmon on seven smaller Downeast Maine rivers from unregulated salmon aquaculture facilities on the Maine Coast, which threatened wild fish with pollution, disease, sea lice infestations, and the risk of interbreeding with escaped farm-bred fish not genetically adapted to the wild.
The settlement included a $375,000 penalty for Clean Water Act violations and required defendant Heritage Salmon to provide seed funding for a new East Machias Aquatic Research Center (EMARC) to aid Maine’s wild salmon restoration efforts.
On Nov. 21, 2014, the Downeast Salmon Federation announced that it had just released more than 140,000 juvenile Atlantic salmon throughout the East Machias River watershed in an effort to restore the once great run of salmon in the East Machias.
These fish were reared at EMARC’s Peter Gray Hatchery, which raises the fish naturally, using unfiltered river water and specialized incubation boxes that mimic the gravel nests in which wild salmon lay their eggs, so they can better adapt to their new surroundings once in the river.
The project is in its third year, and the Downeast Salmon Federation hopes to continue it for many more years.