The State of Maine’s preliminary count of endangered Atlantic salmon returning to the Penobscot River was 1,426 fish this year.
The 2020 Penobscot River salmon run was the highest since 2011. In 2019, 1,076 Atlantic salmon returned to the river.
The Penobscot River hosts the largest remaining run of Atlantic salmon in the United States. Historically, 75,000 to 100,000 Atlantic salmon used to return to the river to spawn.
Every year, returning fish pass through the Milford lift, a fish elevator with a viewing window. The lift was installed in 2014 by hydroelectric dam owner Brookfield Renewable Energy Group. The lift allows anadromous fish species access to the river above the dam, which otherwise would not be passable.
In addition to its value as a fish passage aid on the river, The Milford fish lift gives U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists the chance to capture Atlantic salmon to use for broodstock. This year, biologists captured 218 Atlantic salmon for the Craig Brook Hatchery, where they will be used for hatchery production.
Several anadromous species are on the increase in the Penobscot River. More than 1.9 million river herring (alewife and blueback herring) and 11,000 American shad were estimated to have returned to the Penobscot this year.
source: NOAA Fisheries