[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 171 (Wednesday, September 3, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 51415-51436]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-20412]


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DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR

United States Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Part 224

[Docket No. 0808191116-81126-01]
RIN 0648-XJ93


Endangered and Threatened Species; Proposed Endangered Status for 
the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic Salmon

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce; United States Fish and 
Wildlife Service (USFWS), Interior.

ACTION:  Proposed rule; 12-month petition finding; request for 
comments.

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SUMMARY:  We (NMFS and USFWS) have determined that naturally spawned 
and conservation hatchery populations of Atlantic salmon within the 
range of the Gulf of Maine (GOM) distinct population segment (DPS), 
including those that were already listed in November 2000, constitute a 
new GOM DPS and hence a ``species'' for listing as endangered or 
threatened consideration under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This 
also constitutes a 12-month finding on a petition to list Atlantic 
salmon in the Kennebec River as endangered. We will propose to 
designate critical habitat for the GOM DPS in a subsequent Federal 
Register notice.

DATES: Comments on this proposal must be received by December 2, 2008. 
Public hearing requests must be received by November 17, 2008.

[[Page 51416]]


ADDRESSES:  You may submit comments, identified by the RIN 0648-AW02, 
by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the FederaleRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov
     Mail: Assistant Regional Administrator, NMFS, Northeast 
Regional Office, Protected Resources Division, One Blackburn Drive, 
Gloucester, MA 01930
     Fax: To the attention of Jessica Pruden at (978) 281-9394.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally beposted to http://www.regulations.gov without 
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, 
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly 
accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or 
otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required 
fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic 
comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or 
Adobe PDF file formats only.
    The proposed rule and status review report are also available 
electronically at the NMFS website at http://www.nero.noaa.gov/prot_
res/altsalmon/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rory Saunders, NMFS, at (207)866-4049; 
Jessica Pruden, NMFS, at (978)281-9300 ext. 6532; Lori Nordstrom, 
USFWS, at (207)827-5938 ext. 13; or Marta Nammack, NMFS, at (301)713-
1401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Comments Solicited

    We solicit public comment on this proposed listing determination. 
We anticipate holding up to three public hearings on the proposed rule. 
Any public hearings will be announced in a separate Federal Register 
notice.
    We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will 
be as accurate and as effective as possible and informed by the best 
available scientific and commercial information. Therefore, we request 
comments or information from the public, other concerned governmental 
agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested 
party concerning this proposed rule. We particularly seek comments 
concerning:
    (1) Information on the effects of conservation hatchery 
supplementation in reducing the risk of extinction of the GOM DPS. As 
described in ``Status of the Species'' and ``Factor E'', the high 
numbers of fish stocked through the conservation hatchery program 
reduce the risk of extinction for the GOM DPS; however, the numbers of 
naturally-reared spawning adults in the GOM DPS are extremely low (less 
than 150). Numbers of naturally-reared spawning adults are an important 
measure of improved status or recovery. Because of the reduction in 
extinction risk provided by conservation hatchery supplementation, we 
seek additional information on the appropriate weight that should be 
given to the conservation hatchery program in evaluating the status of 
the GOM DPS;
    (2) Information concerning the viability of and/or threats to 
Atlantic salmon in the GOM DPS; and
    (3) Efforts being made to protect Atlantic salmon in the GOM DPS.

Background

    We issued a final rule listing the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon as 
endangered on November 17, 2000 (65 FR 69469). The GOM DPS was defined 
as all naturally reproducing wild populations and those river-specific 
hatchery populations of Atlantic salmon having historical, river-
specific characteristics found north of and including tributaries of 
the lower Kennebec River to, but not including, the mouth of the St. 
Croix River at the U.S.-Canada border. In the final rule listing the 
GOM DPS, we did not include fish that inhabit the mainstem and 
tributaries of the Penobscot River above the site of the former Bangor 
Dam, the upper Kennebec River, or the Androscoggin River within the GOM 
DPS (65 FR 69469; November 17, 2000).
    In late 2003, we assembled the 2005 Biological Review Team (BRT) 
comprised of biologists from the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission, the 
Penobscot Indian Nation (PIN), and both Services. The 2005 BRT was 
charged with reviewing and evaluating all relevant scientific 
information relating to the current DPS delineation (including a 
detailed genetic characterization of the Penobscot population and data 
relevant to the appropriateness of including the upper Kennebec and 
Androscoggin rivers as part of the DPS), determining the conservation 
status of the populations not included in GOM DPS listed in 2000, and 
assessing their relationship to that GOM DPS (the GOM DPS that is 
currently listed). The findings of the 2005 BRT, which are detailed in 
the 2006 Status Review for Anadromous Atlantic Salmon in the United 
States (Fay et al., 2006), addressed: the DPS delineation, including 
whether populations that were not included in the 2000 listing should 
be included in the GOM DPS; the extinction risks to the species; and 
the threats to the species. The 2006 Status Review (Fay et al., 2006) 
underwent peer review by experts in the fields of Atlantic salmon 
biology and genetics to ensure that it was based on the best available 
science. Each peer reviewer independently affirmed the major 
conclusions presented in Fay et al. (2006).
    We received a petition to list the ``Kennebec River population of 
anadromous Atlantic salmon'' as an endangered species under the ESA on 
May 11, 2005. NMFS published a notice in the Federal Register on 
November 14, 2006 (71 FR 66298), concluding that the petitioners 
(Timothy Watts, Douglas Watts, the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, and the 
Maine Toxics Action Coalition) presented substantial scientific 
information indicating that a listing may be warranted.
    This Federal Register notice announces our finding regarding the 
ESA listing status of the GOM DPS and 12-month finding on the petition 
to list Atlantic salmon in the Kennebec River as endangered.

Policies for Delineating Species Under the ESA

    Section 3 of the ESA defines ``species'' as including ``any 
subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population 
segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds 
when mature.'' The term ``distinct population segment'' is not 
recognized in the scientific literature. Therefore, the Services 
adopted a joint policy for recognizing DPSs under the ESA (DPS Policy; 
61 FR 4722) on February 7, 1996. The DPS policy requires the 
consideration of two elements when evaluating whether a vertebrate 
population segment qualifies as a DPS under the ESA: (1) the 
discreteness of the population segment in relation to the remainder of 
the species or subspecies to which it belongs; and (2) the significance 
of the population segment to the species or subspecies to which it 
belongs.
    A population segment of a vertebrate species may be considered 
discrete if it satisfies either one of the following conditions: (1) it 
is markedly separated from other populations of the same taxon (an 
organism or group of organisms) as a consequence of physical, 
physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors. Quantitative measures 
of genetic or morphological discontinuity may provide evidence of this 
separation; or (2) it is delimited by international governmental 
boundaries

[[Page 51417]]

within which differences in control of exploitation, management of 
habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the ESA (i.e., inadequate 
regulatory mechanisms).
    If a population segment is found to be discrete under one or more 
of the above conditions, its biological and ecological significance to 
the taxon to which it belongs is evaluated. This consideration may 
include, but is not limited to: (1) persistence of the discrete 
population segment in an ecological setting unusual or unique for the 
taxon; (2) evidence that the loss of the discrete population segment 
would result in a significant gap in the range of a taxon; (3) evidence 
that the discrete population segment represents the only surviving 
natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an 
introduced population outside its historic range; and (4) evidence that 
the discrete population segment differs markedly from other populations 
of the species in its genetic characteristics.

Listing Determinations Under the ESA

    The ESA defines an endangered species as one that is in danger of 
extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a 
threatened species as one that is likely to become endangered in the 
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range 
(sections 3(6) and 3(20), respectively). The statute requires us to 
determine whether any species is endangered or threatened because of 
any of the following five factors: (1) the present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (2) 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (5) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence (section 4(a)(1)(A-E)). We are to 
make this determination based solely on the best available scientific 
and commercial data available after conducting a review of the status 
of the species and taking into account any efforts being made by states 
or foreign governments to protect the species.

Atlantic Salmon Life History

    Anadromous Atlantic salmon are a wide ranging species with a 
complex life history. The historic range of Atlantic salmon occurred on 
both sides of the North Atlantic: from Connecticut to Ungava Bay in the 
western Atlantic and from Portugal to Russia's White Sea in the Eastern 
Atlantic, including the Baltic Sea.
    For Atlantic salmon in the United States, juveniles typically spend 
2 years rearing in freshwater. Freshwater ecosystems provide spawning 
habitat and thermal refuge for adult Atlantic salmon; overwintering and 
rearing areas for eggs, fry, and parr; and migration corridors for 
smolts and adults (Bardonnet and Bagliniere, 2000). Adult Atlantic 
salmon typically spawn in early November. The eggs hatch in late March 
or April. At this stage, they are referred to as alevin or sac fry. 
Alevins remain in the redd for about 6 more weeks and are nourished by 
their yolk sac until they emerge from the gravel in mid-May. At this 
time, they begin active feeding and are termed fry. Within days, the 
fry enter the parr stage, indicated by vertical bars (parr marks) on 
their sides that act as camouflage. Atlantic salmon parr are 
territorial; thus, most juvenile mortality is thought to be density 
dependent and mediated by habitat limitation (Gee et al., 1978; 
Legault, 2005). In particular, suitable overwintering habitat may limit 
the abundance of large parr prior to smoltification (Cunjak et al., 
1998). Smoltification (the physiological and behavioral changes 
required for the transition to salt water) usually occurs at age 2 for 
most Atlantic salmon in Maine. The smolt emigration period is rather 
short and lasts only 2 to 3 weeks for each individual. During this 
brief emigration window, smolts must contend with rapidly changing 
osmoregulatory requirements (McCormick et al., 1998) and predator 
assemblages (Mather, 1998). The freshwater stages in the life cycle of 
the Atlantic salmon have been well studied; however, much less 
information is available on Atlantic salmon at sea (Klemetsen et al., 
2003).
    Gulf of Maine Atlantic salmon migrate vast distances in the open 
ocean to reach feeding areas in the Davis Strait between Labrador and 
Greenland, a distance over 4,000 km from their natal rivers (Danie et 
al., 1984; Meister, 1984). During their time at sea, Atlantic salmon 
undergo a period of rapid growth until they reach maturity and return 
to their natal river. Most Atlantic salmon (about 90 percent) from the 
Gulf of Maine return after spending two winters at sea; usually less 
than 10 percent return after spending one winter at sea; roughly 1 
percent of returning salmon are either repeat spawners or have spent 
three winters at sea (three sea winter 3SW salmon) (Baum, 1997).
    In addition to anadromous Atlantic salmon, landlocked Atlantic 
salmon have been introduced to many lakes and rivers in Maine, though 
they are only native to four watersheds in the State: the Union, 
including Green Lake in Hancock County; the St. Croix, including West 
Grand Lake in Washington County; the Presumpscot, including Sebago Lake 
in Cumberland County; and the Penobscot, including Sebec Lake in 
Piscataquis County (Warner and Havey, 1985). There are certain lakes 
and rivers in Maine where landlocked salmon and anadromous salmon co-
exist. Recent genetic surveys have confirmed that little genetic 
exchange occurs between these two life history types (Spidle et al., 
2003, NMFS unpublished data).

Review of Species Delineation

    Fay et al. (2006) concluded that the DPS delineation as proposed by 
the previous BRT that resulted in the 2000 listing designation (65 FR 
69469; November 17, 2000) was largely appropriate, except in the case 
of large rivers that were excluded in previous listing determinations. 
As described below in the analyses of discreteness and significance of 
the population segment, Fay et al. (2006) concluded that the salmon 
currently inhabiting the larger rivers (Androscoggin, Kennebec, and 
Penobscot) are genetically similar to the rivers included in the GOM 
DPS as listed in 2000 (Spidle et al., 2003), have similar life history 
characteristics, and/or occur in the same zoogeographic region. 
Further, the salmon populations inhabiting the large and small rivers 
from the Androscoggin River northward to the Dennys River differ 
genetically and in important life history characteristics from Atlantic 
salmon in adjacent portions of Canada (Spidle et al., 2003; Fay et al., 
2006). Thus, Fay et al. (2006) concluded that this group of populations 
(population segment) met both the discreteness and significance 
criteria of the DPS Policy and, therefore, recommended that the new GOM 
DPS include all anadromous Atlantic salmon whose freshwater range 
occurs in the watersheds from the Androscoggin River northward along 
the Maine coast to the Dennys River, including all associated 
conservation hatchery populations used to supplement these natural 
populations; currently, such conservation hatchery populations are 
maintained at Green Lake National Fish Hatchery (GLNFH) and Craig Brook 
National Fish Hatcheries (CBNFH).
    The precise genetic boundary between Atlantic salmon in the United 
States and Canada is difficult to determine because there are no 
genetic data on the wild salmon that once occurred in the St. Croix 
watershed along the U.S.-Canada border. As listed in 2000, the

[[Page 51418]]

northern terminus of the GOM DPS was the U.S.-Canada border at the St. 
Croix River, but as described on page 54 of Fay et al. (2006), the best 
available science suggests that the St. Croix groups with other 
Canadian rivers. Therefore, we find that the northern terminus of the 
GOM DPS is the Dennys River watershed, rather than the St. Croix, 
because genetic analyses found that salmon in the Dennys River are more 
similar to populations in the United States than to Canadian salmon 
populations that are geographically proximate to the Dennys (Spidle et 
al., 2003).
    We determined the southern terminus of the GOM DPS to be the 
Androscoggin River based on zoogeography rather than genetics because 
there are extremely few Atlantic salmon in the rivers as one moves 
southward on which to base genetic analyses. The Androscoggin River 
lies within the Penobscot-Kennebec-Androscoggin Ecological Drainage 
Unit (Olivero, 2003) and the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province (Bailey, 
1995), which separates it from more southern rivers that were 
historically occupied by Atlantic salmon.
    With respect to the ``discreteness'' of this population segment, 
Fay et al. (2006) considered ecological, behavioral, and genetic 
factors under the first discreteness criterion of the DPS Policy to 
examine the degree to which it is separate from other Atlantic salmon 
populations. Gulf of Maine salmon are behaviorally and physiologically 
discrete from other members of the taxon because they return to their 
natal Gulf of Maine rivers to spawn, which leads to the separation in 
stocks that has been observed between the Gulf of Maine and other 
segments of the taxon. This phenomenon is known as homing and is 
characteristic of all other anadromous salmonids (Klemetsen et al., 
2003; Utter et al., 2004). Baum and Spencer (1990) found that roughly 
98 percent of all tagged salmon returned to their natal rivers to 
spawn.
    Ecologically, Gulf of Maine salmon are discrete from other members 
of the taxon. The core of the riverine habitat of this population 
segment lies within the Penobscot-Kennebec-Androscoggin Ecological 
Drainage Unit (Olivero, 2003) and the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province 
(Bailey, 1995). In particular, Gulf of Maine salmon life history 
strategies are dominated by age 2 smolts and 2SW adults whereas 
populations to the north of this population segment are generally 
dominated by age 3, or older, smolts and 1SW adults (i.e., grilse). 
Smolt age reflects growth rate (Klemetsen et al., 2003), with faster 
growing parr emigrating as smolts earlier than slower growing ones 
(Metcalfe et al., 1990). Smolt age is largely influenced by temperature 
(Symons, 1979; Forseth et al., 2001) and can therefore be used to 
compare and contrast growing conditions across rivers (Metcalfe and 
Thorpe, 1990). For Gulf of Maine populations, smolt ages are quite 
similar across rivers with naturally-reared (result of either wild 
spawning or fry stocking) returning adults predominantly emigrating at 
river age 2 (88 to 100 percent) with the remainder emigrating at river 
age 3 (Fay et al., 2006).
    The strongest evidence that Gulf of Maine salmon are discrete from 
other members of the taxon is genetic. Fay et al. (2006) described 
genetic structure of this population segment and other stocks in detail 
in section 6.3.1.3. In summary, three primary genetic groups of North 
American populations (Spidle et al., 2003; Spidle et al., 2004; 
Verspoor et al., 2005) are evident. These include the anadromous Gulf 
of Maine populations (including salmon in the Kennebec and Penobscot 
Rivers) (Spidle et al., 2003), non-anadromous Maine populations (Spidle 
et al., 2003), and Canadian populations (Verspoor et al., 2005).
    Because of these behavioral, physiological, ecological and genetic 
factors, we conclude that the Gulf of Maine anadromous population is 
discrete from other Atlantic salmon populations under the provisions of 
the DPS Policy.
    With respect to the ``significance'' of this population segment, 
Fay et al. (2006) found three of the four ``significance'' factors 
described in the DPS policy applicable to the GOM DPS.
    Under the first ``significance'' factor, Fay et al. (2006) 
concluded that this population segment has persisted in an ecological 
setting unusual or unique to the taxon for several reasons. First, Gulf 
of Maine salmon live in and migrate through a unique marine 
environment. The marine migration corridor for Gulf of Maine salmon 
begins in the Gulf of Maine that is known for unique circulation 
patterns, thermal regimes, and predator assemblages (Townsend et al., 
2006). Gulf of Maine salmon undertake extremely long marine migrations 
to feeding grounds off the west coast of Greenland because the riverine 
habitat they occupy is at the southern extreme of the current North 
American range. While such vast marine migrations are more common for 
stocks on the northeast side of the Atlantic, the combination of the 
long migration distances and the unique setting of the Gulf of Maine, 
described above, make the oceanic life history of the GOM DPS quite 
unique from those of other stocks. In addition, the core of the 
riverine habitat of this population segment lies within the Penobscot-
Kennebec-Androscoggin Ecological Drainage Unit (Olivero, 2003) and the 
Laurentian Mixed Forest Province (Bailey, 1995). The importance of this 
setting is evidenced by the tremendous production potential of its 
juvenile nursery habitat that allows production of proportionately 
younger smolts than Canadian rivers to the north (Myers, 1986; Baum, 
1997; Hutchings and Jones, 1998). Thus, the combination of the unique 
rearing conditions in the freshwater portion of its range combined with 
the unique marine migration corridor led Fay et al. (2006) to conclude 
that this population segment has persisted in an ecological setting 
unusual or unique to the taxon.
    Under the second ``significance'' factor, Fay et al. (2006) 
concluded that the loss of this population segment would result in a 
significant gap or constriction in the range of the taxon. The 
extirpation of this population segment would represent a significant 
range reduction for the entire taxon Salmo salar because this 
population segment represents the southernmost native Atlantic salmon 
population in the western Atlantic; the temperature regimes in these 
southern rivers made possible the tremendous growth and production 
potential which resulted in the historically very large populations in 
these areas. Historic attempts to enhance salmon populations (in Gulf 
of Maine rivers) using Canadian-origin fish failed. This further 
illustrates the importance of conserving native populations and the 
difficulties of restoration if they are lost.
    Under the third ``significance'' factor, Fay et al. (2006) 
concluded that this population segment differs markedly from other 
populations of the species in its genetic characteristics. While 
genetic differences were used to examine the ``discreteness'' of this 
population segment, Fay et al. (2006) suggested that the 
``significance'' of these observed genetic differences is that they 
provide evidence of local adaptation. That is, low returns of exogenous 
smolts (i.e., Canadian-origin smolts stocked in Maine) and lower 
survival of smolts from these Maine rivers stocked outside their native 
geographic range (e.g., into the Merrimack River) indicate that this 
population segment is adapted to its native environment.
    These three factors led Fay et al. (2006) to conclude that this 
population segment is significant to the Atlantic

[[Page 51419]]

salmon species, and therefore, qualifies as a DPS (the new GOM DPS) 
under the provisions of the DPS Policy.
    Fay et al. (2006) explicitly considered whether to include hatchery 
populations in the GOM DPS and concluded that all conservation hatchery 
populations (currently maintained at GLNFH and CBNFH) should be 
included in the GOM DPS. This determination was based on the fact that 
there is a low level of divergence between conservation hatchery 
populations and the rest of the GOM DPS because: (1) the river-specific 
hatchery programs collect wild parr or sea-run adults annually (when 
possible) for inclusion into the broodstock programs; (2) broodstocks 
are used to stock fry and other life stages into the river of origin, 
and, in some instances, hatchery-origin individuals represent the 
primary origin of Atlantic salmon due to low adult returns; (3) there 
is no evidence of introgression from Canadian-origin populations; and 
(4) there is minimal introgression from aquaculture fish because of a 
rigorous genetic screening program. Because the level of divergence is 
minimal, Fay et al. (2006) suggested that hatchery populations should 
be considered part of the GOM DPS. However, Fay et al. (2006) also 
noted the dangers of reliance on hatcheries. In short, these risks 
include artificial selection, inbreeding depression, and outbreeding 
depression. The reader is directed to ``Artificial Propagation'' in 
``Factor E'' of this Federal Register document and Section 8.5.1 of the 
2006 Status Review report for an in depth discussion of these risks.
    We concur with the findings and application of the DPS policy 
described in Fay et al. (2006) and therefore conclude that the GOM DPS 
warrants delineation as a DPS (i.e., it is discrete and significant). 
Specifically, we conclude that the GOM DPS is comprised of all 
anadromous Atlantic salmon whose freshwater range occurs in the 
watersheds from the Androscoggin northward along the Maine coast to the 
Dennys, including all associated conservation hatchery populations used 
to supplement these natural populations; currently, such populations 
are maintained at GLNFH and CBNFH. We consider the hatchery-dependent 
populations that are maintained at CBNFH and GLNFH essential for 
recovery of the GOM DPS because the hatchery populations contain a high 
proportion of the genetic diversity remaining in the GOM DPS (Bartron 
et al., 2006). Excluded are those salmon raised in commercial 
hatcheries for aquaculture and landlocked salmon because they are 
genetically distinguishable from the GOM DPS. The marine range of the 
GOM DPS extends from the Gulf of Maine to feeding grounds off 
Greenland. The most substantial difference between the GOM DPS as 
listed in 2000 and the GOM DPS as proposed in this rule is the 
inclusion of the entire Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot basins.
    Several rivers outside the range of the GOM DPS in Long Island 
Sound and Central New England contain Atlantic salmon (Fay et al., 
2006). The native Atlantic salmon of these areas south of the GOM DPS 
were extirpated in the 1800s (Fay et al., 2006). However, efforts to 
restore Atlantic salmon to these areas (e.g., Connecticut, Merrimack, 
and Saco Rivers) involve stocking Atlantic salmon that were originally 
derived from the GOM DPS. Atlantic salmon whose freshwater range occurs 
outside the GOM DPS do not interbreed with salmon within the GOM DPS 
and are not considered a part of the GOM DPS and are not being 
considered for protection under the ESA.
Status of the GOM DPS
    Since the listing of the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon in 2000, the 
numbers of returning adults (both naturally-reared and conservation 
hatchery stocked) have remained low (Table 1). Of greatest concern is 
the extremely low number of naturally-reared adults in the GOM DPS. In 
2006 (the most recent year for which complete data is available at the 
time of writing), approximately 1,144 adult salmon returned to rivers 
within the freshwater range of the GOM DPS. Of these, only 117 were 
naturally-reared; 91 percent (1,044) of the adult salmon returned to 
the Penobscot, 95 percent (996) of which were stocked through 
conservation hatchery programs as smolt (Table 2). The remainder was 
predominantly naturally-reared salmon that returned to smaller rivers 
such as the Narraguagus, Pleasant, and Sheepscot Rivers (Table 2). 
Conservation spawning escapement (CSE) goals are widely used (e.g., 
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), 2005) to 
describe the status of individual Atlantic salmon populations. When CSE 
goals are met, Atlantic salmon populations are generally self-
sustaining. When CSE goals are not met (i.e., less than 100 percent), 
populations are not reaching full potential which can be indicative of 
a population decline. For all rivers in Maine, current Atlantic salmon 
populations are well below CSE levels required to sustain themselves 
(Fay et al., 2006), which is further indication of their poor 
population status.

 Table 1. Adult returns to rivers within the range of the GOM DPS as listed in 2000, the Penobscot River, the Kennebec River, and the Androscoggin River
 from 2001 to 2006. These data are summarized from Table 3.2.1.2 and Table 16 in the United States Atlantic Salmon Assessment Committee Report (USASAC,
                                                                         2007).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                               Rivers within the range
             Year              of the DPS as listed in    Penobscot River Trap     Kennebec River Trap      Androscoggin River      Total Known Returns
                                    2000 estimate                Count                  Count \a\               Trap Count
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2001                           103                      785                      --                       5                       893
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2002                           37                       780                      --                       2                       819
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2003                           76                       1112                     --                       3                       1191
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2004                           82                       1323                     --                       11                      1416
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2005                           71                       985                      --                       10                      1066
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2006                           79                       1044                     15                       6                       1144
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a\ Counts not conducted on the Kennebec until 2006


[[Page 51420]]


  Table 2. Adult returns to rivers within the freshwater range of the GOM DPS by origin in 2006. These data are
    summarized from Table 1 in the United States Atlantic Salmon Assessment Committee Report (USASAC, 2007).
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               River                  Conservation Hatchery       Naturally-reared                Total
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Androscoggin                        6                         0                         6
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kennebec                            10                        5                         15
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dennys                              4                         2                         6
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Narraguagus                         0                         15                        15
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other GOM DPS                       11                        47                        58
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Penobscot                           996                       48                        1044
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total                               1027                      117                       1144
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Currently, the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon is largely dependent on 
conservation hatchery supplementation for its persistence. The ultimate 
goal of the conservation hatchery program is to lead to the recovery of 
the GOM DPS. We use two recent analyses to inform us about the role of 
conservation hatcheries in reducing the risk of extinction of the GOM 
DPS given the low numbers of naturally-reared salmon in the GOM DPS. We 
do not use either of these analyses to define a point at which we 
predict the GOM DPS may go extinct or to analyze threats to the GOM DPS 
because of the assumptions made by each that make them inappropriate to 
use for such purposes. The two analyses are: (1) Fay et al. (2006) in 
which recent adult return data were used in a population viability 
analysis (PVA) to assess the extinction probabilities for the GOM DPS 
(as defined in this proposed rule); (2) Legault (2004 and 2005) in 
which a novel population modeling tool (SalmonPVA) was used to, in 
part, begin examining quantitative recovery criteria for the GOM DPS as 
listed in 2000.
    The PVA described in section 7.3 of Fay et al. (2006) generally 
shows that the GOM DPS is likely to continue to decline in terms of 
adult abundance. In short, these PVA projections show that the GOM DPS 
is trending towards extinction. The Fay et al. (2006) PVA does, 
however, show the positive population effects of conservation 
hatcheries (i.e., reducing the risk of extinction). The risk of 
extinction increases over time, and varies depending on how extinction 
is defined (i.e., a ``Quasi-Extinction Threshold'' (QET) of one 
individual vs. 50 or 100 individuals). Using an adult return dataset 
from a period of low marine survival (1991 to 2004), the likelihood of 
extinction (QET = 1) for the GOM DPS is 0.8 percent over a 20-year time 
frame. Even if the timeframe is extended to 100 years, for a QET of one 
individual the estimated extinction risk remains below 50 percent (37.2 
percent). With a QET of 50 individuals, however, the extinction risk 
increases to 71.2 percent in 100 years. In the analyses, the 
probability of extinction increases when the QET is larger, and with 
longer timeframes. Without the smolt stocking program, the risks of 
extinction would be much greater (Fay et al., 2006).
    Legault's PVA (Legault, 2005) demonstrates that current levels of 
hatchery supplementation substantially reduce extinction risk to the 
GOM DPS as listed in 2000. For example, in simulations where marine 
survival estimates were set at the mean of the last 30 years, Legault 
(2005) estimated that the extinction risk (in the next 100 years) for 
the GOM DPS as listed in 2000 was near 100 percent if hatchery 
supplementation ceased in 2015, whereas extinction risks were only 
approximately 1 percent in simulations where hatchery supplementation 
continued through the year 2055. These simulations only included those 
populations specifically named in the GOM DPS as listed in 2000; given 
that smaller initial population sizes exacerbate the extinction process 
(Holmes, 2001), adding the Penobscot population into the GOM DPS, as is 
proposed here, would further reduce the extinction risks compared to 
those presented by Legault (2005).
    Although PVAs are informative in assessing extinction risks, there 
are several assumptions that must be carefully scrutinized. In 
particular, the PVA presented by Fay et al. (2006) can be considered 
valid only if the following assumptions are accepted: (1) hatchery 
supplementation continues into the future at current levels with 
similar survival rates, and (2) similar threats to the species remain 
operative into the future (i.e., environmental conditions remain 
unchanged). Therefore, the PVA projections of extinction risk for the 
GOM DPS are not necessarily predictive of future conditions, especially 
over longer time frames, and caution must be used in interpreting 
results of this or any PVA when making a determination regarding a 
species' conservation status.
    Importantly, all of the extinction risk scenarios assessed by Fay 
et al. (2006) assumed that hatchery supplementation would continue at 
its present level. The hatchery program, however, and specifically the 
smolt stocking program that currently sustains the GOM DPS, requires at 
least 150 returning adults in the GOM DPS. If there were less than 150 
adults, smolt production goals could not be met and the hatchery 
program could not continue at its current level; the likelihood of this 
occurring has not been determined. The ramifications of an adult 
population falling below 150 are that severe genetic and demographic 
problems would arise in the population as the result of the extremely 
low levels of abundance (Fay et al., 2006). The effect hatchery 
supplementation has on reducing the risk of extinction of the GOM DPS 
would also be lost without the smolt stocking program at its current 
levels, and a steep and rapid population decline to extinction would be 
expected if hatchery broodstock goals could not be met (i.e., less than 
150 adults). In addition, because smolt stocking has a greater positive 
effect on population demographics than fry stocking (SEI, 2007), the 
cessation of the smolt stocking that currently sustains the GOM DPS 
likely would exacerbate extinctions risks considerably more than if fry 
stocking were discontinued (as considered by Legault (2005)).
    In addition, there are negative consequences to hatchery 
supplementation that are not

[[Page 51421]]

incorporated into the PVA. Despite managers' best efforts, long-term 
artificial propagation and maintenance of a population in captivity may 
result in negative effects resulting from small population size, 
inbreeding, and domestication selection that may reduce the long-term 
viability of the population (see Artificial Propagation in Factor E of 
this Federal Register Notice). We recognize that such effects may be 
difficult to detect, yet they may be irreversible.
    Additional risks of relying on hatchery supplementation that are 
not explicitly considered in either PVA are described below. The entire 
hatchery stock for the GOM DPS is maintained in two hatcheries, GLNFH 
and CBNFH. Although there are strict biosecurity protocols and 
broodstock management plans in place, there is the potential for a 
catastrophe to occur at either or both facilities (e.g., disease, loss 
of funding, loss of electricity), which could result in the loss of 
many individuals or potentially entire broodstock sources. In the event 
of such a catastrophe, there would still be two to three age classes at 
sea; however, it would be extremely difficult to rebuild the broodstock 
with the remaining small population and limited gene pool. Given the 
current dependence of the GOM DPS on hatchery supplementation, 
catastrophic loss of either or both hatchery stocks would cause a steep 
and rapid decline to extinction, potentially more severe than if 
broodstock goals cannot be met (as described above). Neither of the 
PVAs (Legault, 2005; nor Fay et al., 2006) explicitly considered the 
risk of catastrophic loss of both conservation hatchery programs.
    To summarize the information we have obtained from the PVAs 
(Legault, 2005; Fay et al., 2006), the GOM DPS is trending toward 
extinction though conservation hatchery supplementation buffers the 
extinction risk. If the number of returning adults falls below 150, the 
current levels of conservation hatchery supplementation (smolt 
stocking, in particular) would be impossible to maintain, resulting in 
a rapid and steep decline to extinction. This scenario was not modeled 
in either PVA; therefore, we are not able to predict timeframes to how 
soon extinction might occur without hatchery supplementation.
    To summarize the status of the GOM DPS, the total number of 
naturally-reared, spawning adult salmon continues to be extremely low 
(117 in 2006 data summarized from USASAC, 2007). In 2006 there were 
1,027 smolt-stocked adults in the GOM DPS (data summarized from USASAC 
(2007)). Hatchery supplementation reduces the risk of extinction by 
increasing the number of juveniles in the GOM DPS, thereby maintaining 
low levels of spawning adults returning to the system. However, these 
programs have not yet been successful at recovering or maintaining 
wild, self-sustaining populations of Atlantic salmon as evidenced by 
the low numbers of naturally-reared adults in the GOM DPS. The majority 
of salmon within the freshwater range of the GOM DPS return to a single 
river system, the Penobscot; of these, approximately 90 percent were 
stocked as smolts.

Summary of Factors Affecting the GOM DPS

     Section 4 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1533) and implementing regulations 
at 50 CFR part 424 set forth procedures for adding species to the 
Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Species. Under section 4(a) 
of the Act, we must determine if a species is threatened or endangered 
because of any of the following five factors: (A) The present or 
threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or 
range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors 
affecting its continued existence.
    We have described the effects of various factors leading to the 
decline of Atlantic salmon in previous listing determinations (60 FR 
50530, September 29, 1995; 64 FR 62627, November 17, 1999; 65 FR 69459, 
November 17, 2000) and supporting documents (NMFS and USFWS, 1999; NMFS 
and USFWS, 2005). The reader is directed to section 8 of Fay et al., 
(2006) for a more detailed discussion of the factors affecting the GOM 
DPS. In making this finding, information regarding the status of the 
GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon is considered in relation to the five 
factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA.

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of its Habitat or Range

    Changes to the GOM DPS's natural environment are ubiquitous. Both 
contemporary and historic land and water use practices such as damming 
of rivers, forestry, agriculture, urbanization, and water withdrawal 
have substantially altered Atlantic salmon habitat by: (1) eliminating 
and degrading spawning and rearing habitat, (2) reducing habitat 
complexity and connectivity, (3) degrading water quality, and (4) 
altering water temperatures. These impacts and their effects on salmon 
are described in detail by Fay et al. (2006). Here we summarize the 
stressors that we believe are having the greatest impact on the GOM 
DPS.
    Dams are among the leading causes of both historic declines and 
contemporary low abundance of the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon. Dams 
directly limit access to otherwise suitable habitat. Prior to the 
construction of mainstem dams in the early 1800s, the upstream 
migrations of salmon extended well into headwaters of large and small 
rivers alike, unless a naturally impassable waterfall existed. For 
example, Atlantic salmon were found throughout the West Branch of the 
Penobscot River (roughly 350 km inland) and as far as Grand Falls 
(roughly 235 km inland) on the Dead River in the Kennebec Drainage 
(Foster and Atkins, 1867; Atkins, 1870). Today, however, upstream 
passage for salmon on the West Branch of the Penobscot is nonexistent 
and limited to trapping and trucking salmon above the first mainstem 
dam on the Kennebec. Dams also change hydraulic characteristics of 
rivers. These changes, combined with reduced, non-existent, or poor 
fish passage, influence fish community structure. Specifically, dams 
create slow-moving impoundments in formerly free-flowing reaches. Not 
only are these altered habitats less suitable for spawning and rearing 
of Atlantic salmon, they may also favor nonnative competitors such as 
smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) over native species such as 
brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and American shad (Alosa 
sapidissima). Fish passage inefficiency also leads to direct mortality 
of Atlantic salmon. Upstream passage effectiveness for anadromous fish 
species never reaches 100 percent, and substantial mortality and 
migration delays occur during downstream passage events through screen 
impingement and turbine entrainment. The cumulative losses of smolts, 
in particular, incrementally diminish the productive capacity of 
freshwater rearing habitat above hydroelectric dams. Comprehensive 
discussions of the impacts of dams are presented in sections 8.1, 8.3, 
and 8.5.4 of Fay et al. (2006) and NRC (2004).
    As supported by the information in the Status Review, we find that 
the threat of dams and their inter-related effects on freshwater salmon 
habitat is one of the three (in addition to the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms for dams (see discussion in Factor D below) and 
the low marine survival, (see discussion in Factor E below) most 
influential stressors

[[Page 51422]]

negatively affecting the persistence of the GOM DPS.
    Some forest, agricultural, and other land use practices have 
reduced habitat complexity within the range of the GOM DPS of Atlantic 
salmon. Large woody debris (LWD) and large boulders are currently 
lacking from many rivers because of historic practices. When present, 
LWD and large boulders create and maintain a diverse variety of habitat 
types. Large trees were harvested from riparian areas; this reduced the 
supply of LWD to channels. In addition, any LWD and large boulders that 
were in river channels were often removed in order to facilitate log 
drives. Historical forestry and agricultural practices were likely the 
cause of currently altered channel characteristics, such as width-to-
depth ratios (i.e., channels are wider and shallower today than they 
were historically). Channels with large width-to-depth ratios tend to 
experience more rapid water temperature fluctuations, which is 
stressful for salmon, particularly in the summer when temperatures are 
warmer. Further discussions of the impacts of reduced habitat 
complexity are presented in section 8.1.2 of Fay et al. (2006). Within 
Factor A, we find that the threat to the persistence of the GOM DPS 
from reduced habitat complexity is secondary to the significant threat 
posed by dams.
    Habitat connectivity has been reduced because of dams and poorly 
designed road crossings. Further discussions of the impacts of reduced 
habitat connectivity are presented in section 8.1.2 of Fay et al. 
(2006). As a highly migratory species, Atlantic salmon require a 
diverse array of well-connected habitat types in order to complete 
their life history. Impediments to movement between habitat types can 
limit access to potential habitat and, therefore, directly reduce 
survival in freshwater. In some instances, barriers to migration may 
also impede recovery of other diadromous fishes as well. For example, 
alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus) require free access to lakes to 
complete their life history. To the extent that salmon require other 
native diadromous fishes to complete their life history (see ``Depleted 
Diadromous Communities'' in ``Factor E'' of this Federal Register 
notice), limited connectivity of freshwater habitat types may limit the 
abundance of salmon through diminished nutrient cycling, and a 
reduction in the availability of co-evolved diadromous fish species 
that provide an alternative prey source and serve as prey to GOM DPS 
Atlantic salmon. Restoration efforts in the Machias, East Machias and 
Narraguagus Rivers have improved passage at road crossings by replacing 
poorly-sized and poorly-positioned culverts. However, many barriers of 
this type remain throughout the GOM DPS. Within Factor A, we find that 
the threat to the persistence of the GOM DPS from reduced habitat 
connectivity (resulting from causes other than dams) is secondary to 
the significant threat posed by dams.
    A number of other human-caused perturbations continue to negatively 
modify Atlantic salmon habitat within the range of the GOM DPS. Water 
withdrawals that reduce water quality (e.g., temperature and dissolved 
oxygen) and in-stream flows to levels that cannot sustain Atlantic 
salmon populations have been documented in rivers within the range of 
the GOM DPS. Elevated sedimentation from forestry, agriculture, 
urbanization, and roads can reduce survival at several life stages, 
most importantly egg survival, as well as alter in-stream habitat and 
habitat use patterns by filling pools, and adversely affect aquatic 
invertebrate populations that are an important food source for salmon. 
Acid rain reduces pH in surface waters with low buffering capacity, and 
reduced pH impairs osmoregulatory abilities and seawater tolerance of 
Atlantic salmon smolts. A variety of pesticides, herbicides, trace 
elements, and other contaminants are found at varying levels throughout 
the range of the GOM DPS. These contaminants have been demonstrated to 
cause lethal and sub-lethal impacts, such as impaired olfactory 
capabilities, to salmon. Fay et al. (2006) provide a thorough 
discussion of these habitat alterations in sections 8.1.1 and 8.1.3. 
Within Factor A, we find that the threat to the persistence of the GOM 
DPS from poor water quality is secondary to the significant threat 
posed by dams.
    The GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon is negatively affected by ongoing 
changes in its freshwater habitat as a result of land and water use 
practices as considered above in Factor A. Within Factor A, we find 
that dams and their inter-related effects are significant threats to 
the persistence of the GOM DPS; secondary threats to the persistence of 
the GOM DPS are stressors that reduce habitat connectivity (other than 
dams), reduce habitat complexity, and negatively affect water quality. 
We conclude that threats from dams, the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanism for dams (described below in Factor D), and low 
marine survival (described below in Factor E), are the most influential 
stressors negatively affecting the persistence of the GOM DPS.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon has supported important tribal, 
recreational, and commercial fisheries. In the past, these fisheries 
have been conducted throughout nearly all of the GOM DPS's habitats, 
including in-river, estuarine, and off-shore (see section 8.2 of Fay et 
al. (2006) for additional information regarding Overutilization as it 
affects Atlantic salmon).
    Atlantic salmon are an integral part of the history of Native 
American tribes in Maine, particularly the PIN. The species represents 
both an important resource for food, and perhaps more importantly, a 
cultural symbol of the deeply engrained connection between the PIN and 
the Penobscot River. In accordance with the Maine Indian Land Claims 
Settlement Act, the PIN retains the right of its members to harvest 
Atlantic salmon for subsistence and sustenance purposes, and to self-
regulate that harvest. The PIN has harvested only two salmon under 
these provisions, and has voluntarily decided not to harvest any 
Atlantic salmon since 1988, because of the depleted status of the 
species.
    Recreational fisheries for Atlantic salmon in Maine date back to 
the early to mid-1800s. Since 1880, over 25,000 Atlantic salmon have 
been landed in Maine rivers, roughly 14,000 in the Penobscot River 
alone (Baum, 1997). Historically, Atlantic salmon sport anglers 
practiced very little catch and release. Beginning in the 1980s as runs 
decreased, the Maine Atlantic Sea Run Salmon Commission imposed 
increasingly restrictive regulations on the recreational harvesting of 
Atlantic salmon in Maine. The allowable annual harvest per angler for 
these rivers was reduced from 10 salmon in the 1980s to 1 grilse in 
1994. Angling was closed on the Pleasant River from 1986 to 1989. In 
1990, a one year catch and release fishery was allowed on the Pleasant 
River. In 1995, regulations were promulgated for catch and release 
fishing for sea-run Atlantic salmon throughout the other Maine salmon 
rivers, closing the last remaining recreational harvest opportunities 
for sea run Atlantic salmon in the United States. In 2000, all directed 
recreational fisheries for sea run Atlantic salmon in Maine were closed 
until 2006 when a short, highly regulated, experimental catch and 
release fishery was opened on the Penobscot River below Veazie Dam. The 
30-day angling season began on September 15, 2006, and resulted in one 
Atlantic salmon being caught and released on September 20, 2006. This

[[Page 51423]]

fishery was opened again on September 15, 2007. In 2008, the Maine 
Atlantic Salmon Commission Board authorized a 30-day catch and release 
fishery for the spring of 2008. This fishery poses a risk to returning 
sea-run Atlantic salmon because it occurs at a time of year before 
broodstock have been collected, which is essential to maintain current 
levels of conservation hatchery supplementation, and would further risk 
the likelihood of achieving the scientifically sound and mutually-
agreed goals set forth in the Broodstock Management Plan (P. Kurkul, 
NOAA, in litt. February 1, 2008).
    Poaching and incidental capture remain concerns to the status of 
Atlantic salmon in Maine. Incidental capture of parr and smolts, 
primarily by trout anglers, and of adult salmon, primarily by striped 
bass anglers, has been documented. Targeted poaching for adult salmon 
occurs at low levels as well. Low returns of adult salmon to Maine 
rivers highlight the importance of continuing to reduce any source of 
mortality, particularly at later life stages.
    Commercial fishing for Maine Atlantic salmon historically occurred 
in rivers, estuaries, and on the high seas. While most directed 
commercial fisheries for Atlantic salmon have ceased, the impacts from 
past fisheries are important in explaining the present low abundance of 
the GOM DPS. Also, the continuation of offshore fisheries for Atlantic 
salmon, albeit at reduced levels, influences the current status of the 
GOM DPS.
    Nearshore fisheries for Atlantic salmon in Maine were quite common 
in the late 1800s. In 1888, roughly 90 metric tons (mt) of salmon were 
harvested in the Penobscot River alone. As stocks continued to decline 
through the early 1900s, the Maine Atlantic Sea Run Salmon Commission 
closed the nearshore commercial fishery for Atlantic salmon after the 
1947 season when only 40 fish (0.2 mt) were caught. Directed fisheries 
for Atlantic salmon in U.S. territorial waters were further limited by 
regulations implementing the Atlantic salmon fishery management plan 
(FMP) in 1987 (NEFMC, 1987). These regulations prohibit possession of 
Atlantic salmon in the U.S. exclusive economic zone. While nearshore 
fisheries for Atlantic salmon have ceased, the impacts from past 
fisheries are important in explaining the present low abundance of the 
GOM DPS.
     Directed fishing for other species has the potential to intercept 
salmon as by-catch. Beland (1984) reported that fewer than 100 salmon 
per year were caught incidental to other commercial fisheries in the 
coastal waters of Maine. Recent investigations also suggest that by-
catch of Atlantic salmon in herring fisheries is not a significant 
mortality source for U.S. stocks of salmon (ICES, 2004).
    Offshore, directed fisheries for Atlantic salmon continue to affect 
the GOM DPS, though these fisheries have been substantially reduced in 
recent years. The combined harvest of 1SW Atlantic salmon of U.S. 
origin in the fisheries off West Greenland and Canada averaged 5,060 
fish, and returns to U.S. rivers averaged 2,884 fish from 1968 to 1989 
(ICES, 1993); we estimate that roughly 87 percent of all U.S. adult 
returns during the time period 1968 to 1989 originated from the GOM 
DPS, and thus roughly 2,519 of the 2,884 of the above returns were to 
the GOM DPS. ICES (1993) estimated that adult returns to U.S.rivers 
could have potentially been increased by 2.5 times in the absence of 
West Greenland and Labrador fisheries during that time period. The 
United States joined with other North Atlantic nations in 1982 to form 
the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) for the 
purpose of managing salmon through a cooperative program of 
conservation, restoration, and enhancement of North Atlantic stocks. 
NASCO achieves its goals by managing the exploitation by member nations 
of Atlantic salmon that originated within the territory of other member 
nations. The United States' interest in NASCO stemmed from its desire 
to ensure that interception fisheries of U.S. origin fish did not 
compromise the long-term commitment by the states and Federal 
government to rehabilitate and restore New England Atlantic salmon 
stocks. Since the establishment of NASCO in 1982, commercial quotas for 
the West Greenland fishery have steadily declined, as has the abundance 
of most stocks that make up this mixed stock fishery (including the GOM 
DPS). Quotas have been restricted to an internal use fishery (i.e., no 
fish were sold internationally) in the following years: 1998-2000; 
2003-2007; and provisionally for 2008.
    In addition, a small commercial fishery occurs off St. Pierre et 
Miquelon, a French territory south of Newfoundland. Historically, the 
fishery was very limited (2 to 3 mt per year). There is great interest 
by the United States and Canada in sampling this catch to gain more 
information on stock composition. In recent years, there has been a 
reported small increase in the number of fishermen participating in 
this fishery. A small sampling program was initiated in 2003 to obtain 
biological data and samples from the catch. Genetic analysis on 134 
samples collected in 2004 indicated that all samples originated from 
North America, and approximately 1.9 percent were of U.S. origin. The 
90-percent confidence interval around this estimate was 0-77 U.S.-
origin salmon (ICES, 2006), and since roughly 87 percent of all U.S. 
returns originated from the GOM DPS in 2004 (USASAC, 2005), we estimate 
that up to 67 fish harvested in this fishery originated from the GOM 
DPS. Efforts to continue and increase the scope of this sampling 
program are ongoing through NASCO. These data are essential to 
understanding the impact of this fishery on the GOM DPS.
    A multi-year conservation agreement was established in 2002 between 
the North Atlantic Salmon Fund and the Organization of Hunters and 
Fishermen in Greenland, effectively buying out the commercial fishery 
for Atlantic salmon for a 5-year period. The internal-use fishery is 
not included in the agreement. From 2002 to 2005, the internal-use 
fishery harvested between 19 and 25 mt (reported and unreported catch) 
annually. Genetic analysis performed on samples obtained from the 2002 
to 2004 fisheries estimated the North American contribution at 64-73 
percent, with the United States contributing between 0.1 and 0.8 
percent of the total. The 90 percent confidence interval for the U.S. 
estimates are 0 to 141 salmon in 2002, 5 to 132 salmon in 2003, and 0 
to 64 salmon in 2004 (ICES, 2006). In June 2007, the agreement was 
extended and revised to cover the 2007 fishing season. The agreement 
may continue to be extended on an annual basis through 2013.
    Overutilization for recreational and commercial purposes was a 
factor that contributed to the historic declines of the GOM DPS. The 
current low numbers of adult salmon in the GOM DPS magnify the negative 
population effects caused by any take that occurs through commercial, 
recreational, scientific or educational purposes; however, we find the 
threats from overutilization (Factor B) to the persistence of the GOM 
DPS are secondary to threats identified above in Factors A (dams), and 
below in D (inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms for dams) and 
E (low marine survival).

 C. Disease or Predation

    Fish diseases have always represented a source of mortality to 
Atlantic salmon in the wild (for a more thorough discussion see section 
8.3.2 of Fay et al. (2006)). Atlantic salmon are susceptible to 
numerous bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases. Bacterial diseases 
common to New England waters include Bacterial Kidney Disease (BKD), 
Enteric

[[Page 51424]]

Redmouth Disease (ERM), Cold Water Disease (CWD), and Vibriosis (Mills, 
1971; Gaston, 1988; Olafsen and Roberts, 1993; Egusa, 1992). To reduce 
the likelihood of disease outbreaks or epizootic events, cultured 
salmon used for aquaculture purposes routinely receive vaccinations for 
these pathogens prior to stocking into marine sites. Fungal diseases 
such as Furunculosis can affect all life stages of salmon in both fresh 
and salt water, and the causative agent (Saprolignia spp.) is 
ubiquitous to most water bodies. The risk of an epizootic occurring 
during fish culture operations is greater because of the increased 
numbers of host animals reared at much higher densities than would be 
found in the wild. In addition, stressors associated with intensive 
fish culture operations (i.e., handling, stocking, tagging, and sea-
lice loads) may increase susceptibility to infections. Disease from 
fish culture operations may be spread to wild salmon directly through 
effluent discharge or indirectly from either escapes of cultured 
salmon, or through smolts and returning adults passing through 
embayments where pathogen loads are increased to a level such that 
infection occurs and diseases may be transferred.
    A number of viral diseases that could affect wild populations have 
occurred during the culture of Atlantic salmon, such as Infectious 
Pancreatic Necrosis, Salmon Swimbladder Sarcoma Virus, Infectious 
Salmon Anemia (ISA), and Salmon Papilloma (Olafsen and Roberts, 1993). 
In 2007, the Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis virus was isolated in sea 
run fish in the Connecticut River program. It is most likely these fish 
contracted the disease during their time at sea and it was detected in 
the hatchery due to the rigorous fish health monitoring and assessment 
protocols. ISA is of particular concern for the GOM DPS because of the 
nature of the pathogen and the high mortality rates associated with the 
disease. Most notably, a 2001 outbreak of ISA in Cobscook Bay led to an 
emergency depopulation of all commercially cultured salmon in the bay. 
In addition to complete depopulation of all cultured salmon, the MDMR 
ordered all cages be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, all sites be 
fallowed for 3 months, and subsequent re-stocking of cages occur at 
lower densities with only a single year class. These measures were 
initially successful; however, subsequent testing for ISA has revealed 
additional detections of the virus in Cobscook Bay (Maine) sites in 
2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.
    Disease(s) can have devastating population-wide effects when they 
occur; we find that the threat from disease (within Factor C) to the 
persistence of the GOM DPS is secondary to threats identified in above 
in Factors A (dams) and below in D (inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms for dams), and E (low marine survival).
    Predation is a natural and necessary process in properly 
functioning aquatic ecosystems (for a comprehensive discussion see 
section 8.3.1 of Fay et al. (2006)). Atlantic salmon have evolved a 
suite of strategies that allow them to co-exist with the numerous 
predators they encounter throughout their life cycle. However, natural 
predator-prey relationships in aquatic ecosystems in Maine have been 
substantially altered through the spread of nonnative fish species 
(e.g., smallmouth bass), habitat alterations (e.g., river channel 
simplification and dams), and the decline of other diadromous species 
that would otherwise serve as an alternative prey source for fish that 
feed on Atlantic salmon smolts and adults.
    The threat of predation on the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon is 
important because of the imbalance between the very low numbers of 
adults returning to spawn and the recent increase in population levels 
of some native predators such as double-crested cormorants, striped 
bass, and several species of seals as well as non-native predators, 
such as smallmouth bass; we find that the threat from predation (within 
Factor C) to the persistence of the GOM DPS is secondary to threats 
identified above in Factors A (dams) and below in D (inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms for dams), and E (low marine survival).

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    A variety of state and Federal statutes and regulations directly or 
indirectly address potential threats to Atlantic salmon and their 
habitat. These laws are complemented by international actions under 
NASCO and many interagency agreements and state-Federal cooperative 
efforts specifically designed to protect Atlantic salmon. 
Implementation and enforcement of these laws and regulations could be 
strengthened to further protect Atlantic salmon. State and Federal 
agencies have established coordination mechanisms and joined with 
private industries and landowners in partnerships for the protection of 
Atlantic salmon. These partnerships will be critical to the recovery of 
the species. However, there are still major threats to the GOM DPS for 
which current regulatory mechanisms remain inadequate, such as dams, 
water withdrawals, and degraded water quality. For further discussion 
of these regulatory mechanisms, see section 8.4 of Fay et al. (2006).
Dams
    Atlantic salmon require a diverse array of well connected habitat 
types in order to complete their life history. Present conditions 
within the range of the GOM DPS only allow salmon to access a fraction 
of river miles that were historically accessible. Even where salmon can 
presently access suitable habitat, they must often pass several dams to 
reach their natal spawning habitat.
    Most hydroelectric dams in the large watersheds of the GOM DPS 
(Penobscot, Kennebec, and Androscoggin) are licensed by the Federal 
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the Federal Power Act (FPA). 
Currently, within the historic range of Atlantic salmon in the GOM DPS 
there are 19 hydroelectric dams in the Androscoggin watershed, 18 in 
the Kennebec watershed, and 23 in the Penobscot watershed. Although 
Section 18 of the FPA authorizes the Services to prescribe upstream and 
downstream fishways, 16 hydroelectric dams within the range of the GOM 
DPS in the Androscoggin watershed are impassible due to the lack of 
fishways, along with 15 dams in the Kennebec, and 12 dams in the 
Penobscot. Presently, 15 dams in the Androscoggin, 7 dams in the 
Kennebec, and 9 dams in the Penobscot are FERC-licensed without any 
prescribed fish passage requirements. In these cases, reservations of 
FPA section 18 authority are often in place that could allow fishways 
to be prescribed by the Services. However, a substantial amount of 
mortality and passage inefficiency would still occur even with 
fishways, given that fish passage facilities are never 100 percent 
efficient. In addition, implementing any new fishway prescriptions 
could take several years because the FERC rehearing process must first 
run its course.
    Furthermore, fish passage is not the only threat to salmon caused 
by hydroelectric dams. The effects of habitat degradation and the 
altered environmental features that favor nonnative species pose an 
equal or even greater impediment to Atlantic salmon recovery via 
reduction in production capacity of freshwater rearing areas above 
dams. Sections 10(a) and 10(j) of the FPA could be used by the Services 
to recommend measures to minimize these effects, but these mechanisms 
are largely discretionary and often not

[[Page 51425]]

required by the FERC (Black et al., 1998). Section 4(e) of the FPA 
requires FERC to give equal consideration to developmental and 
nondevelopmental values on Federal reservations. In other parts of the 
country, section 4(e) is often used by the Services to recommend 
fisheries enhancements; however, Federal lands where Section 4(e) could 
be applied are rare in Maine.
    For a hydropower project to be relicensed by the FERC, the State of 
Maine must first certify that continued operation of the project will 
comply with Maine's water quality standards pursuant to Section 401 of 
the Clean Water Act. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection 
(MDEP) is the certifying agency for all hydropower project licensing 
and relicensings in the State of Maine, except for projects in 
unorganized territories subject to permitting by the Land Use 
Regulation Commission (LURC). Through the water quality certification 
process, the MDEP can require fish passage and habitat enhancements at 
FERC licensed hydroelectric projects.
    The vast majority of dams within the range of the GOM DPS do not 
require either a FERC license or MDEP water quality certificate. These 
non-jurisdictional dams are typically small, non-generating dams that 
were historically used for a variety of purposes, including flood 
control, storage, and process water (for industries such as blueberry 
harvesting). Practically all of these dams within the range of the GOM 
DPS do not have fish passage facilities and impact historical Atlantic 
salmon habitat. Many of these non-jurisdictional dams are no longer 
used for their intended purposes; however, many smaller dams maintain 
water levels in lakes and ponds. Although the MDEP can be petitioned by 
the public to set minimum flows and water levels at these dams, the 
MDEP has no direct statutory authority under Maine law to require 
fisheries related enhancements without public request or petition. 
Removal of non-hydropower generating dams in Maine may require a permit 
under the Maine Natural Resources Protection Act or the Maine Waterway 
Development and Conservation Act. Owners of non-hydroelectric dams can 
petition the MDEP to be released from ownership; however, the MDEP does 
not have the authority to require dam removal without the consent of 
the owner.
    We find that the threat from the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms for dams is one of the three most influential stressors, in 
addition to threats from dams on freshwater salmon habitat (see 
discussion in Factor A above) and low marine survival (see discussion 
in Factor E below), negatively affecting the persistence of the GOM 
DPS.
Water Withdrawals
    Maine has made substantial progress in regulating water withdrawal 
for agricultural use. Requests for water withdrawals for irrigation in 
unorganized towns in Maine require approval from the LURC. In approving 
any request for water withdrawals, the LURC must ensure that the action 
does not cause a surface water body to be unsuitable for the existing 
and designated uses of the water body or otherwise result in a 
violation of state or Federal water quality laws. The State of Maine 
recently approved a new rule (Chapter 587) that establishes river and 
stream flows and lake and pond water levels to protect natural aquatic 
life and other designated uses in Maine's waters. These rules were 
passed in response to Maine statutory requirements of Title 38, 
sections 470-E and 470-H, to ``establish water use standards for 
maintaining in-stream flows and GPA (Great Pond Class A) lake or pond 
water levels that are protective of aquatic life and other uses and 
that establish criteria for designating watersheds most at risk from 
cumulative water use.'' The new standards are based on natural 
variation of flows and water levels, but allow variances if use will 
still be protective of applicable state and Federal water quality 
classifications. In addition, in 2002 the State of Maine enacted 
legislation (LD 1488), referred to as the Sustainable Water Use Policy, 
that requires the MDEP to work with state, regional, and local agencies 
to develop water use policies that protect the environment from 
excessive drawdown of water sources, including rivers, lakes, streams, 
and ground water, during low flow periods, and requires major water 
users to report any use that is above threshold levels. The 
Commissioner of the MDEP is then required to submit a summary report on 
major water uses to the legislature on an annual basis. It is unclear 
how many, if any, municipalities have developed their own water use 
policies and while these policies consider general effects on the 
environment; no special consideration is required for the protection of 
Atlantic salmon or its habitat.
    We find the threat from the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms for water withdrawals to the persistence of the GOM DPS to 
be secondary to the significant threat posed by dams (within Factor A 
above), the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms for dams 
(within Factor D below), and low marine survival (within Factor E 
below).
Water Quality
    The MDEP issues National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 
(NPDES) permits for point source discharges from freshwater hatcheries, 
municipal facilities, and other industrial facilities. Currently, we 
review and comment only on NPDES permits issued to facilities that 
discharge within the range of the GOM DPS as listed in 2000 (i.e., 
excluding the upper Penobscot, upper Kennebec, and Androscoggin). 
Therefore, MDEP could potentially be permitting discharges that do not 
minimize adverse effects on salmon populations in the larger rivers in 
Maine (e.g., Penobscot). There is currently no mechanism that would 
require MDEP to seek the Services' review and comments on NPDES permits 
issued for river systems where populations of Atlantic salmon are not 
currently listed under the ESA. An overboard discharge (OBD) is the 
discharge of wastewater from residential, commercial, and publicly 
owned facilities to Maine's streams, rivers lakes, and the ocean. OBDs 
will continue to contribute to poor water quality throughout the State 
until the regulatory phase-out is complete. The regulatory framework 
for the phase-out of OBDs includes: the OBD Grant Removal Program that 
awards partial or full funding to facilities to purchase an OBD 
replacement system, with priority given to those OBDs that occur in 
high value shellfish areas; a prohibition on licensure for new OBDs 
unless the discharges were in continuous existence 12 months preceding 
June 1, 1987; a requirement that the buyers of properties served by 
OBDs obtain a qualified evaluation of whether the OBD can be replaced 
with a non-discharging alternative system prior to the sale of the 
property; and the requirement of proof, prior to license renewal, that 
the OBD owner had an evaluation completed to determine whether a 
technologically feasible replacement exists for an existing OBD system.
    The NMFS Habitat Conservation Division has the opportunity to 
comment on draft NPDES permits with respect to potential effects on 
Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) under the provisions of the Magnuson-
Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Because MDEP is not 
required to submit draft NPDES permits to NMFS' Habitat Conservation 
Division before issuing the final permit, however NMFS' Habitat 
Conservation Division does not consistently review and comment on NPDES 
permits and potential effects on Atlantic salmon EFH.

[[Page 51426]]

    We find the threat from the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms for water quality to the persistence of the GOM DPS to be 
secondary to the significant threat posed by dams (within Factor A 
above), the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms for dams 
(within Factor D), and low marine survival (within Factor E below).
    In summary, our review of state and national regulatory mechanisms 
under Factor D demonstrates that although regulatory mechanisms are in 
place that should address direct and incidental take of Atlantic salmon 
and conserve salmon habitat, these regulatory mechanisms are 
insufficient or are not being implemented effectively to address the 
needs of salmon. We find that the threat from the inadequacy of 
existing regulatory mechanisms for dams is one of the three most 
significant stressors negatively affecting the persistence of the GOM 
DPS (in addition to the threat from dams on freshwater salmon habitat 
(within Factor A) and low marine survival (within Factor E below). The 
threat to the persistence of the GOM DPS as a result of the inadequacy 
of regulatory mechanisms to address direct and incidental take of 
salmon, water withdrawals and water quality is secondary to threats 
from dams (within Factor A above), the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms for dams (within Factor D), and low marine 
survival (within Factor E below).

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting its Continued Existence

Artificial Propagation
    Hatchery supplementation through captive propagation and 
maintenance of broodstocks can have positive and negative effects on 
the recovery and conservation of naturally spawning salmonid 
populations (see section 8.5.1 of Fay et al. (2006) for a more 
comprehensive discussion). We assessed the effect of the conservation 
hatchery programs in terms of the positive or negative contribution of 
the program to recovery and conservation of naturally spawning Atlantic 
salmon in the GOM DPS. From the following assessment, we were able to 
determine how the current conservation hatchery program may influence 
the extinction risk projections of the PVA. Below we describe several 
ways in which hatchery supplementation reduces the risk of extinction 
of the GOM DPS and also note several potential risks of reliance on the 
conservation hatcheries.
    The USFWS operates two hatcheries in support of Atlantic salmon 
recovery efforts in Maine. Together, GLNFH and CBNFH raise and stock 
over 600,000 smolts and 3.5 million fry annually. The primary focus of 
the conservation hatchery program for Atlantic salmon in the GOM DPS is 
to conserve the genetic legacy of Atlantic salmon in Maine until 
habitats can support natural, self-sustaining populations (Bartron et 
al., 2006). As such, a great deal of consideration is given to 
broodstock collection, spawning protocols, genetic screening for 
aquaculture escapees, and other considerations as outlined by Bartron 
et al. (2006). The current program started in 1992, when a river-
specific broodstock and stocking program was implemented for rivers in 
Maine (Bartron et al., 2006). This strategy complies with NASCO 
guidelines for stock rebuilding (USASAC, 2005). The stocking program 
was initiated for two reasons: (1) Runs were declining in every river 
in Maine, and numerous studies indicated that restocking efforts are 
more successful when the donor population comes from the river to be 
stocked (Moring et al., 1995); and (2) The numbers of returning adult 
Atlantic salmon to the rivers were very low, and artificial propagation 
had the potential to increase the number of juvenile fish in the river 
through fry and other early life stage stocking. Current practices of 
fry, parr, and smolt stocking as well as recovery of parr for hatchery 
rearing ensure that river-specific brood stock is available for future 
production.
    Atlantic salmon from the Narraguagus, Pleasant, Sheepscot, Machias, 
East Machias, and Dennys populations are maintained at CBNFH (Bartron 
et al., 2006) in East Orland, Maine. Additionally, adult Atlantic 
salmon are trapped at the Veazie Dam on the Penobscot River, 
transferred to CBNFH, and held until spawning in the fall of each year. 
Adult Atlantic salmon (with the exception of the Penobscot River) are 
maintained in one of six river-specific broodstock rooms. Within each 
broodstock room, adults are maintained separately by capture year. 
Capture year is defined as the year parr were collected from a river. 
Each capture year may represent one to two year classes. In addition, 
fully captive lines, or ``pedigree lines,'' can be and are implemented 
when the recovery of parr from the river environment is expected to be 
low to ensure future spawning stock is available (Bartron et al., 
2006). Pedigree lines are established at the time of stocking, where a 
proportional representation of each family from a particular river-
specific broodstock is retained in the hatchery while the rest of the 
fry are stocked into the river. If parr are recovered from the fry 
stocking for the pedigree lines, individuals are screened to determine 
origin and familial representation and are integrated into the pedigree 
line to maintain some component of natural selection.
    The goals of the captive propagation program include maintenance of 
the unique genetic characteristics of each river-specific broodstock 
and maintenance of genetic diversity within each broodstock (Bartron et 
al., 2006). Evaluation of estimates of genetic diversity within captive 
populations, such as average heterozygosity, relatedness, and allelic 
diversity and frequency are monitored within the hatchery broodstocks 
according to the CBNFH Broodstock Management Plan (Bartron et al., 
2006).
    In summary, hatchery supplementation positively influences 
extinction risk projections (i.e., reduces the chances of extinction) 
for the GOM DPS through the following mechanisms:
    1. A rigorous genetic screening program reduces the risks of 
outbreeding depression that may otherwise result from aquaculture 
escapees or their progeny being integrated into the genome of the GOM 
DPS;
    2. The effective use of spawning protocols preserves genetic 
variation inherent in each of the genetically unique river populations 
maintained at CBNFH, ensures the long-term maintenance of genetic 
variation, and minimizes the potential for inbreeding or domestication 
selection and associated reductions in fitness in the wild;
    3. The use of captive broodstock from seven separate populations 
reduces the risks of random environmental and demographic events;
    4. The use of pedigree lines for those populations most at risk 
reduces the chance of catastrophic loss of an entire population;
    5. Stocking of juveniles into rivers significantly reduces the 
risks of catastrophic loss at CBNFH. That is, if a catastrophic loss of 
one or more captive broodstock lines occurred at CBNFH, a component of 
the genetic variability lost could be recovered by collecting parr for 
broodstock;
    6. Stocking of large numbers of smolts (Penobscot and Narraguagus) 
enhances adult returns, thus reducing demographic risks;
    7. Stocking large numbers of smolts (Penobscot and Narraguagus) 
reduces the risks of catastrophic loss because at least one cohort is 
always at sea and could be collected as broodstock in case of a 
catastrophic event in freshwater

[[Page 51427]]

(e.g., a large contaminant spill) or in a hatchery (e.g., disease 
outbreak).
    In evaluating the overall effect of hatchery supplementation to the 
extinction risk analysis presented by Fay et al. (2006), the potential 
negative effects of hatchery supplementation must also be carefully 
considered. The potential negative effects of hatchery supplementation 
include competition, artificial selection, inbreeding depression, and 
outbreeding depression.
    Competition between hatchery-reared and wild Atlantic salmon is not 
well researched. Competition could occur between wild and hatchery 
juveniles (i.e., competition for food and space) or between wild and 
hatchery adults (i.e., competition for redd sites). To minimize 
competitive interactions that may occur between juveniles, fry are 
stocked at least 50 m from any known redd. At this time, competition 
for redd sites between wild and hatchery-reared salmon appears to be 
minimal, because there are substantial amounts of accessible yet unused 
spawning habitat throughout the range of the GOM DPS given the low 
abundance of returning adults in the GOM DPS.
    Over the long term, artificial selection for the hatchery 
environment is considered a threat to survival. As pedigree lines 
become established, natural selection from fry to parr stage may no 
longer be incorporated into the life cycle if parr are not recovered in 
numbers sufficient for broodstock and spawning requirements. Over time, 
this process could result in a population that is well adapted to the 
artificial environment and poorly adapted to the natural environment; 
this form of artificial selection is widely know as domestication 
selection (Hey et al., 2005).
    Both inbreeding depression and outbreeding depression are widely 
accepted as potential risks in artificial propagation programs. As 
population sizes decrease, and the potential for mating related 
individuals increase, the threat of inbreeding in a population also 
increases. Inbreeding may also decrease overall fitness of a population 
(Spielman et al., 2004; Lynch and O'Hely, 2001), reducing the long-term 
population viability and therefore inhibiting the success of 
restoration and recovery efforts. Of similar concern is the threat of 
outbreeding depression, and decreased fitness resulting from the mating 
of individuals from significantly genetically different populations.
    Although actions are implemented to minimize these risks (see 
Bartron et al., 2006), many risks cannot be fully removed from the 
captive propagation program, including potential risks that are 
currently unknown or cannot be managed against.
    The conservation hatchery program for the GOM DPS Atlantic salmon 
in Maine is currently limited by capacity at CBNFH and GLNFH. 
Incorporating river-specific broodstocks for additional populations is 
currently limited by space and biosecurity constraints. Location of the 
six currently maintained river-specific broodstocks at a single 
facility (CBNFH) is thus considered a risk due to the possibility of a 
catastrophic event (such as disease, loss of electricity, or loss of 
funding for hatcheries), which could result in the loss of one or all 
of the river-specific broodstocks.
    The positive and negative effects of hatchery supplementation have 
been reviewed by the National Research Council (NRC, 2004), Fay et al. 
(2006), and the Sustainable Ecosystems Institute (SEI, 2007). The 
review by SEI in 2007 was rigorous, specifically focusing on current 
hatchery operations, protocols, and practices and whether these 
practices are being implemented in the most scientifically sound manner 
to support recovery of Atlantic salmon in the GOM DPS. The overall 
recommendation from SEI with respect to the current river-specific 
program was that the river-specific integrity of the existing salmon 
populations should be retained, and there is no reason to depart from 
the river-specific nature of recovery and enhancement strategies 
without further extensive research on the fitness consequences of any 
potential alternative (SEI, 2007). While SEI was supportive overall of 
the current river-specific genetic maintenance program, it questioned 
the role the hatcheries play in increasing self-sustaining populations 
in the wild, and thus the contribution of the program to the recovery 
of the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon. In short, SEI concluded that 
insufficient information is available to conclude whether 
supplementation significantly contributes to recovery objectives, aside 
from preservation of genetic diversity.
    After considering both the positive and negative effects of 
hatchery supplementation, we conclude that the overall effect of the 
hatchery programs designed to conserve the genetic legacy of Atlantic 
salmon in Maine and lead to recovery is to reduce the extinction risk 
of the GOM DPS. Currently the GOM DPS is largely sustained by 
artificial propagation, therefore, artificial propagation through 
conservation hatcheries is essential for the persistence of the GOM DPS 
despite the risks from artificial propagation. The risks of competition 
between hatchery-reared and naturally-reared salmon appear to be 
minimal at this time, as do the risks of domestication selection, 
inbreeding depression, and outbreeding depression (Fay et al., 2006), 
although the historical loss of diversity cannot be dismissed (Lage and 
Kornfield, 2006). Further, we consider the hatchery-dependent 
populations that are maintained at CBNFH and GLNFH essential for 
recovery of the GOM DPS because the hatchery populations contain a high 
proportion of the genetic diversity remaining in the GOM DPS.
    However, we believe the current conservation hatchery program must 
be improved to further recovery of the GOM DPS. We recognize that SEI 
(2007) questioned the role the hatcheries play in increasing self-
sustaining populations in the wild, and thus the contribution of the 
program to the recovery of the GOM DPS. In particular, the program 
should be expanded to include more assessment and evaluation of 
hatchery fish in the wild to understand how hatchery-origin fish can 
effectively contribute to increasing wild populations. Hatchery 
supplementation of the GOM DPS is currently important in maintaining 
genetic diversity levels. However, even with hatchery supplementation, 
the GOM DPS remains at extremely low levels (less than 150 naturally-
reared spawning adults in the GOM DPS in 2006).
Aquaculture
    Atlantic salmon that escape from farms and commercial hatcheries 
pose a threat to native Atlantic salmon populations (Naylor et al., 
2005) because captive-reared fish are selectively bred to promote 
behavioral and physiological attributes desirable in captivity (Hindar 
et al., 1991; Utter et al., 1993; Hard et al., 2000); for further 
discussion of the threat of aquaculture see section 8.5.2 in Fay et al. 
(2006)). Experimental tests of genetic divergence between farmed and 
wild salmon indicate that farming generates rapid genetic change as a 
result of both intentional and unintentional selection in culture and 
that those changes alter important fitness-related traits (McGinnity et 
al., 1997; Gross, 1998). Consequently, aquaculture fish are often less 
fit in the wild than naturally produced salmon (Fleming et al., 2000). 
Annual invasions of escaped adult aquaculture salmon have the potential 
to disrupt local adaptations and reduce genetic diversity of wild 
populations (Fleming et al., 2000). Bursts of immigration also disrupt 
genetic differentiation among wild Atlantic salmon stocks, especially 
when wild populations are small (Mork, 1991).

[[Page 51428]]

Natural selection may be able to purge wild populations of maladaptive 
traits but may be less able to if the intrusions occur year after year. 
Under this scenario, population fitness is likely to decrease as the 
selection from the artificial culture operation overrides wild 
selection (Hindar et al., 1991; Fleming and Einum, 1997), a process 
called outbreeding depression. The threat of outbreeding depression is 
likely to be greater in North America where aquaculture salmon have 
been based, in part, on European Landcatch strain. To minimize these 
risks, the use of non-North American strains of salmon has been phased 
out in the United States.
    In addition to genetic effects, escaped farmed salmon can disrupt 
redds of wild salmon, compete with wild salmon for food and habitat, 
transfer disease or parasites to wild salmon, and degrade benthic 
habitat (Windsor and Hutchinson, 1990; Saunders, 1991; Youngson et al., 
1993; Webb et al., 1993; Clifford et al., 1997). Farmed salmon have 
been documented to spawn successfully, but not always at the same time 
as wild salmon (Lura and Saegrov, 1991; Jonsson et al., 1991; Webb et 
al., 1991; Fleming et al., 1996). Late spawning aquaculture fish could 
limit wild spawning success through redd superimposition. There has 
also been recent concern over potential interactions when wild adult 
salmon migrate past closely spaced cages, creating the potential for 
behavioral interactions, disease transfer, or interactions with 
predators (Lura and Saegrov, 1991; Crozier, 1993; Skaala and Hindar, 
1997; Carr et al., 1997; DFO, 1999). In Canada, the survival of wild 
postsmolts moving from Passamaquoddy Bay to the Bay of Fundy was 
inversely related to the density of aquaculture cages (DFO, 1999).
    The development and expansion of Atlantic salmon aquaculture has 
occurred in the North Atlantic since the early 1970s. Production of 
farmed Atlantic salmon in 2003 was estimated at over 1.1 million tons 
(1.1 metric tons (mt)) worldwide, 761,752 tons (773,976 mt) in the 
North Atlantic, and 6,435 tons (6,538 mt) in Maine (ICES, 2004). The 
Maine Atlantic salmon aquaculture industry is concentrated in Cobscook 
Bay near Eastport, Maine. The industry in Canada, just across the 
border, is approximately twice the size of the Maine industry. Five 
freshwater commercial hatcheries in the United States have provided 
smolts to the sea cages and produce up to four million smolts per year.
    Three primary broodstock lines have been used for farm production. 
The lines include fish from the Penobscot River, St. John River, and 
historically an industry strain from Scotland. The Scottish strain was 
imported into the United States in the early 1990s and is composed 
primarily of Norwegian strains, frequently referred to as Landcatch. In 
recent years, milt of Norwegian origin has been imported by the 
industry from Iceland (Baum, 1998). However, placement of 
reproductively viable non-North American origin Atlantic salmon into 
marine cages in the United States has been eliminated.
    Escaped farmed salmon are known to enter Maine rivers. For example, 
at least 17 percent (14 of 83 fish) of the rod catch in the East 
Machias River were captive-reared adults in 1990. In addition to the 
frequency and magnitude of escape events that drive annual variability, 
returns of captive-reared adults to Maine rivers are influenced by the 
amount of production and proximity of rearing sites in adjacent bays. 
About 60 percent of commercial salmon production in Maine occurs at 
sites on Cobscook and Passamaquoddy Bays, into which the Dennys and St. 
Croix (not a part of the GOM DPS) Rivers flow; 35 percent on Machias 
Bay and the estuary of the Little River, within seven miles of the 
Machias and East Machias Rivers; and the remainder on the estuaries of 
the Pleasant and Narraguagus Rivers, or adjacent to Blue Hill Bay. The 
percentage of captive-reared fish in adult returns is highest in the 
St. Croix (not a part of the GOM DPS) and Dennys Rivers and lowest in 
the Penobscot River (less than 0.01 percent in the years 1994 to 2001), 
with the Narraguagus runs having low and sporadic proportions of 
captive-reared salmon.
    A large escape event also occurred in 2005 when four marine salmon 
aquaculture sites in Western New Brunswick, Canada, were vandalized 
from early May through November 2005, resulting in approximately 
136,000 escaped farmed salmon. Most escapees were unmarked 1SW salmon 
of similar size (2-5 kg). Escaped aquaculture-origin salmon from these 
vandalism events entered the Dennys River and possibly other Eastern 
Maine rivers in 2005. The Services and MDMR are cooperatively 
implementing a program to minimize genetic and ecological risks from 
this escape (Bean et al., 2006).
    Aquaculture escapees and resultant interactions with native stocks 
are expected to continue to occur within the range of the GOM DPS given 
the continued operation of farms. While recent containment protocols 
have greatly decreased the incidence of losses from hatcheries and 
pens, the risk of large escapes occurring is still significant. Escaped 
farmed fish are of great concern in Maine because, even at low numbers, 
they can represent a substantial portion of the returns to some rivers. 
Wild populations at low levels are particularly vulnerable to genetic 
intrusion or other disturbance caused by escapees (Hutchings, 1991; 
DFO, 1999).
    Despite the concerns with aquaculture described above, recent 
advances in containment and marking of aquaculture fish limit the 
negative impacts of aquaculture fish with the GOM DPS. Permit 
conditions required by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) and MDEP 
require genetic screening to ensure that only North American strain 
salmon are used in commercial aquaculture, require marking to 
facilitate tracing fish back to the source and cause of the escape, 
containment management plans and audits, and rigorous disease 
screening. Given these conditions, within Factor E we find the threat 
from aquaculture to the persistence of the GOM DPS to be secondary to 
the significant threat posed by low marine survival, described below. 
If these measures were no longer in place or were less protective, the 
threat from aquaculture would be much greater.
Low Marine Survival
    Large changes in marine survival are known to have occurred 
recently. Marine survival rates since 1991 continue to be low for U.S. 
stocks of Atlantic salmon, (see section 8.5.3 of Fay et al. (2006)). 
Natural mortality in the marine environment can be attributed to four 
general sources: predation, starvation, disease/parasites, and abiotic 
factors. While our understanding of the marine ecology of Atlantic 
salmon has increased substantially in the past decade, the factors 
responsible for reduced marine survival remain unclear. In general, 
return rates for Atlantic salmon across North America have declined 
over the last 30 years (ICES 1998). Reported Atlantic salmon marine 
survival rates prior to the 1990s ranged from zero to twenty percent 
(Bley and Moring, 1988). For the period 2001 to 2005, 2SW return rates 
for wild Narraguagus River smolts ranged from 0.2 to 1.2 percent. 
Return rates for this same period for 2SW hatchery Penobscot River 
smolts ranged from 0.06 to 0.17 percent (ICES, 2006). Chaput et al. 
(2005) reported on the possibility of a phase (or regime) shift of 
productivity for Atlantic salmon in the Northwest Atlantic. Strong 
evidence is

[[Page 51429]]

presented to support a decrease in the recruit-per-spawner relationship 
for North American Atlantic salmon populations that likely occurred 
over several years in the late 1980s through early 1990s. The concept 
of phase shift has previously been documented and discussed for Pacific 
salmon populations (Beamish et al., 1999). Chaput et al. (2005) did not 
speculate on the causes of this shift. Friedland et al. (2005) 
summarized numerous studies that suggest that climate mediates marine 
survival for Atlantic salmon as well as other fish species.
    In summary, marine survival is critical to shaping recruitment 
patterns in Atlantic salmon and causing the subsequent low abundance of 
adult salmon; however, the mechanisms of the observed persistent 
decline in marine survival remain unknown. We find that low marine 
survival is a significant threat to the persistence of the GOM DPS. We 
conclude that low marine survival, dams and their inter-related effects 
(described in Factor A, above), and the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms for dams (Factor D, above) are the most 
influential stressors negatively affecting the persistence of the GOM 
DPS.
Depleted Diadromous Communities
    The ecological setting in which Maine Atlantic salmon evolved is 
considerably different than what exists today. Ecological changes that 
have occurred over the last 200 years are ubiquitous and span a wide 
array of spatial and temporal scales. Of particular concern for 
Atlantic salmon recovery efforts within the range of the GOM DPS is the 
dramatic decline observed in the diadromous fish community. At historic 
abundance levels, Fay et al. (2006) and Saunders et al. (2006) 
hypothesize that several of the co-evolved diadromous fishes may have 
provided substantial benefits to Atlantic salmon through at least four 
mechanisms: serving as an alternative prey source for salmon predators; 
serving as prey for salmon directly; depositing marine-derived 
nutrients in freshwater; and increasing substrate diversity of rivers. 
Following is a brief description of each mechanism.
    Fay et al. (2006) and Saunders et al. (2006) hypothesized that the 
historically large populations of clupeids (i.e., members of the family 
Clupeidae, such as alewives, blueback herring, and American shad) 
likely provided a robust alternative forage resource (or prey buffer) 
for opportunistic native predators of salmon during a variety of events 
in the salmon's life history. First, pre-spawn adult alewives likely 
served as a prey buffer for migrating Atlantic salmon smolts. Evidence 
for this relationship includes significant spatial and temporal overlap 
of migrations, similar body size, numbers of alewives that exceeded 
salmon smolt populations by several orders of magnitude (Smith, 1898; 
Collette and Klein-MacPhee, 2002), and a higher caloric content per 
individual (Schulze, 1996); alewives were thus likely a substantial 
alternative prey resource (i.e., prey buffer) that protected salmon 
smolts from native predators such as cormorants, otters, ospreys, and 
bald eagles within sympatric migratory corridors (Mather, 1998; USASAC, 
2004). Second, adult American shad likely provided a similar prey 
buffer to potential predation on Atlantic salmon adults by otters and 
seals. Pre-spawn adult shad would enter these same rivers and begin 
their upstream spawning migration at approximately the same time as 
adult salmon. Historically, shad runs were considerably larger than 
salmon runs (Atkins and Foster, 1869; Stevenson, 1898). Thus, native 
predators of medium to large size fish in the estuarine and lower river 
zones could have preyed on these 1.5 to 2.5 kg size fish readily. 
Third, juvenile shad and blueback herring may have represented a 
substantial prey buffer from potential predation on Atlantic salmon fry 
and parr by native opportunistic predators such as mergansers, herons, 
mink, and fallfish. Large populations of juvenile shad (and blueback 
herring, with similar life history and habitat preferences to shad) 
would have occupied main stem and larger tributary river reaches 
through much of the summer and early fall. Juvenile shad and herring 
would ultimately emigrate to the ocean, along with juvenile alewives 
from adjacent lacustrine habitats, in the late summer and fall. 
Recognizing that the range and migratory corridors of these juvenile 
clupeids would not be precisely sympatric with juvenile salmon habitat, 
there nonetheless would have been a substantial spatial overlap amongst 
the habitats and populations of these various juvenile fish stocks. 
Even in reaches where sympatric occupation by juvenile salmon and 
juvenile clupeids may have been low or absent, factors such as predator 
mobility and instinct driven energetic efficiency (i.e., optimal 
foraging theory) need to be considered since the opportunity for prey 
switching would have been much greater than today, and the opportunity 
for prey switching may produce stable predator-prey systems with 
coexistence of both prey and predator populations (Krivan, 1996).
    At historical abundance levels, other diadromous species also 
represented significant supplemental foraging resources for salmon in 
sympatric habitats. In particular, anadromous rainbow smelt are known 
to be a favored spring prey item of Atlantic salmon kelts (a life stage 
after Atlantic salmon spawn; Cunjak et al., 1998). A 1995 radio tag 
study found that Miramichi River (New Brunswick, Canada) kelts showed a 
net upstream movement shortly after ice break-up (Komadina-Douthwright 
et al., 1997). This movement was concurrent with the onset of upstream 
migrations of rainbow smelt (Komadina-Douthwright et al., 1997). In 
addition, Moore et al. (1995) suggested that the general availability 
of forage fishes shortly after ice break-up in the Miramichi could be 
critical to the rejuvenation and ultimate survival of kelts as they 
prepared to return to sea. Kelts surviving to become repeat spawners 
are especially important due to higher fecundity (Baum, 1997; NRC, 
2004). The historical availability of anadromous rainbow smelt as 
potential kelt forage in lower river zones may have been important in 
sustaining the viability of this salmon life stage. Conversely, the 
broad declines in rainbow smelt populations may be partially 
responsible for the declining occurrence of repeat spawners in Maine's 
salmon rivers.
    Historically, the upstream migrations of large populations of adult 
clupeids, sea lamprey and salmon themselves, provided a conduit for the 
import and deposition of biomass and nutrients of marine origin into 
freshwater environments. Mechanisms of direct deposition included 
discharge of urea, discharge of gametes on the spawning grounds, and 
deposition of post-spawn adult carcasses (Durbin et al., 1979). 
Migrations and other movements of mobile predators and scavengers of 
adult carcasses likely resulted in further distribution of imported 
nutrients throughout the freshwater ecosystem. Conversely, juvenile 
outmigrants of these sea-run species represented a massive annual 
outflux of forage resources for Gulf of Maine predators, while also 
completing the cycle of importing base nutrients back to the ocean 
environment. These types of diffuse mutualism are only recently being 
recognized (Hay et al., 2004). Sea lampreys also likely played a role 
in nutrient cycling. Lampreys prefer spawning habitat that is very 
similar (location and physical characteristics) to that used by 
spawning Atlantic salmon (Kircheis, 2004). Adult lampreys spawn in late 
spring, range in weight from 1 to

[[Page 51430]]

2 kg, and experience 100 percent post-spawning mortality on spawning 
grounds (semelparous). This results in the deposition of marine-origin 
nutrients at about the same time that salmon fry would be emerging from 
redds and beginning to occupy adjacent juvenile production habitats. 
These nutrients would likely have enhanced the primary production 
capability of these habitats for weeks or even months after initial 
deposition, and would gradually be transferred throughout the trophic 
structure of the ecosystem, including those components most important 
to juvenile salmon (e.g., macroinvertebrate production).
    Sea lampreys likely provide an additional benefit to Atlantic 
salmon spawning activity in sympatric reaches. In constructing their 
nests, lamprey carry stones from other locations and deposit them 
centrally in a loose pile within riffle habitat and further utilize 
body scouring to clean silt off stones already at the site (Kircheis, 
2004). Ultimately, a pile of silt-free stones as deep as 25 cm and as 
long as a meter is formed (Leim and Scott, 1966; Scott and Scott, 
1988), into which the lamprey deposit their gametes. The stones 
preferred by lampreys are generally in the same size range as those 
preferred by spawning Atlantic salmon. Thus, lamprey nests can be 
attractive spawning sites for Atlantic salmon (Kircheis, 2004). 
Kircheis (2004) also notes the lamprey's silt-cleaning activities 
during nest construction that may improve the ``quality'' of the 
surrounding environment with respect to potential diversity and 
abundance of macroinvertebrates, a primary food item of juvenile 
salmon.
    Thus, depleted diadromous fish communities have likely played an 
important role in the continued declines of the GOM DPS of Atlantic 
salmon. Conversely, if diadromous populations can be restored, the 
ecological functions those species confer may simultaneously be 
restored. In summary, within Factor E, we find the threat from depleted 
diadromous fish communities to the persistence of the GOM DPS to be 
secondary to the significant threat posed by low marine survival, 
described above.
Competition
    Prior to 1800, the resident riverine fish communities in Maine were 
relatively simple, consisting of brook trout, cusk, white sucker, and a 
number of minnow species. Today, Atlantic salmon co-exist with a 
diverse array of nonnative resident fishes, including brown trout, 
largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and northern pike (MDIFW, 2002). The 
range expansion of nonnative fishes is important, given evidence that 
niche shifts may follow the addition or removal of other competing 
species (Fausch, 1998). For example, in Newfoundland, Canada, where 
fish communities are simple, Atlantic salmon inhabit pools and lakes 
that are generally considered atypical habitats in systems where there 
are more complex fish communities (Gibson, 1993). Use of lacustrine (or 
lake) habitat, in particular, can increase smolt production (Matthews 
et al., 1997). Conversely, if salmon are excluded from these habitats 
through competitive interactions, smolt production may suffer (Ryan, 
1993). Even if salmon are not completely excluded from a given habitat 
type, they may select different, presumably sub-optimal, habitats in 
the presence of certain competitors (Fausch, 1998). Thus, competitive 
interactions may limit Atlantic salmon production through niche 
constriction (Hearn, 1987). The continued range expansion of nonnative 
species (e.g., smallmouth bass, brown trout, and rainbow trout) is of 
particular concern since these species often require similar resources 
as salmon and are therefore expected to be competitors for food and 
space (for a comprehensive discussion of the effects of competition on 
Atlantic salmon see section 8.3.3 of Fay et al. (2006)). In summary, 
within Factor E, we find the threat from competition to the persistence 
of the GOM DPS to be secondary to the significant threat posed by low 
marine survival, described above.
Climate Change
    Global climate change may also affect thermal regimes within the 
range of the GOM DPS (see section 8.1.4 of Fay et al. (2006)). Within 
the range of the GOM DPS, spring runoff has become earlier, water 
content in snow pack for March and April has decreased, and the 
duration of river ice has become shorter (Dudley and Hodgkins, 2002). 
For Atlantic salmon specifically, Juanes et al. (2004) suggest that 
observed changes in adult run timing may be a response to global 
climate change. While some physiological changes at the individual 
level are quite predictable when changes in temperature are known, the 
interactions between individuals, populations, and species are 
impossible to predict at this time given we do not understand how or to 
what degree climate change may or may not affect the freshwater and 
marine environment of the GOM DPS. At this time we do not have enough 
information to determine whether climate change is a threat to the 
persistence of the GOM DPS.
    In summary, of the threats described under Factor E, we find that 
low marine survival is a significant threat to the persistence of the 
GOM DPS given that marine survival is a vital component of Atlantic 
salmon demographics. Aquaculture, depleted diadromous communities, and 
competition (particularly with nonnative fish) are secondary threats to 
the continued existence of the GOM DPS; we do not have enough 
information at this time to evaluate how climate change may or may not 
affect the persistence of the GOM DPS. Artificial propagation poses 
risks to natural populations, as described in this proposed rule. 
However, given the low numbers of naturally-reared spawning adults in 
the GOM DPS, a carefully managed conservation hatchery program is 
essential to sustaining the GOM DPS.

Efforts Being Made to Protect the Species

    Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the ESA requires the Secretary of Commerce to 
make listing determinations solely on the basis of the best scientific 
and commercial data available after taking into account efforts being 
made to protect a species. Therefore, in making a listing 
determination, we first assess a species' level of extinction risk and 
identify factors that have led to its decline. We then assess existing 
efforts being made to protect the species to determine if those 
measures ameliorate the risks.
    In judging the efficacy of existing protective efforts, we rely on 
the joint NMFS-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) ``Policy for 
Evaluation of Conservation Efforts When Making Listing Decisions'' 
(``PECE;'' 68 FR 15100; March 28, 2003). PECE provides direction for 
the consideration of protective efforts identified in conservation 
agreements, conservation plans, management plans, or similar documents 
(developed by Federal agencies, state and local governments, Tribal 
governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals) that have not 
yet been implemented, or have been implemented but have not yet 
demonstrated effectiveness. The policy articulates several criteria for 
evaluating the certainty of implementation and effectiveness of 
protective efforts to aid in determining whether a species should be 
listed as threatened or endangered. Evaluations of the certainty an 
effort will be implemented include whether: the necessary resources 
(e.g., funding and staffing) are available; the requisite agreements 
have been

[[Page 51431]]

formalized such that the necessary authority and regulatory mechanisms 
are in place; there is a schedule for completion and evaluation of the 
stated objectives; and (for voluntary efforts) the necessary incentives 
are in place to ensure adequate participation. The evaluation of the 
certainty of an effort's effectiveness is made on the basis of whether 
the effort or plan: establishes specific conservation objectives; 
identifies the necessary steps to reduce threats or factors for 
decline; includes quantifiable performance measures for the monitoring 
of compliance and effectiveness; incorporates the principles of 
adaptive management; and is likely to improve the species' viability at 
the time of the listing determination.
    PECE also notes several important caveats. Satisfaction of the 
above mentioned criteria for implementation and effectiveness 
establishes a given protective effort as a candidate for consideration, 
but does not mean that an effort will ultimately change the risk 
assessment. The policy stresses that just as listing determinations 
must be based on the viability of the species at the time of review, so 
they must be based on the state of protective efforts at the time of 
the listing determination. PECE does not provide explicit guidance on 
how protective efforts affecting only a portion of a species' range may 
affect a listing determination, other than to say that such efforts 
will be evaluated in the context of other efforts being made and the 
species' overall viability. There are circumstances where threats are 
so imminent, widespread, and/or complex that it may be impossible for 
any agreement or plan to include sufficient efforts to result in a 
determination that listing is not warranted.
    In this section, we evaluate the Penobscot River Restoration 
Project (PRRP), perhaps the most significant of recent fish passage 
agreements, pursuant to PECE. The PRRP is the result of many years of 
negotiations between Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL), U.S. 
Department of the Interior (i.e., USFWS, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 
National Park Service), Penobscot Indian Nation, the State of Maine 
(i.e., Maine State Planning Office, Maine Department of Inland 
Fisheries and Wildlife, and Maine Department of Marine Resources 
(MDMR)), and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs; Atlantic 
Salmon Federation, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, and Natural 
Resources Council of Maine, among others). If implemented, the PRRP 
would lead to the removal of the two lowermost mainstem dams on the 
Penobscot River (Veazie and Great Works) and would decommission the 
Howland Dam and construct a nature-like fishway around it (dams with 
varying levels of fish passage would still exist upstream of these 
sites). This initiative would improve habitat accessibility for all 
diadromous species. There is a significant effort on behalf of the 
Parties and other Federal and non-Federal bodies to secure funds for 
the purchase, decommissioning, and removal of the dams. However, the 
certainty of funding and other necessary actions is not known at this 
time. We strongly support the PRRP; however, at this time it is not 
possible to state with certainty that this project will be fully 
implemented. This protective effort does not as yet provide sufficient 
certainty of implementation and effectiveness to counter the extinction 
risk assessment conclusion that the species is in danger of extinction 
throughout its range.

Finding

    Regarding the petition to list the Kennebec population of Atlantic 
salmon, we find that the Kennebec River population is a part of the GOM 
DPS, based primarily on genetics, as described in this proposed rule. 
We have carefully considered the best scientific and commercial data 
available regarding the past, present and future threats faced by the 
GOM DPS of the Atlantic salmon. We find that listing the GOM DPS of 
Atlantic salmon, which includes the Kennebec River population, as 
endangered is warranted for the reasons described below.
    The proposed GOM DPS is comprised of Atlantic salmon in larger 
river systems including the Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers 
as well as the smaller coastal rivers (Narraguagus, Machias, Sheepscot, 
etc.) that were included in the DPS as listed in 2000 (65 FR 69459, 
November 17, 2000). There are extremely few naturally-reared spawning 
adult salmon present in the GOM DPS (117 in 2006). In 2006, 1,044 sea-
run salmon were captured in the Penobscot River, representing 
approximately only ten percent of the CSE goals for the Penobscot 
River; however, the vast majority of these adult returns were stocked 
as smolts. With the addition of Atlantic salmon in the Penobscot and 
other large rivers to the GOM DPS, the demographic security is somewhat 
increased because populations that are geographically widespread are 
less likely to experience spatially correlated catastrophes. However, 
the numbers of naturally-reared spawning adults within the GOM DPS as 
currently proposed is still quite low and the majority of returning 
adults (whether naturally-reared or smolt-stocked) are found in the 
Penobscot River, despite the addition of other large rivers to the DPS. 
In 2006, only 15 adults returned to the Kennebec and 6 returned to the 
Androscoggin. The PVA generally shows that the GOM DPS is likely to 
continue to decline in terms of adult abundance and projections show 
that the GOM DPS is trending towards extinction.
    The GOM DPS is sustained by a carefully-managed hatchery 
supplementation program. Hatchery supplementation is crucial to the 
continued existence of the GOM DPS, although we recognize that reliance 
on artificial propagation carries risks that cannot be completely 
avoided despite managers' best efforts. We have carefully examined both 
the positive and negative effects of hatchery supplementation. We have 
concluded that current hatchery supplementation practices reduce the 
risk of extinction of the GOM DPS. While we recognize that the 
conservation hatchery programs make a significant contribution to 
reducing the near term risk of extinction, they must continue to be 
improved. Although hatchery supplementation of the GOM DPS is currently 
important in maintaining genetic diversity levels, at this time, these 
programs have not been successful at recovering or maintaining wild, 
self-sustaining populations of Atlantic salmon. There is also the risk 
of catastrophic loss at either or both conservation hatchery 
facilities, despite managers' best efforts to reduce these risks.
    Further, at the present time, there is no evidence to suggest that 
marine survival will increase in the near future. In short, without 
both conservation hatcheries continuing to operate and an increase in 
marine survival, the risk of extinction is quite high and would be even 
higher if and when broodstock goals for smolt production could not be 
met.
    As described above, the demographic effects of the currently low 
marine survival on the GOM DPS are severe, dams limit the viability of 
salmon populations through numerous and sometimes synergistic ways 
(e.g., entrainment, water quality effects, fish community effects, 
among others), and the existing regulatory mechanisms for dams are 
inadequate. As a result, we find that Factor E (in particular) low 
marine survival, Factor A (in particular, dams), and Factor D (in 
particular, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms for dams) 
are the three most influential factors negatively

[[Page 51432]]

affecting the persistence of the GOM DPS.
    We find that threats from reduced habitat complexity, reduced 
habitat connectivity, and poor water quality within Factor A; 
overutilization, disease, and predation (within Factor B), inadequacy 
of existing regulatory mechanisms for water withdrawals and water 
quality within Factor D; and aquaculture, depleted diadromous fish 
communities, and competition within Factor E to be secondary threats 
compared to dams (within Factor A), low marine survival (within Factor 
E) and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms for dams 
(within Factor D). At this time, we do not have enough information to 
determine whether climate change (within Factor E) is a threat to the 
persistence of the GOM DPS. Artificial propagation through conservation 
hatcheries (within Factor E) is vital to sustaining the GOM DPS at this 
time despite the risks from artificial propagation. As a result, we 
propose to list the GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon as endangered.
    As discussed under Efforts Being Made to Protect the Species, we 
cannot rely on the PRRP to offset the threats to the GOM DPS from dams 
in this decision regarding listing the GOM DPS; we also recognize that 
implementation of the PRRP would not alleviate the effects of dams in 
place on any of the other rivers within the GOM DPS.

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the ESA include recovery actions, requirements for 
Federal agencies to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of the 
species, and prohibitions against taking the species, as defined in the 
ESA. Recognition through listing may improve public awareness and 
encourage conservation actions by Federal, state, and local agencies, 
private organizations, and individuals. The ESA provides for possible 
land acquisition and cooperation with the States and provides for 
recovery actions to be carried out for listed species. The requirement 
of Federal agencies to avoid jeopardy and the prohibitions against take 
are discussed below.
    Section 7(a) of the ESA, as amended, requires Federal agencies to 
evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is listed as 
endangered or threatened and with respect to its critical habitat, if 
any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency 
cooperation provision of the ESA are codified at 50 CFR part 402. 
Section 7(a)(4) requires Federal agencies to confer informally with us 
on any action that is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a 
species proposed for listing or result in destruction or adverse 
modification of proposed critical habitat. If a species is subsequently 
listed, section 7(a)(2) requires Federal agencies to ensure that 
activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of the species or destroy or 
adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a 
listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency 
must enter into formal consultation with us under the provisions of 
section 7(a)(2) of the ESA.
    Several Federal agencies are expected to have involvement under 
section 7 of the ESA regarding the Atlantic salmon. The Environmental 
Protection Agency may be required to consult on its permitting 
oversight authority for the Clean Water Act and Clear Air Act. The ACOE 
may be required to consult on permits it issues under section 404 of 
the Clean Water Act and section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. The 
FERC may be required to consult on licenses it issues for hydroelectric 
dams under the FPA. The Federal Highway Administration may be required 
to consult on transportation projects it authorizes, funds, or carries 
out.
    ESA section 9(a) take prohibitions (16 U.S.C. 1538(a)(1)(B)) apply 
to all species listed as endangered. Those prohibitions, in part, make 
it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United 
States to take, import or export, ship in interstate commerce in the 
course of commercial activity, or sell or offer for sale in interstate 
or foreign commerce any wildlife species listed as endangered, except 
as provided in sections 6(g)(2) and 10 of the ESA. It is also illegal 
under ESA section 9 to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or 
ship any such wildlife that has been taken illegally. Section 11 of the 
ESA provides for civil and criminal penalties for violation of section 
9 or of regulations issued under the ESA.
    The ESA provides for the issuance of permits to authorize 
incidental take during the conduct of activities that may result in the 
take of threatened or endangered wildlife under certain circumstances. 
Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22, 17.23, and 
17.32. Such permits are available for scientific purposes, to enhance 
the propagation or survival of the species, and for incidental take in 
the course of otherwise lawful activities provided that certain 
criteria are met.
    It is our policy, published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34272), to identify, to the maximum extent practicable at the 
time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
likely constitute a violation of section 9 of the ESA. The intent of 
this policy is to increase public awareness of the effects of the 
listing on proposed and ongoing activities within a species' range. 
With the original listing of the Atlantic salmon in 2000, the Services 
published lists of activities that we believed were unlikely and likely 
to result in a violation of section 9 (65 FR 69459; November 17, 2000); 
we find that the activities identified in that listing decision 
continue to apply for the GOM DPS as proposed in this rule.
    The Services believe that, based on the best available information, 
the following actions are unlikely to result in a violation of section 
9:
    (1) Possession of Atlantic salmon acquired lawfully by permit 
issued by the Services pursuant to section 10 of the ESA, or by the 
terms of an incidental take statement in a biological opinion pursuant 
to section 7 of the ESA;
    (2) Federally approved projects that involve activities such as 
silviculture, agriculture, road construction, dam construction and 
operation, discharge of fill material, siting of marine cages for 
aquaculture, hatchery programs, and stream channelization or diversion 
for which consultation under section 7 of the ESA has been completed, 
and when such activity is conducted in accordance with any terms and 
conditions given by the Services in an incidental take statement in a 
biological opinion pursuant to section 7 of the ESA;
    (3) Routine culture and assessment techniques, including the FWS' 
river-specific rehabilitation program at CBNFH; and
    (4) Emergency responses to disease outbreaks.
    Activities that the Services believe could result in violation of 
section 9 prohibitions against ``take'' of the Gulf of Maine DPS of 
anadromous Atlantic salmon include, but are not limited to, the 
following:
    (1) Targeted recreational and commercial fishing, bycatch 
associated with commercial and recreational fisheries, and illegal 
harvest;
    (2) The escapement of reproductively viable non-North American 
strain or non-North American hybrid Atlantic salmon in freshwater 
hatcheries within the DPS range;
    (3) The escapement from marine cages or freshwater hatcheries of 
domesticated salmon such that they are found entering or existing in 
rivers within the DPS range;

[[Page 51433]]

    (4) Failure to adopt and implement fish health practices that 
adequately protect against the introduction and spread of disease;
    (5) Siting and/or operating aquaculture facilities in a manner that 
negatively impacts water quality and/or benthic habitat;
    (6) Discharging (point and non-point sources) or dumping toxic 
chemicals, silt, fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals, oil, organic 
wastes or other pollutants into waters supporting the DPS;
    (7) Blocking migration routes;
    (8) Destruction and/or alteration of the species' habitat (e.g., 
instream dredging, rock removal, channelization, riparian and in-river 
damage due to livestock, discharge of fill material, operation of heavy 
equipment within the stream channel, manipulation of river flow);
    (9) Violations of discharge or water withdrawal permits that are 
protective of the DPS and its habitat;
    (10) Pesticide or herbicide applications in compliance with or in 
violation of label restrictions; and
    (11) Unauthorized collecting or handling of the species (permits to 
conduct these activities are available for purposes of scientific 
research or to enhance the propagation or survival of the DPS).
    Other activities not identified here will be reviewed on a case-by-
case basis to determine if violation of section 9 of the ESA may be 
likely to result from such activities. We do not consider these lists 
to be exhaustive and provide them as information to the public.

Critical Habitat

    Section 4(b)(2) of the ESA requires us to designate critical 
habitat for threatened and endangered species ``on the basis of the 
best scientific data available and after taking into consideration the 
economic impact, the impact on national security, and any other 
relevant impact, of specifying any particular area as critical 
habitat.'' This section grants the Secretary of the Interior or of 
Commerce discretion to exclude an area from critical habitat if he 
determines ``the benefits of such exclusion outweigh the benefits of 
specifying such area as part of the critical habitat.'' The Secretary 
may not exclude areas if exclusion ``will result in the extinction of 
the species.'' In addition, the Secretary may not designate as critical 
habitat any lands or other geographical areas owned or controlled by 
the Department of Defense, or designated for its use, that are subject 
to an integrated natural resources management plan under Section 101 of 
the Sikes Act (16 U.S.C. 670a), if the Secretary determines in writing 
that such a plan provides a benefit to the species for which critical 
habitat is proposed for designation (see section 318(a)(3) of the 
National Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 108-136).
    The ESA defines critical habitat under section 3(5)(A) as: ``(i) 
the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the 
species, at the time it is listed, on which are found those physical or 
biological features (I) essential to the conservation of the species 
and (II) which may require special management considerations or 
protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area 
occupied by the species at the time it is listed, upon a determination 
by the Secretary that such areas are essential for the conservation of 
the species.''
    Once critical habitat is designated, Section 7 of the ESA requires 
Federal agencies to ensure they do not fund, authorize, or carry out 
any actions that will destroy or adversely modify that habitat. This 
requirement is in addition to the other principal section 7 requirement 
that Federal agencies ensure their actions do not jeopardize the 
continued existence of listed species.
    The Services jointly listed the GOM DPS as endangered in 2000 but 
have yet to designate critical habitat. Critical habitat will be 
proposed in a separate rulemaking.

Peer Review

    In December 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued 
a Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review, establishing 
minimum peer review standards, a transparent process for public 
disclosure of peer review planning, and opportunities for public 
participation. The OMB Bulletin, implemented under the Information 
Quality Act (Public Law 106-554), is intended to enhance the quality 
and credibility of the Federal government's scientific information, and 
applies to influential or highly influential scientific information 
disseminated on or after June 16, 2005. We obtained independent peer 
review of the scientific information compiled in the 2006 Status Review 
(Fay et al., 2006) that supports this proposal to designate list the 
GOM DPS of Atlantic salmon as endangered.
    On July 1, 1994, the Services published a policy for peer review of 
scientific data (59 FR 34270). The intent of the peer review policy is 
to ensure that listings are based on the best scientific and commercial 
data available. Prior to a final listing, we will solicit the expert 
opinions of three qualified specialists, concurrent with the public 
comment period. Independent specialists will be selected from the 
academic and scientific community, Federal and state agencies, and the 
private sector.

References

    A complete list of the references used in this proposed rule is 
available upon request (see ADDRESSES).

Classification

National Environmental Policy Act

    Proposed ESA listing decisions are exempt from the requirement to 
prepare an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact 
statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
(NEPA) (NOAA Administrative Order 216-6.03(e)(1); Pacific Legal 
Foundation v. Andrus, 675 F. 2d 825 (6th Cir. 1981)). Thus, we have 
determined that the proposed listing determination for the GOM DPS of 
Atlantic salmon described in this notice is exempt from the 
requirements of NEPA.

Information Quality Act

    The Information Quality Act directed the Office of Management and 
Budget to issue government wide guidelines that ``provide policy and 
procedural guidance to federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the 
quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including 
statistical information) disseminated by federal agencies.'' Under the 
NOAA guidelines, this action is considered a Natural Resource Plan. It 
is a composite of several types of information from a variety of 
sources. Compliance of this document with NOAA guidelines is evaluated 
below.
     Utility: The information disseminated is intended to 
describe a management action and the impacts of that action. The 
information is intended to be useful to state and Federal agencies, 
non-governmental organizations, industry groups and other interested 
parties so they can understand the management action, its effects, and 
its justification
     Integrity: No confidential data were used in the analysis 
of the impacts associated with this document. All information 
considered in this document and used to analyze the proposed action, is 
considered public information.
     Objectivity: The NOAA Information Quality Guidelines 
standards for Natural Resource Plans state that plans be presented in 
an accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased manner. NMFS

[[Page 51434]]

and USFWS strive to draft and present proposed management measures in a 
clear and easily understandable manner with detailed descriptions that 
explain the decision making process and the implications of management 
measures on natural resources in the Gulf of Maine and the public. This 
document was reviewed by a variety of biologists, policy analysts, and 
attorneys from NMFS and USFWS.

Administrative Procedure Act

    The Federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) establishes 
procedural requirements applicable to informal rulemaking by Federal 
agencies. The purpose of the APA is to ensure public access to the 
Federal rulemaking process and to give the public notice and an 
opportunity to comment before the agency promulgates new regulations.

Coastal Zone Management Act

    Section 307(c)(1) of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 
1972 requires that all Federal activities that affect the any land or 
water use or natural resource of the coastal zone be consistent with 
approved state coastal zone management programs to the maximum extent 
practicable. NMFS has determined that this action is consistent to the 
maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of approved 
Coastal Zone Management Programs of Maine. Letters documenting NMFS' 
determination, along with the draft environmental assessment and 
proposed rule, were sent to the coastal zone management program office 
in Maine. A list of the specific state contacts and a copy of the 
letters are available upon request.

Executive Order (E.O.) 13132 Federalism

    E.O. 13132, otherwise known as the Federalism E.O., was signed by 
President Clinton on August 4, 1999, and published in the Federal 
Register on August 10, 1999 (64 FR 43255). This E.O. is intended to 
guide Federal agencies in the formulation and implementation of 
``policies that have federal implications.'' Such policies are 
regulations, legislative comments or proposed legislation, and other 
policy statements or actions that have substantial direct effects on 
the states, on the relationship between the national government and the 
states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government. E.O. 13132 requires Federal agencies to 
have a process to ensure meaningful and timely input by state and local 
officials in the development of regulatory policies that have 
federalism implications. A Federal summary impact statement is also 
required for rules that have federalism implications. Pursuant to E.O. 
13132, the Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental 
Affairs will provide notice of the proposed action and request comments 
from the appropriate official(s) in Maine.

Environmental Justice

    Executive Order 12898 requires that Federal actions address 
environmental justice in decision-making process. In particular, the 
environmental effects of the actions should not have a disproportionate 
effect on minority and low-income communities. The proposed listing 
determination is not expected to have a disproportionate effect on 
minority or low-income communities.

E.O. 12866, Regulatory Flexibility Act, and Paperwork Reduction Act

     As noted in the Conference Report on the 1982 amendments to the 
ESA, economic impacts shall not be considered when assessing the status 
of a species. Therefore, the economic analysis requirements of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act are not applicable to the listing process. 
In addition, this rule is exempt from review under E.O.12866. This 
proposed rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement 
for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

E.O. 13084-Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments

    E.O. 13084 requires that, if we issue a regulation that 
significantly or uniquely affects the communities of Indian tribal 
governments and imposes substantial direct compliance costs on those 
communities, we consult with those governments or the Federal 
government must provide the funds necessary to pay the direct 
compliance costs incurred by the tribal governments. This proposed rule 
does not impose substantial direct compliance costs on the communities 
of Indian tribal governments. Accordingly, the requirements of section 
3(b) of E.O. 13084 do not apply to this proposed rule. Nonetheless, we 
intend to inform potentially affected tribal governments and to solicit 
their input on the proposed rule. We will continue to give careful 
consideration to all written and oral comments received on the proposed 
rule and will continue our coordination and discussions with interested 
tribes as we move forward toward a final rule.

List of Subjects

50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
record keeping requirements, Transportation.

50 CFR Part 224

    Administrative practice and procedure, Endangered and threatened 
species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and record keeping requirements, 
Transportation.

    Dated: August 27, 2008.
James W. Balsiger,
Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries 
Service.

    August 20, 2008.
Kenneth Stansell,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR parts 17 and 224 
are proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99- 625, 100 Stat. 3500, unless otherwise noted.
    2. In Sec.  17.11(h) revise the entry for ``Salmon, Atlantic'', 
which is in alphabetical order under FISHES, to read as follows:


Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
FISHES

[[Page 51435]]



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Species
-------------------------------------------------------       Historic Range         Vertebrate population where        Status            When listed      Critical habitat      Special rules
         Common name               Scientific name                                    endangered or threatened
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                                          * * * * * * *
Salmon, Atlantic, Gulf of      Salmo salar              U.S.A., Canada, Greenland,  U.S.A., ME, Gulf of Maine     E                   ..................  NA                  NA
 Maine                                                   western Europe.             Distinct Population
                                                                                     Segment. Includes all
                                                                                     anadromous Atlantic salmon
                                                                                     whose freshwater range
                                                                                     occurs in the watersheds
                                                                                     from the Androscoggin
                                                                                     northward along the Maine
                                                                                     coast to the Dennys River,
                                                                                     including all associated
                                                                                     conservation hatchery
                                                                                     populations used to
                                                                                     supplement natural
                                                                                     populations; currently,
                                                                                     such populations are
                                                                                     maintained at Green Lake
                                                                                     and Craig Brook National
                                                                                     Fish Hatcheries. Excluded
                                                                                     are those salmon raised in
                                                                                     commercial hatcheries for
                                                                                     aquaculture.
 
                                                                                          * * * * * * *
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 51436]]

PART 224--ENDANGERED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES

    3. The authority citation for part 224 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531-1543 and 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.
    4. Amend the table in Sec.  224.101, by revising the entry for 
``Atlantic salmon'' in the table in Sec.  224.101(a) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  224.101  Enumeration of endangered marine and anadromous species.

* * * * *
    (a) Marine and anadromous fish. * * *

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                     Species\1\                                                     Citation(s) for
-----------------------------------------------------        Where Listed               Listing         Citation(s) for Critical Habitat Designation(s)
         Common name              Scientific name                                   Determination(s)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
                  Gulf of      Salmo salar            U.S.A., ME, Gulf of Maine   65 FR 69469;         NA
                   Maine                               Distinct Population         November 17, 2000
                   Atlantic                            Segment. Includes all       [INSERT FR
                   salmon                              anadromous Atlantic         CITATION WHEN
                                                       salmon whose freshwater     PUBLISHED AS A
                                                       range occurs in the         FINAL RULE]
                                                       watersheds from the
                                                       Androscoggin northward
                                                       along the Maine coast to
                                                       the Dennys River,
                                                       including all associated
                                                       conservation hatchery
                                                       populations used to
                                                       supplement natural
                                                       populations; currently,
                                                       such populations are
                                                       maintained at Green Lake
                                                       and Craig Brook National
                                                       Fish Hatcheries. Excluded
                                                       are those salmon raised
                                                       in commercial hatcheries
                                                       for aquaculture.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
[FR Doc. E8-20412 Filed 8-28-08; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-S