CONTACT:
Jon Greenwood, Fish and Game: (603) 271-1743
Kathleen Desmarais, Dept. of Health and Human Services: (603) 271-4957
Jane Vachon, Fish and Game: (603) 271-3211
May 28, 2004

Hatchery-raised Atlantic Salmon to Be Stocked
Safe for Adults to Eat Small Amounts of Brood-stock Salmon

CONCORD, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department have agreed that the brood-stock Atlantic salmon raised at the Nashua National Fish Hatchery may be stocked. Based on new consumption guidelines from DHHS, it is recommended that New Hampshire anglers limit the amount of brood-stock salmon they eat.

Brood-stock Atlantic salmon, raised at the federal hatchery in Nashua as part of the Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program, will be released for recreational fish stocking. "New Hampshire's Atlantic salmon fishery is the only one of its kind in the United States," said Jon Greenwood, coordinator of the program for N.H. Fish and Game. "We encourage anglers to gently release any brood-stock salmon they catch back into the water so that as many anglers as possible can experience this unique fishery."

The Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program, created in 1993 by N.H. Fish and Game in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is working to restore migratory fish populations to the State. The brood-stock Atlantic salmon raised at the Nashua federal hatchery are kept to produce offspring, or "fry," more than a million of which are released each spring in an effort to restore sea-running fish to the Merrimack River basin. After spawning at the hatchery, the large salmon are normally released in the Merrimack watershed in early spring.

In response to an article in the January 9, 2004 issue of the journal Science, which documented the presence of PCBs and dioxins in farm-raised salmon that are fed the same diet as the salmon in the federal hatchery in Nashua, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stopped providing salmon to states in February pending testing of the fish and a thorough review of the situation, according to officials there. Based on the results of the testing, DHHS has determined that brood-stock Atlantic salmon raised at the Nashua federal hatchery are safe for limited consumption by adults age 16 years and older. A limit of one-half meal per month -- four ounces -- is advised for adults. Children ages 15 years and younger should not consume brood-stock Atlantic salmon. These new consumption guidelines for the brood-stock salmon will serve as extra incentive for anglers to practice catch-and-release.

According to Fish and Game's Greenwood, the delay caused by the testing means that most of the salmon shall be stocked later in the year. "We missed most of the springtime opportunity to stock the salmon into the Merrimack and lower Pemigewasset Rivers, which is typically done in April and May," he said. Fish and Game personnel expect to be able to stock a small number of the salmon during the first week of June. Waters have warmed to such an extent that those fish are expected to quickly begin making their migration downstream to the Atlantic Ocean, so they will not be available for recreational fishing locally for long. N.H. Fish and Game had planned to release about 1,100 Atlantic salmon this spring, ranging in size from 3.5-pound 2-year-olds to 16-pound 5-year-olds. An additional 400 fish were scheduled to be stocked this fall.

Instead, Greenwood says, the remaining salmon scheduled for release in 2004 will be stocked in fall, when the river waters begin to cool off, making a total of 1,500 for the year. "That will be a fishing bonanza," said Greenwood. "It's too bad for brood-stock anglers to lose the chance this spring, but the fall season should provide some incredible fishing opportunities."

Other species were also tested for contaminants, but New Hampshire only receives brood-stock Atlantic salmon from the federal hatchery in Nashua.

Anglers are reminded that freshwater fish other than salmon in New Hampshire waters also carry consumption limits, especially for children and pregnant or nursing women. Click here for the State's current freshwater fish consumption guidelines.

Fish and Game's programs for restoring anadromous fish, managing and researching fisheries and teaching people about aquatic resources are made possible by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program, funded through purchases of fishing equipment and motorboat fuels.

DHHS Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health develops advisories and recommendations on a wide range of toxins and hazardous materials in order to reduce the risk to State residents from these substances and improve the public's health. For further information: www.dhhs.nh.gov.

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