Jon Greenwood, (603) 271-2501
Dan Lynch, (603) 271-3511
Jane Vachon, (603) 271-3211
October 17, 2006
Anadromous Fish Program Has New Stocking Truck, Thanks to Joint Effort
CONCORD, N.H. -- A new stocking truck that will serve as a "fish shuttle" for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Anadromous Fish Program will be unveiled on Wednesday, October 18, 2006, at 1:15 p.m. in front of the Fish and Game headquarters building at 11 Hazen Drive in Concord. Anadromous fish are sea-running fish, such as Atlantic salmon, herring and shad, which swim up rivers to spawn in fresh water.
The truck was purchased in part with $15,000 in funds donated by the New Hampshire Trout Unlimited Council and local Trout Unlimited Chapters (Basil Woods, Ammonoosuc, Merrimack River Valley, Great Bay, Pemigewasset, Squan-A-Tissit and Monadnock), the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Coastal Conservation Association of New Hampshire and many individual donors. These donations were added to $45,000 in matching funds (a 3-1 match) from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, achieving the total of $60,000 needed to purchase the truck. The project was further aided by a generous discount provided by Yankee Trucks of Concord.
The new truck will support three major anadromous fish restoration programs in the state -- the Merrimack River restoration, the Connecticut River restoration and the Marine Division's coastal program. The new truck replaces a vehicle, more than 20 years old, that was no longer operational and beyond repairs. The specially designed truck is equipped with two 1,000-gallon round tanks, as these fish need to constantly swim while being transported. Fish and Game was able to install the platform bed and tanks from the old anadromous fish restoration truck onto the new truck and chassis.
"We are grateful to the dedicated anglers who have donated generously to provide a new truck to keep anadromous fish restoration going," said Jon Greenwood, Coordinator of Fish and Game's Anadromous Fish Program. "The support of these individuals and partner organizations like Trout Unlimited, the Coastal Conservation Association and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is a testament to our commitment to working together to bring these noble native fish back to New Hampshire waters."
A N.H. Fish and Game Department truck was originally used in 1979 to transfer pre-spawn American shad from the Massachusetts Holyoke Fishway on the Connecticut River to the Merrimack River as part of the restoration process. Upon the completion of the Essex Fishway at Lawrence (Mass.) in 1982, the program began transporting fish from that facility. The Merrimack River shad restoration effort has been successful, with the number of shad returning to the Lawrence fishway steadily increased from several thousand in the early 1980s to a high of 72,000 fish in 2000. Recently, the shad runs have declined, in part because of two years of spring floods. Another challenge is upstream fishway passage; unfortunately, only about 10 percent of the shad that pass Lawrence move upriver past the Lowell (Mass.) Fishway.
Lowell is the last barrier to shad being able to migrate upriver into miles of spawning habitat in New Hampshire waters. Until the problem with passage at the Lowell Fishway can be resolved, transporting pre-spawn shad by truck is one of the few options for moving fish upriver to expand the population. Surveys indicate that the habitat above Lowell in the Merrimack River basin in New Hampshire could support a run of one million shad annually. N.H. Fish and Game's objective is to transport shad to the Manchester and Hooksett areas, and above the Garvins Falls Dam, and develop a strong run of shad in the river. A shad fishery in New Hampshire similar to those in the Connecticut and Hudson river fisheries would enhance fishing opportunities, increase license sales and benefit the local economy, at the same time it restores a native fish.
The Coastal Anadromous Fish Restoration Program will benefit from the new truck, because coastal marine rivers are also under restoration for American shad. In this effort, as with the Merrimack, the pre-spawn adult shad are transported from the Lawrence fishway and stocked in the Exeter River. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement, as the coastal marine river herring runs provide a stock of pre-spawn herring adults that are trucked for stocking in the Merrimack River for restoration purposes.
Fish and Game also uses the anadromous fish truck to transport hundreds of large brood stock Atlantic salmon for release in the Merrimack Basin each spring and fall, creating the only managed salmon fishery in New England. These fish are captured and 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, they are released into the Merrimack, providing anglers with an exciting recreational opportunity. The brood stock salmon program is paid for through permit fees paid by anglers.
The Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program began in 1969 as a cooperative effort of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Forest Service. In addition to Atlantic salmon -- a native fish that was absent from the Merrimack River for a hundred years -- the restoration program includes American shad and river herring, both of which are again returning to the Merrimack to spawn.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.
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