Thursday, September 28, 2006

After a Seven-Year Ban, Salmon Fishing Returns to Maine

For the first time since 1999 salmon fishing has reopened but it took nearly two weeks after opening day for the first salmon to be caught! Salmon season was closed in 1999 due the rapid decrease in the population and the threat of distinction. According to Patrick Keliher who is the executive director of the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission, "Pollution from paper mills, blasting by logging companies, and dams that impede salmon migration helped slice the Penobscot salmon population to 530 in 2000, from nearly 5,000 20 years ago.” Today around 1,000 salmon currently make their home in the Penobscot River but an Environmental Coalition has raised $25 million to buy three dams from a power company, tear down two of them and build a fish bypass around the third. This is in hopes of restoring the once large population of salmon and also bringing back the millions of tourists and their money to Maine. The reopening of salmon season has looked to be a positive so far; people from all over the United States are flying in to fish the rivers for these world renowned fish.

Although the season has reopened there are still many restrictions which will be monitored very carefully. People so far have been generally willing to deal with these restrictions in hopes that some day soon the population of salmon will flourish as it was many years ago. People in Maine feel very strongly about fishing for salmon, they believe it is a part of their history. It has been a tradition since most can remember that the first salmon caught each year is given to the president of the United States. Mr. Joel Bader, head of the bass-fishing club in Bangor stated, “I was last here when fishing ended, and I’m here today.” “It’s amazing, really part of history. It’s what every fisherman strives to achieve — catching Atlantic salmon. It’s what I want to achieve, especially on the Penobscot River.”

When the government closed the salmon fishing season many tourists stopped coming to Maine which resulted in a decrease in the economy. Was saving the salmon worth a decreased economy for seven years? Did the government make the right choice? In my opinion this was best for both Maine’s economy and fishermen. Although it may have hurt them for seven years, I believe it will benefit them in the long run. Salmon fishing is very popular and in high demand, so if they would have never closed the season, the fish would have died off, but by closing the season they have been able to restore the population, which will hopefully someday increase Maine’s economy.

1 comment:

TaylorKaram said...

So many economic decisions are based only on the immediate outcomes and benefits (marginal analysis), but it is wiser for a business to take a look at the long-term effects- especially when dealing with the environment. Even excluding the obvious profits from tourism, it may be beneficial to preserve the salmon population. Since many resources and habitats are irreplaceable, they shouldn't have a dollar amount slapped on them. How much is clean air worth, or unpolluted water? How important is the salmon to Maine's ecosystem? Perhaps the Maine salmon eat insects or invertebrates that would otherwise be pests to farmers, which would need to be sprayed. Too often, things such as this aren't discovered until it's too late. Unfortunately, the idea of destroying something now, in the name of instant gratification is one of the downfalls of our market system.