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Extending the Protection of Salmon

US - In 1999, a federal proposal to declare the Atlantic salmon in eight Down East rivers an endangered species sparked an outcry and prolonged challenge by the governor, the state's congressional delegation and several Maine industries.

What a difference nine years make, says RedOrbit.

According to the news agency, earlier this month, a proposal to extend the same federal protection to salmon in three much bigger rivers - the Penobscot, the Kennebec and the Androscoggin - got a far different response.

The new listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act could affect powerful businesses, including hydropower dams and paper mills. And there may yet be a battle once the nearly 1,000-page proposal is digested and public hearings are scheduled. But the experience during the last nine years has clearly muted the harsh rhetoric and legal threats.

According to RedOrbit, the first listing proposal, like the new one, was not a big surprise. The state already had been lobbying against it, and then- Gov. Angus King, an independent, quickly criticized it as a threat to the Down East economy.

Top concerns included blueberry farms that relied on the rivers for irrigation and salmon farms, which were deemed a threat because of the hybrid strains of salmon swimming in, and sometimes escaping from, coastal pens.

Ellen Hardy

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