An Overview of the Program to Restore Atlantic Salmon and other Diadromous Fishes to the Connecticut River with Notes on the Current Status of these Species in the River

Publication Date



downstream fish passage, fish passage, fishways, restoration, stocking

Journal or Book Title

American Fisheries Society Monograph


A federal and multi-state cooperative program to restore American shad Alosa sapidissima and Atlantic salmon Salmo salar to the Connecticut River basin was begun in 1967 and has evolved to include many other species. The program began in the last years of the Connecticut River Ecological Study, but most of its activities have occurred since the study ended. The Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Commission manages the program. Emphasis has been placed on the provision of fish passage at barrier dams. Early fishways were justified on the basis of existing American shad runs, and later upriver fishways were built to support future salmon runs. Fishways existed at five mainstem dams and eight tributary dams, with facilities for downstream fish passage provided at many additional dams. Salmon restoration has been pursued with stocking of hatchery-reared fry and smolts, catch prohibitions, kelt reconditioning, fish health management, and various genetic management and marking schemes. Annual runs typically have numbered in the hundreds but recently have declined to less than 100 at the same time runs elsewhere through the species' range have also declined. Annual runs of American shad, blueback herring A. aestivalis, and alewife A. pseudoharengus increased but recently experienced declines, for which stock recovery of the striped bass Morone saxatilis is thought to be at least partially responsible. Gizzard shad Dorosoma cepedianum and hickory shad A. mediocris experienced significant range extensions in the Connecticut River basin since the 1990s, and the number of nonspawning striped bass that enter the river annually has increased dramatically during the same time period. Brief reviews of the status in the Connecticut River basin of these anadromous species as well as of the shortnose sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum, Atlantic sturgeon A. oxyrinchus, white perch Morone americana, rainbow smelt Asmerus mordax, sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus, and sea-run brown trout Salmo trutta and the catadromous American eel Anguilla rostrata are provided.





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