School of Marine Programs signs agreement to support wild Atlantic salmon restoration

The University of New England Arthur P. Girard Marine Science Center will house salmon to support restoration efforts within the Saco River Watershed under an agreement with the Saco Salmon Restoration Alliance & Hatchery (SSRA&H).

“This project provides UNE with a wonderful opportunity to help the local environment, partner with a wonderful organization and provide real world skills to our students,” stated Charles Tilburg, Ph.D., director of UNE’s School of Marine Programs. “I am excited at the possibilities for our students to learn about raising fish, conservation and protection of the environment.”

UNE will provide SSRA&H with expertise and student interns and volunteers to assist in their restoration efforts. Those efforts include year-round activities related to the raising of salmon, stocking wild Atlantic salmon in local habitats, maintaining adult salmon housed at the MSC and compiling and organizing data.

“The SSRA&H is pleased to be a collaborative partner with the University of New England,” said Dan LeBlond, vice president of SSRA@H and hatchery manager. “This alliance expands our efforts to educate the public, improve habitat and create the conditions that will lead to the restoration of Atlantic salmon to the Saco River watershed.”

Aurora Burgess, assistant marine scientist in the School of Marine Programs and assistant lecturer in the Department of Biology, will oversee UNE’s part of the agreement.

“As the newest member of the UNE MSC team, I am excited to begin the work ahead,” Burgess said. “I’m impressed with the amount of enthusiasm and devotion that all members of our team, both within UNE and the SSRA&H, have for this project. Students are already approaching me asking how and when they can get involved.”

Funds to support the partnership stem from an agreement between SSRA&H and Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC (BWPH). BWPH established a Saco River Salmon Enhancement fund to support salmon restoration within the Saco River Watershed and surrounding tributaries until permanent upstream passage measures for anadromous species are provided and operational.

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