EAST MACHIAS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The DownEast Salmon Federation is trying a new method to bring Atlantic salmon populations back to a healthy numbers. It's a popular fish to both eat and catch, but the population in Maine is too low.
"Salmon fishing has been closed here in Maine since 1997," said Jacob Van de Sande, Hatchery Manager and Outreach Education Coordinator at the DownEast Salmon Federation.
Van de Sande's job with the Down East Salmon Federation is to raise salmon populations. He said they use a water pump to help dig a hole that replicates where the salmon would lay their eggs. This new method is called egg planting, and is done on the gravely river floor where Vande place hundreds of salmon eggs.
"Our ultimate goal is to restore to the point where we can have a viable sports fishery," he said, an avid fisherman himself.
Even if this method works, he said it will take a long time before salmon fishing opens up again in Maine. But the specialists at the Salmon Federation believe it's worth the work and the wait.
"It's something I really want to share with my son and my daughter, but it also means that we have maintained and restored this natural ecosystem that has supported these fish for thousands of years," said Van de Sande.
"It would mean more than anything in the world to be able to actually go out in these rivers that we put so much time and effort into and be able to fish for a salmon," says Kyle Winslow, Hatchery Technician at the DownEast Salmon Federation.
The end goal is for the salmon to thrive and survive without help from the DownEast Salmon Federation. They said it will essentially put them out of a job, but they aren't complaining.
"I'd be more than happy to sit on the river bank and fish for atlantic salmon," said Winslow.
The specialists at the DownEast Salmon Federation planted between three hundred and five hundred thousand salmon eggs in three different rivers earlier this month. The eggs won't hatch until early May.