WESLEY – Students from Wesley Elementary and Washington Academy got hands-on experience Wednesday stocking fish from the Downeast Salmon Federation into the East Machias river to bring back Atlantic salmon.
“We are releasing baby salmon into the river,” said junior Taylor Bridges from Washington Academy.
The purpose of this lesson is to work on salmon conservation and restore the ecosystem to try and put the fish back into the environment.
They’ve been depleting the past couple decades,” Bridges said.
The Downeast Salmon Federation has been stocking fall parr all year at the Peter Gray Hatchery, which is a nonprofit that brings people together to restore salmon, to eventually let them free in the river.
“This spot is actually a recent habitat restoration spot where we took out undersized culverts, which will help the streams health,” said Hatcher manager Zach Sheller.
He said the overall goal is to bring back Atlantic salmon ideally to increase the population allowing people to fish for them once again.
“As humans, we have narrowed rivers we’ve changed how they are and we are personally endangering these species with pollution and changing their ecosystem so we need to give back so they can thrive and prosper again,” said Bridges.
“Salmon are just part of a bigger ecosystem this stream also has river herring it also has brook trout pretty much any species of fish in Maine found in this water, and if you bring back salmon things like this project, fixing the river, it’s only gonna help the other species,” Sheller said.
The students are in a local coastal ecology class and say they choose to take part in this project.
“We’re actually hoping to go to Scotland to do more Atlantic salmon research in April or March,” Bridges said.