Our Last Best Chance to Save Wild Atlantic Salmon from

EXTINCTION

Our Last Best Chance to Save Wild Atlantic Salmon from

EXTINCTION

The Peter Gray Parr Project is our last best chance to prevent the extinction of Wild Atlantic Salmon from the United States

Wild Atlantic salmon populations have consistently declined since the mid-1800’s. They are now in a state beyond crisis. Over the past five years, only 1000 fish have returned to Maine rivers annually, and that’s less than 1% of their average historic runs. In November 2000, Maine wild Atlantic salmon were placed on the Endangered Species List. That listing resulted in some meaningful action like removing dams and improving habitat and water quality, but it’s not enough.

Very little has been successfully accomplished to improve or to augment salmon populations. And that’s what makes funding for the Peter Gray Parr Project critical. Our methods are practically and scientifically proven, and we have one goal: to return wild Atlantic salmon to Maine. Salmon populations deserve to thrive, not just to survive.

Conventional Salmon Restoration Project Methods

  • Begin with an inland hatchery.
  • Raise fish with a limited number of eggs available for each river.
  • Raise fish in light-colored tanks used for general stocking programs like for trout or warmwater species.
  • Perform no conditioning and instead use minimal and consistent current in the tanks.
  • Use an educated guess to determine when the salmon have developed enough to stock. Then, stock fish early in the spring at the unfed fry life stage. A 90% mortality rate is often experienced as fish focus on feeding instead of taking protective cover.
  • Hope for adult salmon to return.

Innovative Peter Gray Parr Project Methods

  • Construct a unique streamside hatchery adjacent to rearing and stocking grounds.
  • Increase egg production in a focused river so as to raise more fish for stocking. Use specially-designed incubation boxes which allow alevin to emerge when they are ready to feed.
  • Utilize black rearing tanks that are species specific and resemble natural river conditions.
  • Condition fish to current by using increasing velocities of unfiltered water diverted from their natal river. As fish mature, progressively increase water velocities to prepare them for life in the river.
  • Stock salmon in the fall as stronger, older parr. Fall water temperatures are cooler than those in the spring, and lowers fish metabolic rates. Fish focus more energy on finding cover than feeding.
  • Monitor stocked parr in the nursery areas of the river utilizing drainage-wide electrofishing surveys. Once transformed into sea-ready smolt, trap a portion of the population to gather final data used in estimating the overall size, age and condition of the outgoing smolt.

Peter Gray Parr Project Partners

Peter Gray

Peter Gray


A Man with a Mission

The Peter Gray Parr Project is named in honor of the man credited with the most significant salmon turnaround in history. Gray’s method began with a flow-through streamside hatchery where he raised Atlantic salmon from egg to parr. Water velocity was increased gradually over time so that when parr were released they were conditioned to current. Stocking happened in the fall at the parr stage, as opposed to the fry stage. Combined with full river restorations, the process closely mirrored Mother Nature.

Peter Gray’s River Tyne results in Northern England were staggering. In the past 25-years the number of returning Atlantic salmon has increased from a few hundred to nearly 13,000 in 2015. The River Tyne continues to receive supplemental stockings and is a voluntary catch-and-release river.

About The Parr Project


Building on Peter Gray’s Successes

The Peter Gray Parr Project began in 2012 on Maine’s East Machias River. The project is based on successful salmon restoration methods used by Peter Gray on the River Tyne. Support and funding has increased egg availability from 81,000 in 2012 to 378,000 in 2017 (up 367%). That increased egg production has had a positive impact on the number of raised fry and parr. In fact, since the project’s inception, 672,000 fall parr have been stocked. Biologists clip the adipose fin of each parr that leaves the Peter Gray Hatchery. These fish are easily identified during future electrofishing sampling and smolt trapping. Stream sampling shows tremendous growth with juvenile salmon densities increasing from 5.3 fish/100m2 in 2013 to 14.9 fish/100m2 in 2016 (181% increase), a drainage-wide density of juvenile salmon not seen in the East Machias River since 1984. The big story is when the parr transform into smolt. As of 2016, smolt populations in the East Machias have more than doubled since the start of the project.

Peter Gray
Peter Gray

A Focus on Genetics


The Wild Atlantic Salmon Life Cycle

The odyssey of the wild Atlantic salmon has intrigued and inspired anglers, biologists, and conservationists for years. Theirs is a remarkable story of survival against many odds, with an ultimate return to their home rivers. The Atlantic salmon is an anadromous fish that typically spends 2-3 years in freshwater before migrating to the ocean as a silvery smolt. After an additional 1-3 years at sea it returns to its natal river to spawn.

Peter Gray

Peter Gray


A Man with a Mission

The Peter Gray Parr Project is named in honor of the man credited with the most significant salmon turnaround in history. Gray’s method began with a flow-through streamside hatchery where he raised Atlantic salmon from egg to parr. Water velocity was increased gradually over time so that when parr were released they were conditioned to current. Stocking happened in the fall at the parr stage, as opposed to the fry stage. Combined with full river restorations, the process closely mirrored Mother Nature.

Peter Gray’s River Tyne results in Northern England were staggering. In the past 25-years the number of returning Atlantic salmon has increased from a few hundred to nearly 13,000 in 2015. The River Tyne continues to receive supplemental stockings and is a voluntary catch-and-release river.

Peter Gray

About The Parr Project


Building on Peter Gray’s Successes

The Peter Gray Parr Project began in 2012 on Maine’s East Machias River. The project is based on successful salmon restoration methods used by Peter Gray on the River Tyne. Support and funding has increased egg availability from 81,000 in 2012 to 378,000 in 2017 (up 367%). That increased egg production has had a positive impact on the number of raised fry and parr. In fact, since the project’s inception, 672,000 fall parr have been stocked. Biologists clip the adipose fin of each parr that leaves the Peter Gray Hatchery. These fish are easily identified during future electrofishing sampling and smolt trapping. Stream sampling shows tremendous growth with juvenile salmon densities increasing from 5.3 fish/100m2 in 2013 to 14.9 fish/100m2 in 2016 (181% increase), a drainage-wide density of juvenile salmon not seen in the East Machias River since 1984. The big story is when the parr transform into smolt. As of 2016, smolt populations in the East Machias have more than doubled since the start of the project.

Peter Gray

A Focus on Genetics


The Wild Atlantic Salmon Life Cycle

The odyssey of the wild Atlantic salmon has intrigued and inspired anglers, biologists, and conservationists for years. Theirs is a remarkable story of survival against many odds, with an ultimate return to their home rivers. The Atlantic salmon is an anadromous fish that typically spends 2-3 years in freshwater before migrating to the ocean as a silvery smolt. After an additional 1-3 years at sea it returns to its natal river to spawn.

Help us Restore Maine's Wild Atlantic Salmon Population


$1 per parr. Restore one or restore thousands. All donations will make a difference!

The goal of the Peter Gray Parr Project is to increase the number of parr raised and stocked to over 2,000,000. At an estimated cost of just over $1 per parr, we must raise 2.2 million dollars to support this restoration. For every dollar donated, contributors will quite literally be putting more parr in the East Machias River and directly impacting the restoration of Maine's wild Atlantic salmon population.

PETER GRAY PARR PROJECT GOAL


Restore over 2,000,000 Wild Atlantic Salmon Parr to the East Machias River.

GOAL TRACKER


Financial progress towards restoring over 2,000,000 Wild Atlantic Salmon Parr into the East Machias River

  • 36%