A return rate of 2 or 3% on smolts can support self sustaining populations. Even in the best rivers in Canada I'm pretty sure that return rates don't exceed 5%. The best rivers are huge watersheds (ex: Miramichi) that can produce millions of smolts per
year resulting in returns of tens of thousands of adult salmon. The power companies would like you to believe that getting adult fish upstream to the spawning grounds is the problem that needs to be solved. Don't be fooled. Most of the mortality of smo
lts is on downstream passage and in the ocean. A sizable percentage of mortality occurs during migration out to sea due to dams which disorient fish then chew them up in turbines. It is much easier (and less expensive to power companies) to move adult f
ish over dams than it is to provide safe downstream passage for smolts. That said, it is completely possible that we could tear down every dam in the CT river watershed and STILL not get sufficiently good returns on smolts to establish self sustaining po
pulations. It may well be that high predation rates, or moratility from warm water discharges etc... not found in more northerly rivers now make the CT watershed inherantly unsuitable for Atlantic salmon. Unfortunately, since most of the dams are'nt goi
ng anywhere, we'll probably never know whether restoration was possible or not.
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