What's up with the salmon restoration at Berkshire Hatchery?
It was an upstream struggle from the start. From 2008 to 2013, Atlantic salmon raised at the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery in New Marlborough were used in the multi-state Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program to reintroduce the migratory fish to its southernmost range.
“We discontinued the project last year because the results were not what we had hoped for,” says Henry Bouchard, manager of the hatchery.
It was a lot to ask of a fish. Once released, the sleek, silvery salmon were to swim to the Connecticut River and out to Long Island Sound, then make their way through the gauntlet of predators and trawler nets up to the waters off Greenland to feed. They were to return to their natal streams in the Connecticut River basin to reproduce—muscling their way up the ladders and lifts lovingly installed in recent years upon the very dams responsible for the salmon’s disappearance in the early 1800s.
Thousands of six-inch-long salmon and many more one-inch-long salmon the Berkshire hatchery raised were released into the Westfield River between 2008 and 2013. Only 120 returned. The hatchery continues to raise salmon for research, and it’s best known for raising trout for monthly fishing derbies and for stocking local streams and lakes. The hatchery is open to the public.