Genetic Diversity Mapping for Restoration of Atlantic Salmon to Tribal Waters
From ITEP Team
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This presentation was delivered as part of the Tribal Lands and Environment Forum: Virtual Gathering in August 2021 by John Wheaton with the Nez Perce Tribe, Sharri Venno with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Jack Paar with the EPA Region 1, Erik Pilgrim with the EPA Office of Research and Development, Michael Stover with the US EPA, Cassandra Schwartz with the US EPA Region 1, Sam St John with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Patricia Saulis with the Maliseet Nations Conservation Council, Kaleb Zelman with the Department of Fisheries & Oceans Canada, and Scott Pavey with Ecological Genomics, University of New Brunswick Saint John.
Maliseet Nation members in northern Maine and New Brunswick, Canada have traditionally engaged in sustenance fishing of Atlantic salmon and other fish species in the Wolastoq (St. John River) as a key part of their diet. However, in recent years, industrial development, decreasing water quality, loss of fish habitat, and obstacles to fish migration pathways have resulted in the elimination of Atlantic salmon in the upper waters of the Meduxnekeag River, a tributary to the Wolastoq, upon which the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians (HMBI) relies for sustenance. This presentation will explore how EPA and HMBI are collaborating with federal and international partners to develop a cloud-based population diversity database of Wolastoq salmon DNA. The proposed database will be used to establish genetic markers and provide key information on natural diversity, including the identification of the Meduxnekeag-specific genetic strain of Atlantic salmon. This genetic information will serve to inform future efforts for future live gene banking, captive rearing, and salmon stocking efforts by HBMI and others.