Saco Salmon Restoration Alliance & Hatchery

P.O. Box 115, Saco, ME 04072


We are a publicly funded all-volunteer non-profit organization.

Despite the obstacles of COVID-19 and the Nashua, New Hampshire, hatchery closing last year, our volunteers have continued to contribute between 2000 and 3000 hours yearly to keep our salmon hatchery in operation.


The year in review:


January 2020 

  • 49 wild Atlantic salmon broodstock weighing between 5 & 6 pounds were released into the Saco River at an undisclosed location.


February 2020

  • February 1, 2020, two teams were sent out to area streams with Redd-O-Matics and planted 12,000 eyed-up wild Atlantic salmon eggs. 

  • A team planted 12,000 more eggs February 8th.   This was the last egg planting event for 2020.

  • An aquarium, like the Fish Friends program equipment, was set up in the basement of the hatchery to hold all the remaining salmon eggs.  This aquarium saved $300 in February and $600 a month in electricity costs in March and April.


March 2020

  • We continue to maintain the broodstock at the hatchery.


April 2020

  • No tours or open houses are scheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • We continue to hold our broodstock, Parr caught through electrofishing/e-fishing (by stunning them with a portable device that gives an electric shock) and about 850 salmon Fry in the aquarium. 

  • Because of COVID-19 school shutdowns and limited or no access to the aquariums in the schools, the Fish Friends program participants elected to return their fry to the hatchery.  The Fish Friends fry have been added to the fry in the hatchery to be raised all together.  Stocking fry has not been an option for this year.


May 2020

  • The 850 salmon Fry that were in the aquarium were transferred to a trough in the nursery area of the hatchery where they can be easily cared for.  They are growing rapidly!   Note:  The final count of the transferred fry was about 800.




June 2020

  • The new larger hatchery generator and larger propane tank were installed on June 10th and 11th and are in working order. 


  • On June 24, 2020, with the help of 14 volunteers, 56 wild Atlantic salmon broodstock were netted and moved from the hatchery basement tanks to the UNE Marine Science Center (MSC) tanks that were on a trailer attached to a UNE MSC pickup truck.  Aurora Burgess made sure that the fish were moved safely to the UNE MSC.  Only UNE MSC personnel are allowed into the UNE MSC facility at this time.  Aurora has reported that the fish were recovering nicely from the short trip and adjusting to their new environment and beginning to feed.


July 2020

  • Aurora Burgess, manager of the UNE hatchery, reported that there are 55 healthy broodstock at the UNE MSC.

  • Fry were moved from the trough in the nursery area to two troughs in the trough room to give them more room to swim.


August 2020

  • We continue to maintain the fry hatched early in the year at the hatchery.

  • The parr in tank 6 are growing rapidly and becoming smolts.


September 2020

  • We continue to maintain the fry and smolts.

  • A local fisherman caught an 18” Atlantic salmon off East Point in Biddeford Pool, releasing it immediately afterwards.  This may have been one of our salmon that migrated to the ocean and is returning to the Saco River.

  • The 68 3-year-old salmon smolts of tanks 6 and 8 were successfully moved to tank 4, to make room for incoming fish from an e-fishing event, held to recapture salmon released into the Saco two years prior that are now parr.

  • September 29, 2020, the e-fishing event was held and 154 parr were caught and brought to the hatchery.  These were put in tank 6.

  • The 55 healthy UNE broodstock were still in good condition.  All received passive integrated transponder/PIT tags acting as pet ID tags, and all were weighed and fully measured.

  • Hatchery equipment upgrades continue.


October – November 2020

  • We continue to maintain the Smolts, Parr and fry.

  • Hatchery equipment upgrades continuing.


December 2020

  • We continue to maintain the Smolts, Parr and fry in the hatchery.

  • Hatchery equipment upgrades continue.   A new filter was installed to filter tank 2 water which filters water for the incubation trays used for egg development.

  • Aurora Burgess with her students and staff spawned a total of 9 female broodstock and some males yielding approximately 15,000 fertilized wild Atlantic salmon green eggs and delivered them to the salmon hatchery for incubation.  The next spawning will take place on 1/5/21.

It is thanks to the Board of Directors and dedicated volunteers that we have been able to accomplish all these tasks. If we are to continue to progress in our efforts, we will need to rely upon the ongoing support of our members and partners.  Many thanks to all who contributed their energy, expertise, financial support, and volunteer service to our mission.


Prepared by Gina Scott, a Senior at UNE and a hatchery volunteer, October 2020.          Edited by Garry Kasten, Treasurer