Challenges for Diadromous Fishes in a Dynamic Global Environment

Antioxidants, Irrigation, and Atlantic Salmon

Joan G. Trial

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874080.ch49

Abstract.—Wild low bush blueberries, advertised as “nature’s #1 antioxidant super fruit,” require about 2.5 cm of water per 0.4 ha each week during late June and all of July when fruit is forming and maturing. To reduce annual variation in production, Maine’s blueberry growers began rapidly expanding the acreage under irrigation in the 1990s. As a result of increased acreage and irrigation, average annual Maine blueberry production increased from 15.8 million kilograms in the 1980s to 32.1 million kilograms in 2006. Endangered Atlantic salmon Salmo salar inhabit the rivers and streams in the watersheds where blueberries are grown. Initially all irrigation water was drawn from surface sources and some withdrawals directly degraded salmon habitat. To address this concern, the Maine State Planning Office coordinated a collaborative planning process that included hydrologists, fisheries biologists, and agricultural scientists from state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and industry, as well as members of the public and industry management. Following this effort, the large growers within Atlantic salmon watersheds shifted irrigation sources to storage impoundments and groundwater. The process also helped moved the blueberry industry to acknowledge fish habitat as a legitimate competing water use, thus potentially setting the stage for their future acceptance of the concept that there are hydrologic and ecological limits on water use in Atlantic salmon watersheds.