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Acidification and anadromous fish of Atlantic estuaries

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The Hudson River Foundation convened a conference to evaluate evidence pertaining to the roles played by acid deposition and stream acidification in the decline of anadromous fish populations along the Atlantic coastal plain. The stimuli for the conference were that (1) some populations of Atlantic salmon, American shad, hickory shad, alewives, blueback herring and striped bass as well as a few species resident in coastal streams (yellow perch and white perch) are in a state of severe decline along portions of the east coast of North America; (2) several of these species have declined more or less simultaneously since about 1970; and (3) severe episodic pH depressions are observed in some streams of the Chesapeake Bay system. For example, the pH of Lyons Creek decreased from 7.0 to 5.9 in 1 hr during a rain event, returning to 7.0 a day later. After discussing several possible mechanisms for these observations, the conferees agreed that a combination of factors including stream and river acidification, toxic metals and organic compounds, eutrophication and overfishing appears to be contributing to the reduction in fish stocks. The essential point resulting from the conference is that the acid deposition hypotheses for stream acidification and declines of anadromous fish populations, a potential mechanism that has received very little attention heretofore, was shown to be viable for these coastal areas. Specific recommendations for research were agreed upon by the conferees.

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Hendrey, G.R. Acidification and anadromous fish of Atlantic estuaries. Water Air Soil Pollut 35, 1–6 (1987).

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