Fifth-graders from the Margaret Chase Smith School in Skowhegan released the Atlantic salmon they have been raising from eggs to fry for the past few months into the Sandy River on Friday.

The students took part in the Fish Friends Program developed by the Atlantic Salmon Federation and administered by the Maine Council of the organization, which is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well being and survival depend.

The students released their fish on a field trip to the Old Hydro Dam in Norridgewock.

According to the Federation’s website, wild Atlantic salmon numbers have decreased by 90 percent in fewer than 300 years. The number of wild Atlantic salmon destined to return to North American rivers fell from 1.8 million in 1973 to an all-time low in 2001 of 418,000. Since 2001, with the help of Greenland Agreement negotiated by ASF and its conservation partners and other measures, numbers have recovered slightly, to about 600,000.

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