The herring are running and we've had some great news about herring numbers in the Achushnet and Mill rivers due to the recent fish passage projects – see the 'Latest News' section of the website for details. There's also exciting news from our neighboring New England states where some new fish ladders have been built.
There is much we don't know about what has caused the decline of river herring populations – but the effect of dams is quite clear. For example, in 2010 three researchers (Carolyn Hall, Adrian Jordaan, & Michael Frisk) published a paper in the journal Landscape Ecology titled, "The historic influence of dams on diadromous fish habitat with a focus on river herring and hydrologic longitudinal connectivity." They looked at the history of dam construction in Maine and showed that the dams, "...by 1850 had reduced accessible lake area to less than 5% of the virgin 892km² habitat and 20% of virgin stream habitat." I bet the overall story in the other states is similar.
It can take years to get a fish ladder built – the ladder on Poquetanuk Brook, Connecticut had been discussed since the 1970s and the one on the Presumpscot River in Maine since 1996. It is hard and frustrating work to apply for and secure funding from multiple sources, discuss and agree on the appropriate design, coordinate with dam owners, develop plans for operation and maintenance, and then monitor the structure to see if it is working as planned. Thank goodness for all the folks in RI, NH, CT and ME who have advocated for and are implementing these projects.
With monitoring and evaluation each new ladder gives us the opportunity to learn how to build better ones. I look forward to hearing updates on how many fish are passing and I hope that any 'lessons learned' can be applied to projects in Massachusetts. There is still a lot of work to be done!
Hallville Dam in Preston, CT – Poquetanuk Brook, Thames River Watershed
Cumberland Mills Dam in Westbrook, ME - Presumpscot River
Wiswall Dam in Durham, NH - Lamprey River
Abby Franklin - May 13, 2013
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is holding a hearing on Tuesday April 23 from 6-8PM at the Bourne Public Library Meeting Room (19 Sandwich Road) to take public comment on a draft addendum to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for the American Eel.
The 2012 Benchmark Stock Assessment found that the American eel population in U.S. waters is depleted.
The ASMFC is considering a suite of possible management options for glass, yellow, and silver eel commercial fisheries, and a bag limit for recreational fisheries. For the glass eel fishery five options are being considered including status quo, closing the fishery in Maine and South Carolina (the only 2 states that allow harvest of glass eels), and setting a quota. Two other options address the accuracy of catch reporting and the capture of small pigmented eels.
The full document titled, "Draft addendum III to the fishery management plan for American Eel for Public Comment" can be viewed at the ASMFC website. http://www.asmfc.org/
Public comments are being accepted until May 2 and can be made in person at the hearing or sent to the address below.
Senior FMP Coordinator
1050 North Highland Street
Arlington, Virginia 22201
As of March 15, 2013, there is still no word yet from the National Marine Fisheries Service about listing alewife and blueback herring as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The link below takes you to a NMFS page where all the ESA related documents can be found.
Here's the quick background:
On August 5, 2011 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) received a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council to list alewife and blueback herring as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. On November 2, 2011 the NMFS responded to this request and wrote that, "the petition presents substantial scientific information indicating the petitioned action may be warranted". The Federal Register notice also states that, "Within 12 months of the receipt of the petition (August 5, 2011), we will make a finding as to whether listing alewife and/or blueback herring as endangered or threatened is warranted, as required by section 4(b)(3)(B) of the ESA.
NMFS initiated a review of the status of the two species and in June and July of 2012 held three workshops seeking input on stock structure, extinction risk, and climate change. The presentations and audio files from those workshops can all be found on the NMFS river herring page.
If NMFS does determine that listing the species is warranted, they will issue a "proposed rule" and publish it in the Federal Register. Public comment will be sought and hearings will most likely be held. Twelve months after the proposed rule is published a final determination will be published.
The second annual meeting of the River Herring Network was held on October 25, 2012 in Buzzards Bay. Attendance was high with 41 people representing 16 towns, two state agencies (DMF and Division of Fisheries and Wildlife), the federal agency NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, and 8 non-profit organizations. Two representatives of the Massachusetts Bays Program also attended.
Six speakers gave power point presentations on the topics of bycatch of river herring in the Atlantic Herring fishery, the status of the petition to list river herring as endangered, the design and operation of fish ladders, funding opportunities through the NOAA Restoration Center, and an update on the monitoring of the Acushnet River Restoration Project.
The mid day talk focused on the accomplishments of the River Herring Network in 2011 and 2012 and asked members to think about what they would like to see accomplished in future years. The Network has been funded by a grant from the Mass Bays Program but that funding is no longer available. During the breakout session members discussed and agreed that at the very least, the Network should organize and hold an annual meeting. Members also brainstormed ways of funding future activities and several new folks volunteered to become a part of the Planning Committee.
If you have ideas for activities you would like to see happen in 2013, or would like to join the Planning Committee, please send us an email through the "Contact Us" tab on the website.
Start thinking about topics for the 2013 annual meeting!
The powerpoint presentations and notes from the meeting can be viewed at the link below. http://riverherringnetwork.com/about-us/annual-meeting.html
- September 2012 Workshop Addresses ASMFC requirement for sustainable fisheries management plans
- 2nd Annual Meeting of the River Herring Network - Thursday October 25, 2012
- River Herring Bycatch in the Atlantic Herring Fishery will be discussed at the next New England Fishery Management Council meeting on September 26, 2012 in Plymouth
- Late Summer River Herring Network Workshop - September 13
- Have you ever wondered what a herring warden does in the Fall?
- Summary of June 12 Workshop
- Free Bus to Council Meeting June 20th
- HELP THE HERRING RUN
- A Report from the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan Amendment 5 Hearing in Fairhaven
- It's Time to Speak Up for River Herring – Hearings about Bycatch in March
- River Herring Network Secures 2012 Funding
- Our vision