Herring, Eels Found Dead Below Ellsworth, ME, Dam

Dead American eel and juvenile herring found below the Ellsworth dam on the Union River.

A recent underwater and shoreline survey conducted just downstream of Brookfield Renewable’s Ellsworth Dam on the Union River in Ellsworth, Maine, by the Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) has revealed hundreds of dead juvenile river herring and American eel.

“This is at least the sixth consecutive fish-migration season during which the DSF has documented fish kills caused by Brookfield’s Ellsworth dam operations, despite repeated promises by Brookfield that they have ‘solved the problem’ with interim measures and despite DSF repeatedly asking officials at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the State of Maine to take enforcement action to stop this killing,” the DSF wrote in a recent statement.

On September 24, after observing dead juvenile river herring along the western shore of the Union River just below Brookfield’s Ellsworth Dam, DSF biologist Brett Ciccotelli used an underwater camera to document an abundance of dead herring and a number of dead American eel littering the riverbed. All of the fish and eels showed obvious signs of turbine entrainment.

A few hours after recording the underwater footage, Ciccotelli observed hundreds of young river herring spilling over the 69-foot-high face of the dam and striking exposed rocks and ledges below, and either floating dead or disoriented downstream of the dam.

“Between this fish kill and the massive, on-going mussel die-offs Brookfield is causing on Graham Lake and was reported by the Friends of Graham Lake earlier this week, this river is in trouble and has been for some time,” said DSF Executive Director Dwayne Shaw. “We need solutions from this multi-billion-dollar corporation that [will] restore this river and make it a healthy part of our region—both for fish and people.”

To watch a video recorded by DSF biologist Brett Ciccotelli, click here: