Maine Anglers, Tribes Square off Over Alewives

Photo: Tom Moffatt/Atlantic Salmon Federation

The Kennebec Journal has a very informative article on the current battle between fishing-camp operators and anglers in northern Maine and conservationists and members of the Passamaquoddy tribe over a recent move to restore the run of alewives on the St. Croix River.

One side says that alewives have never inhabited the upper river, and are considered an invasive species that could destroy existing populations of sport fish such as smallmouth bass and landlocked salmon. The other side counters with evidence that alewives did indeed migrate to the upper St. Croix, and that there is no evidence to support the theory that the herring would compete for food and habitat with the trout and bass.

Here’s an excerpt:

It’s late in the alewives’ spring run, and overnight just five fish have climbed the fish ladder at the Milltown Dam, which spans the St. Croix River on the Maine-New Brunswick border.

At the top of the ladder, which climbs around the back of the 131-year old dam, the fish are waiting in a cagelike trap when Lee Sochasky arrives to count and release them. One 10-inch female – fish No. 36,168 of the season – is kept for scientific analysis. Big, healthy and filled with eggs, she is probably 5 years old, meaning she hatched in the straight stretch of river between here and the Woodland Dam, 10 miles upstream. In the intervening years she probably has traveled to Georges Bank and possibly as far south as North Carolina. This spring she — and 36,000 other alewives — headed home to the St. Croix to reproduce.

If the fish’s advocates have their way, in future years she might be part of spring runs numbering in the millions.

Read more:

Kennebec Journal

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