Video: Herring Are Here!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAfAgaa847U

For the angler, there’s no more welcome sign of spring than the arrival of herring in the coastal rivers and streams of New England. In the accompanying video, shot in early April, we visit the Agawam Herring Run in Wareham, Massachusetts, where the herring are making their annual pilgrimage up the Agawam River to their spawning grounds in Mill Pond. After spawning over the sand and gravel bottom of the pond, they drop back into the river and return to the open ocean. A few months later, in late summer and early fall, the juvenile, or young-of-the-year herring also make their way from pond to sea.

Each spring the Agawam River herring make their way from the open ocean to Mill Pond, passing through Buzzards Bay.

The video also features a short interview with Sergeant Matt Bass of the Massachusetts Environmental Police, whose job it is to protect the herring from poachers.

It used to be that anyone could get a net and catch river herring—the collective term for blueback herring and alewives—to use as food or bait, but a precipitous coastwide decline in the numbers of herring returning to their natal waters prompted a region-wide moratorium on the take and possession of these fish (except by Native Americans) in 2006. The moratorium was recently extended to 2012.

This photo, taken prior to the moratorium, shows anglers lining up at the Agawam run to receive their daily allotment of herring.

What caused the sudden decline? The answers are not clear, but many environmental and angling groups point to the midwater-trawl fishery in the Gulf of Maine. While their target species is sea herring, the trawlers sometimes catch river herring as bycatch, which are then dumped at sea or mistakenly landed as sea herring. The nets of the pair trawlers are so huge that it’s possible for them to scoop up an entire year-class of herring from a single coastal river.

Other possible causes for the decline include a natural cyclic phenomenon, a rise in water temperatures (both at sea and in the fish’s freshwater spawning grounds), disease, increased predation, habitat degradation or some combination of factors.
Whatever the reason, river herring need help, and several groups, among them the Herring Alliance, are working hard to re-establish healthy runs of herring in New England.

By the way, if you see someone taking herring illegally in Massachusetts, you can call the Environmental Police dispatch center any time at (800-632-8075).

To watch an informative video on river herring from the Herring Alliance:

Herring Alliance: River Herring – A Fish in Troubled Waters

Share your comments with us below.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAfAgaa847U

For the angler, there’s no more welcome sign of spring than the arrival of herring in the coastal rivers and streams of New England. In the accompanying video, shot in early April, we visit the Agawam Herring Run in Wareham, Massachusetts, where the herring are making their annual pilgrimage up the Agawam River to their spawning grounds in Mill Pond. After spawning over the sand and gravel bottom of the pond, they drop back into the river and return to the open ocean. A few months later, in late summer and early fall, the juvenile, or young-of-the-year herring also make their way from pond to sea.

Each spring the Agawam River herring make their way from the open ocean to Mill Pond, passing through Buzzards Bay.

The video also features a short interview with Sergeant Matt Bass of the Massachusetts Environmental Police, whose job it is to protect the herring from poachers.

It used to be that anyone could get a net and catch river herring—the collective term for blueback herring and alewives—to use as food or bait, but a precipitous coastwide decline in the numbers of herring returning to their natal waters prompted a region-wide moratorium on the take and possession of these fish (except by Native Americans) in 2006. The moratorium was recently extended to 2012.

This photo, taken prior to the moratorium, shows anglers lining up at the Agawam run to receive their daily allotment of herring.

What caused the sudden decline? The answers are not clear, but many environmental and angling groups point to the midwater-trawl fishery in the Gulf of Maine. While their target species is sea herring, the trawlers sometimes catch river herring as bycatch, which are then dumped at sea or mistakenly landed as sea herring. The nets of the pair trawlers are so huge that it’s possible for them to scoop up an entire year-class of herring from a single coastal river.

Other possible causes for the decline include a natural cyclic phenomenon, a rise in water temperatures (both at sea and in the fish’s freshwater spawning grounds), disease, increased predation, habitat degradation or some combination of factors.
Whatever the reason, river herring need help, and several groups, among them the Herring Alliance, are working hard to re-establish healthy runs of herring in New England.

By the way, if you see someone taking herring illegally in Massachusetts, you can call the Environmental Police dispatch center any time at (800-632-8075).

To watch an informative video on river herring from the Herring Alliance:

Herring Alliance: River Herring – A Fish in Troubled Waters

Share your comments with us below.