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Bridgewater and West Bridgewater fisheries panels address low herring counts

Bridgewater and West Bridgewater fisheries panels address low herring counts

Enterprise News

By Sandra L. Churchill
enterprise correspondent
Posted Sep 11, 2013 @ 10:02 PM

WEST BRIDGEWATER —

Low herring counts and how to address them were discussed at the bi-town Department of Conservation, Preservation and Recreation quarterly meeting Tuesday.

"Both the Bridgewater and West Bridgewater fisheries committees have joined forces," said Hank Estabrook, chair of the joint committee.

"Our fish counts in Bridgewater were way down this year," said Estabrook. "While Middleboro counts are often 1 (million) to 2 million and Bridgewater's are usually 100,000 herring, this year we only had 7,000 fish," said Estabrook.

Though the reasons for the decline were unknown, West Bridgewater Town Fisheries Committee member James Sniger said a couple projects are in the works to improve the flow of water at both Bridgewater's and West Bridgewater's herring runs.

"We want to make the water go all the way across," Sniger said about the work required at West Bridgewater's Nunkatessett River at War Memorial Park. "Otherwise, the fish focus on one spot and won't find a way to the ladder."

Estabrook said the project will involve the installation of boards on the spillway that will improve herring traffic to and from the fish ladder.

"It should be completed this fall," said Estabrook.

Also to be finished in the fall is a private Bridgewater dam alongside the river.

Estabrook said a circular fish-counting device tracks the herring as they swim through a section in the river channel.

"It's not 100 percent accurate, but it gives us an idea," said Estabrook.

Massachusetts is in its fourth year of a moratorium on fresh-water herring fishing.

Sniger said the fish is useful for pickling and frying, as bait for deep-sea fishing and as an application as garden fertilizer.

"What upsets the fishermen is you can catch ocean herring in nets and not get in trouble, but it's a double standard for rivers," said Estabrook.

In other news, Conservation Agent John Delano said the Conservation Committee received approval from the Board of Selectmen to establish a Facebook page. The group is also trying to establish a conservation land stewardship program, assigning local residents to improve the management of designated sites in town.

Read more: http://www.enterprisenews.com/news/x1343097391/Bridgewater-and-West-Bridgewater-fisheries-panels-address-low-herring-counts#ixzz2em8wBsxj
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