APCC cautiously optimistic about increased herring numbers

APCC cautiously optimistic about increased herring numbers

By Association to Preserve Cape Cod
Wicked Local Cape Cod
Posted Sep 24, 2013 @ 10:04 AM


The Association to Preserve Cape Cod announced this week that the state's just-released estimate of the 2013 herring run at Stony Brook in Brewster topped out at a population of 153,262, making it the best year yet since the volunteer count program began in 2007.

The record high estimate comes three years after the town of Brewster replaced an undersized four-foot diameter culvert under Route 6A with an 18-foot culvert in order to improve tidal flow and fish passage for river herring, American eels and other migratory fish. The enlargement of the culvert has allowed many more herring to migrate upstream at a faster rate.

Herring run size estimates for previous years from 2007 through 2012 were 22,348 (2007), 25,289 (2008), 11,062 (2009), 48,099 (2010), 37,091 (2011), and 41,028 (2012).

Across New England, river herring populations have declined in recent years, prompting the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to ban the catch, sale or possession of river herring in 2005.

"I am cautiously optimistic about the increase in herring at Stony Brook, but it's too early to categorically declare that the higher number is the result of the joint effort to improve stream flow," said Ed DeWitt, executive director of APCC. "There can be other factors, including improved counting procedures or decline in the population of herring predators that account for the increase. It's premature to declare victory or lift the ban."

River herring include alewife and blueback herring, two related species. They are anadromous fish, meaning they breed in freshwater streams and ponds but spend most of their adult lives in the sea. River herring are important in the coastal food web, particularly in the spring.

Herring run estimates, calculated by MarineFisheries, are based on monitoring data collected by local volunteers who conduct fish counts using a method developed by the state agency.

MarineFisheries reports that 33 rivers in Massachusetts are monitored for herring by volunteer groups. On Cape Cod, approximately 14 herring runs are monitored, making the Cape one of the most active areas in the state for volunteer monitoring of herring runs.

At Stony Brook this year, approximately 15 volunteers took part in the counting program, most of whom were participants from previous years. APCC coordinates the Stony Brook monitoring program.

The program is supported by the Massachusetts Bays Program, the Mary-Louise Eddy and Ruth N. Eddy Foundation, Friendship Foundation and dues and donations from APCC members.

More information about the herring run monitoring program is available at or by calling APCC at 508-362-4226.

Read more:

From Forum

Herring Public Forum Exemption to Wetland Act for herring protection
DaveC > 25-July-2016

Herring Run Counts 2015 Herring Counts
DaveC > 25-July-2016

Herring Management Town Brook alewives get a free ride to Billington Sea
KnightofNi > 29-April-2016

Herring Public Forum River Herring Migration Series at WHOI
KnightofNi > 30-April-2015

Eels Fines Increased for Herring Poaching
Jones River > 15-April-2015

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