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TOWN BROOK: More herring, more striped bass, better economy

PLYMOUTH —

By Frank Mand

Posted Nov 06, 2013 @ 11:50 AM

Another day, another dam, another half million dollars?

The town, and specifically Plymouth's Division of Marine and Environmental  Affairs, has been so successful at marshaling support and raising funds for the  removal of dams and the restoration of historic Town Brook it might be easy to  dismiss the recent announcement of another grant for $525,000.

Far from it.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who have been  actively involved in this project for more than a decade, is providing the  funds.

This particular grant, which raises NOAA's total contribution for all of the  projects completed or still in progress on Town Brook to more than $1.5 million,  will help fund the cost of the removal of both the Plymco and Holmes dams and  habitat restoration work in those areas.

When this latest project is complete, in 2017, the Billington Street Dam,  the Off Billington Street Dam, the Plymco Dam and the Holmes Dam will have been  either removed or completely reconfigured and the landscape between them  radically modified.

So what's the big deal?

There are a variety of reasons for the continued interest in Town Brook from  outside entities such as NOAA. Chief among them may be the restoration of  habitat.

If you travel around New England you'll note that in every coastal community  there is a herring run, or a herring way, or a herring pond. Plymouth is no  exception. Long ago, herring were so plentiful in local waters that the Natives  used them as fertilizer.

Two hundred years ago, all you needed to make a living from fishing was to  set up along the river with a purse seine (a fish net that can be closed like a  purse) or a weir (a net drawn across a stream).

Early 19th century photographs of Plymouth's Town Brook show  endless fish racks set up along the water's edge. But after the rivers were  dammed and dammed again to harness water power for industry, and the waters  offshore began to be visited by trawlers from nations near and far, populations  of river herring plummeted to dangerous levels.

And when river herring and other fish were no longer plentiful, larger fish,  such as tuna and flounder and other ground fish, began to dwindle as well.

There's a direct connection between the health of our streams and small  rivers, and the health of the fishing industry.

Before the decade of work to restore Town Brook began, the number of herring  that entered Town Brook numbered in the tens of thousands and nearly 300 acres  of spawning habitat were inaccessible to river herring.

“Dam removal, fish ways and other restoration efforts provide a key role in  helping us bring back depleted fish stocks,” NOAA Regional Administrator John  Bullard said while announcing a total of more than $6 million in habit  restoration grants this year, including the $525,000 for Plymouth.

“NOAA Fisheries investment in habitat is part of a long-term effort to  rebuild fisheries, much of which have declined from habitat loss, over-fishing  and climate change. Recent successes show that restoring habitat is a way not  only to stop the decline of fish populations, but also to re-grow them to  historic high numbers.

“The removal of these two dams,” the NOAA announcement added, “creates  the potential for restoring a herring run of more than 500,000 fish.”

All of that explains, in part, why the Town Brook restoration project has  been receiving support from a Who’s Who list of national and local, private and  public environmental organizations for more than 10 years.

Along with NOAA, funds and expertise have been provided by the United States  Fish and Wildlife Service, the nonprofit American Rivers, the Massachusetts  Department of Fish and Game, the Massachusetts Division of Ecological  Restoration, the Massachusetts Division of Conservation and Recreation, the  Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the Conservation Law Foundation, the  Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, the Massachusetts Corporate  Wetlands Restoration Partnership and the Sheehan Family Foundation.

Follow Frank Mand on Twitter @frankmandOCM

Another day, another dam, another half million dollars?

The town, and specifically Plymouth’s Division of Marine and Environmental  Affairs, has been so successful at marshaling support and raising funds for the  removal of dams and the restoration of historic Town Brook it might be easy to  dismiss the recent announcement of another grant for $525,000.

Far from it.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who have been  actively involved in this project for more than a decade, is providing the  funds.

This particular grant, which raises NOAA’s total contribution for all of the  projects completed or still in progress on Town Brook to more than $1.5 million,  will help fund the cost of the removal of both the Plymco and Holmes dams and  habitat restoration work in those areas.

When this latest project is complete, in 2017, the Billington Street Dam,  the Off Billington Street Dam, the Plymco Dam and the Holmes Dam will have been  either removed or completely reconfigured and the landscape between them  radically modified.

So what’s the big deal?

There are a variety of reasons for the continued interest in Town Brook from  outside entities such as NOAA. Chief among them may be the restoration of  habitat.

If you travel around New England you’ll note that in every coastal community  there is a herring run, or a herring way, or a herring pond. Plymouth is no  exception. Long ago, herring were so plentiful in local waters that the Natives  used them as fertilizer.

Two hundred years ago, all you needed to make a living from fishing was to  set up along the river with a purse seine (a fish net that can be closed like a  purse) or a weir (a net drawn across a stream).

Early 19th century photographs of Plymouth’s Town Brook show  endless fish racks set up along the water’s edge. But after the rivers were  dammed and dammed again to harness water power for industry, and the waters  offshore began to be visited by trawlers from nations near and far, populations  of river herring plummeted to dangerous levels.

And when river herring and other fish were no longer plentiful, larger fish,  such as tuna and flounder and other ground fish, began to dwindle as well.

There’s a direct connection between the health of our streams and small  rivers, and the health of the fishing industry.

Before the decade of work to restore Town Brook began, the number of herring  that entered Town Brook numbered in the tens of thousands and nearly 300 acres  of spawning habitat were inaccessible to river herring.

“Dam removal, fish ways and other restoration efforts provide a key role in  helping us bring back depleted fish stocks,” NOAA Regional Administrator John  Bullard said while announcing a total of more than $6 million in habit  restoration grants this year, including the $525,000 for Plymouth.

“NOAA Fisheries investment in habitat is part of a long-term effort to  rebuild fisheries, much of which have declined from habitat loss, over-fishing  and climate change. Recent successes show that restoring habitat is a way not  only to stop the decline of fish populations, but also to re-grow them to  historic high numbers.

“The removal of these two dams,” the NOAA announcement added, “creates  the potential for restoring a herring run of more than 500,000 fish.”

All of that explains, in part, why the Town Brook restoration project has  been receiving support from a Who’s Who list of national and local, private and  public environmental organizations for more than 10 years.

Along with NOAA, funds and expertise have been provided by the United States  Fish and Wildlife Service, the nonprofit American Rivers, the Massachusetts  Department of Fish and Game, the Massachusetts Division of Ecological  Restoration, the Massachusetts Division of Conservation and Recreation, the  Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the Conservation Law Foundation, the  Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, the Massachusetts Corporate  Wetlands Restoration Partnership and the Sheehan Family Foundation.

Follow Frank Mand on Twitter @frankmandOCM

Read more: http://www.wickedlocal.com/plymouth/news/x1745252705/TOWN-BROOK-More-herring-more-striped-bass-better-economy#ixzz2jyV3buhk Follow us: @OldColony on Twitter | OldColonyMemorial on Facebook

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KnightofNi > 29-April-2016

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

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