Fisheries group discusses reopening herring runs 7/12/14

Fisheries group discusses reopening herring runs

Middleboro Gazette
Staff Writer
July 12, 2014 12:00 AM

MIDDLEBORO — The Middleboro-Lakeville Herring Fishery Commission is discussing the possibility of one day reopening the town's herring runs to harvest — something that hasn't been done since a statewide ban on blueback and alewive species in 2005 due to a significant decline in the number of fish migrating inland to spawn each year.

The commissioners met at Oliver Mill Park Tuesday night with volunteer observer Mike Bednarski, who happens to be a diadromous fish biologist for the state Division of Marine Fisheries.

"I have some concerns with the fact that only a few of our 78 runs appear to be healthy enough to support harvest," Bednarski said of the situation statewide. "One of the only runs we have that may be able to support harvest is this one right here."

In addition to the fish ladder at Oliver Mill, the town has a herring run at the Wareham Street bridge.

Bednarski indicated there would likely be a preference within his agency for there to be "three of four" herring runs in harvest-worthy condition before opening one.

When speaking to the possible scope of a herring harvest, Bednarski said a conservative approach may serve the commission best.

"If we looked at a count of 550,000 (herring) and the best available information suggests that population could support a sustainable harvest of 100,000, then you guys came to us and said 'we think 7,500 is enough,' that's going to be defendable," he said, noting his comments were on his own behalf, not of his agency's. "That kind of approach will establish a more conservation-oriented outlook on the harvest."

"I'd like to reopen because it's a good tradition but I'd want to do it sustainably and not be the only one in the state," said Commission Chairman David Cavanaugh, who is also a fish warden.

According to Cavanaugh, this year's herring count came in around 591,000 — a little over half of last year's count.

"We're just making presumptions — we can't say exactly why — but it's possible that the cold winter and the late start (of the herring season) affected how many there were," he said after Tuesday night's meeting.

In the years prior to the 2005 ban, the commission issued an average of 600-700 permits to Middleboro and Lakeville residents and an average of 300 to outside residents allowing them to extract up to three dozen herring per week during harvest season.

Though they did not set a date, the commission and Bednarski planned to set up an August meeting between the commission and members of his agency to further discuss the development of plans for a potential future harvest.

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

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