In Plymouth, celebrating herring’s return and dam’s removal 4-22-15

In Plymouth, celebrating herring's return and dam's removal

Patriot Ledger
Frank Mand

Posted Apr. 22, 2015 at 1:21 AM
PLYMOUTH – More than 150,000 guests are expected at this weekend's celebration on Town Brook, but parking won't be an issue.

That's because these guests will arrive by water, stay in the water, and then quickly swim upstream to their ancestral spawning grounds.
It's the second annual Herring Run Festival, a partnership of the Plimoth Grist Mill, the town and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in recognition of the annual return of the herring and the removal of the Plymco Dam.
When the Pilgrims arrived nearly 400 years ago, they found what would become known as Town Brook teeming with an estimated 1 million river herring. Over the next 200 years one dam after another was erected on the brook, harnessing its water to power mills that ground corn, planed wood and forged iron.
By the 20th century Town Brook's herring run was down to a trickle, with most of the fish unable to reach their spawning grounds in the waters in and around Billington Sea. And, over the years, the dams like many in the state, began to deteriorate, putting lives and property at risk.
At the same time, ocean-side communities like Plymouth saw the dwindling herring and alewife populations affect their fishing industry.
In the late 1990s, Plymouth began the permitting process and in 2002 became the first town in the state to remove a dam, thereby improving the free flow of the brook.
NOAA Gulf of Maine Habitation Restoration Coordinator Eric Hutchins said the dam removals have benefited both the herring population and people who live near the brook who are now in less danger from dam failures and flooding.
He said that improving the ability of river herring to navigate Town Brook and reach their spawning grounds could have a ripple effect on the town's fishing industry.
"Plymouth has an active recreational fishing fleet, along with commercial draggers, lobstermen and a significant whale-watching fleet," Hutchins said. "Those three industries on the waterfront have an ecological link to the species the work on Town Brook is helping to restore."
Plymouth's Herring Run Festival will take place over two days, and include walking tours of the brook, live acoustic music, special interpretive talks by Plimoth Plantation staff, plus demonstrations of corn milling, fishnet making and alewife fishing.
Visitors will also be able to help local environmentalists count the herring as they swim upstream and to attend the formal dedication ceremony celebrating the recent removal of the Plymco dam.
For more information visit
Frank Mand may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow him on Twitter @frankmandOCM.

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

river herring blog


Save the Date! March 7 Aquatic Invasive Species Workshop

On Wednesday March 7, 2018 the River Herring Network and Middleboro-Lakeville Fisheries...

2017 Annual Meeting Summary

Thank you to all who made the 2017 River Herring Network annual meeting a success!

Seventy three...

Agenda for 2017 Annual Meeting - November 2

Click to download a pdf of the agenda:2017 RHN Annual Meeting -Revised Agenda

The 7th Annual...

NMFS initiates status review of bluebacks and alewife

Several news stories and radio programs announced yesterday and today that the National Marine...

Two MA dam removal projects are awarded funding from NOAA

Two projects in Massachusetts have been awarded 2017 Community-based Restoration Program Coastal...

More Blog Posts