Herring update in Orleans 5-23-15

Herring update in Orleans

Staff photo by Doreen Leggett. A volunteer fills out the herring log.

Doreen Leggett

Wicked Local Chatham
Posted May. 23, 2015 at 6:00 AM

On an overcast and chilly Monday – with the stream low because the tide was out – no alewives made the trek past the counting station into Pilgrim Lake. Almost a century ago – in 1920 – a report by the state Division of Fisheries and Game Department said that if the fish were managed properly by the town, Pilgrim Lake – then called Sparrow Pond – could produce as much as 400 barrels of herring.
But even then the number of alewives were declining rapidly, the state report - provided by perennial herring counter Judy Scanlon, said the valuable herring were facing a number of threats. Back then the numbers weren't as low as they are today, and harvesting was still allowed. The fish – that could jump as high as two and a half feet up the ladders to reach the ponds to spawn – were used for everything, even jewelry.
"Rumor is current that the iridescent coloring material of the scales is utilized in the manufacture of artificial pearls. Be that as it may, the firm of Petro & Finkelstein, at Hyannis, purchased quantities of scales during 1919 and 1920, and Mr. F. O. Proctor of Gloucester was carrying on an extensive business at Onset in 1920. The white lower scales only are taken and sell at 50 to 60 cents per pound, or higher, while the sealers receive a minimum of 10 cents per pound. At Herring River, Harwich, twelve to fifteen women were engaged in the process of scaling the fish on May 11, 1920. It is estimated that 3 to 4 pounds of scales may be obtained from 1 barrel of alewives. The high value of the scales is shown by the great increase in the sale price of the Agawam River fishery, which rose from $1,255 in 1919 to $11,000 in 1920," the state report read.
Another herring fact from John Hay's book "The Run," although again, one can't do this today because they are protected:
"I have heard that one acre set with a thousand fish would produce three times as much corn than an acre without them. It is a practice we inherit from the Indians, although the Indian Agriculturist was likely to be plagued with wolves instead of cats."

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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