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Scientists meet in Pembroke, say herring making a comeback locally - 10-25-15

ENVIRONMENT: Scientists meet in Pembroke, say herring making a comeback locally

Environmental groups and fishery commissions from across the state got some positive news last week during the annual meeting of the Massachusetts River Herring Network held at the Pembroke Public Library.

By Mark Burridge
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P
embroke Mariner & Express

Posted Oct. 25, 2015 at 10:33 AM

Environmental groups and fishery commissions from across the state got some positive news last week during the annual meeting of the Massachusetts River Herring Network held at the Pembroke Public Library.
In his presentation, John Sheppard, a fisheries biologist said the state's fisheries are doing better than in years past.
"There's an upward trend," he said. "In the north part of the state, counts mostly went up this year, and overall there are moderate recovery rates."
Sheppard was referring to the number of herring in the streams across the eastern part of Massachusetts. Over the last several decades the number has dropped at an alarming rate, but more recently fish have begun to return to some areas, including Pembroke.
The annual meeting was developed so communities could share information, discuss techniques tried to bring the herring back. Samantha Woods, executive director of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association said the meetings have been helpful to environmental groups.
"A lot of experienced people have a wealth of information for the scientists," she said. "The scientists provide things the other people may not have known."
The River Herring Network meeting is held at different locations each year. Abigail Archer, a marine resource specialist for Barnstable County organized this year's event, which allows attendees speak with their counterparts from different areas of the state and exchange information.
"We do an evaluation every year where we ask people what they want to be done differently," she said. "They always ask for more question and answer periods and more time to talk between presentations."
Before the meetings began being held five years ago, Archer said every town and organization operated individually. They didn't share ideas and techniques. Between the presentations, the different viewpoints, and the individual meeting time, Woods and Archer agreed the level of information provided is at an all time high.
"We haven't had this much data before," Archer said. "Now we've got all these volunteer programs, we haven't had that much data to work with before."
Archer said the groups are trying anything they can to try to restore the herring populations.
"I think we're frightened," she said. "That's part of what we're doing here."
At last year's meeting, Selectman Bill Boulter recommended Pembroke as this year's meeting spot
"I thought it was a good idea to bring all the information to the town," he said. "A lot of people originally came to Pembroke for the fish, 'Mattakeesett' means 'land of the fish.'"
Boulter said he and other volunteers in town, along with representatives from the department of marine fisheries trudged through the herring run during the spring clearing areas of debris so large, he wasn't sure how the fish were getting through.
"The areas were so thick," he said. "It's a lot of hard work to keep up with all of that."
Boulter, who lives along the path the herring take through town said this year has been better for the herring and he saw hundreds swim by.
"This is the first year I've seen that," he said. "They couldn't get through before."

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