River herring are back in East Weymouth with impressive numbers 4-26-16

River herring are back in East Weymouth with impressive numbers

Weymouth Herring Warden George Loring said over 31,000 herring made the journey to Whitman's over the wooden fish ladders in Jackson Square Friday.

Wicked Local Weymouth
By Ed Baker
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Posted Apr 25, 2016 at 6:14 PM
Updated Apr 26, 2016 at 11:23 AM

The annual migration of the river herring to Whitman's Pond is in high gear and expected to last up to six weeks, according to Weymouth Herring Warden George Loring.
"They came back last week," Loring said. "Friday and Saturday were great days."
Loring said over 31,000 herring made the journey to Whitman's over the wooden fish ladders in Jackson Square Friday.
"We will average about 9,000 herring a day," Loring said. "There are days we will have a thousand fish or so but there are days we get up to 31,000 herring."
The river herring, or alewives, migrate from the ocean to Whitman's every spring to mate and lay eggs before returning to the sea a few months later, according to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
The alewives begin their journey northward from the mid-Atlantic off the Carolina coast in late March through mid-May.
"We have had some (herring) runs go into June," Loring said. "A four to six week herring run is a good guess."
Loring said the herring prefer water temperatures between 53 and 60 degrees to make the annual migration to Whitman's.
"If the water temperature warms up, the fish will slow down," Loring said. "If it is too cold they might not come in and the run could be over in two weeks."
Loring said the best vantage point to watch the spectacle is in Jackson Square at the Herring Run Park.
"You can follow the river up to the dam at Whitman's Pond where the herring want to be," Loring said.
Loring said the migration of the alewives should continue to increase through the end of May.
"It may level out for a day or two," Loring said.
Loring said a ban on harvesting or catching river herring remains in effect.
The Division of Marine Fisheries implemented a ban on harvesting river herring in 2006 because of concerns about a decline in the species along the East Coast.
Individuals who violate the ban can be fined $50 under state law.
"If you see anyone with a net near the run they are with the Division of Marine Fisheries or they are poachers," Loring said.
Loring said Division of Marine Fisheries inspectors periodically take herring samples from channel to evaluate the health of the fish stock.
"The biggest herring they got last week measured 14-and-a-half inches," Loring said. "The average is about 12 inches. I used to measure them, the biggest one I measured was 13 inches."
Loring said the herring migration path is considerably long and it is a challenge for the alewives to proceed over a 117 step wooden ladder to reach Whitman's.
"They have to go 72 feet," Loring said. "Only the strongest can do it."
Loring said visitors who enjoy watching the annual alewives migration can also appreciate a variety of birds along the herring run, which extends down to the Back River.
"There are cormorants, seagulls, king fishers, black crowned night heron, osprey great blue heron, geese, ducks and a bald eagle has been spotted a few times this spring," Loring said.

From Forum

Herring Public Forum Exemption to Wetland Act for herring protection
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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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