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Monatiquot River in Braintree may become largest herring run in state 11-21-16

Monatiquot River in Braintree may become largest herring run in state

By Bradford Randall
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Wicked Local Braintree

Carl Pawlowski, of the Fore River Watershed Association, said Braintree's Monatiquot River could become the largest herring run in the state after a dam on the waterway is removed.

"We've done a whole bunch of the steps that needed to be done," Pawlowski said Saturday after a clean-up of the Monatiquot River with the Wampanoags. "We're at the point now where we have enough information that we can go to permitting."

Pawlowski said Armstrong Dam, owned by Messina Enterprises, would be torn down after the permits are issued.

Messina Enterprises has also pledged to fund the work to remove the dam, according to Pawlowski.

"All we need to do is get a permit," Pawlowski said.

The company is interested in removing the dam to reduce maintenance costs and liability, and in hopes of future development.

Pawlowski, an environmental engineer with Mass. Water Resources Authority, said the number of river herring that eventually run up the Monatiquot River will triple the numbers in Weymouth's herring run once the dam is removed.

Weymouth's herring run, which supports over half a million of the aquatic species each year, is considered the largest in the state and begins when the water begins to warm with spring temperatures.

Weymouth Herring Warden George Loring previously said Weymouth's herring run averages about 9,000 fish a day during peak times.

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.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the Monatiquot has been off-limits for river herring, who used to spawn at Great Pond, the river's source.

"The dam was built originally to supply energy to a mill," Pawlowski said. "Eventually, Armstrong Corp. bought it and they were using the water as cooling."

Pawlowski said the Monatiquot River has the potential to support nearly 2 million fish a year, which would have "incredible" results for the Boston Harbor fishery.

"Striped bass, bluefish are huge but the thing people don't think about is lobster," Pawlowski said. "Lobster love herring."

Pawlowski said this past summer, lobstermen in the surrounding area were panicking because they couldn't get herring.

The 12-foot-high dam is located near the intersection of Hancock and Plain streets.

Grants from the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program and matching funds from the town and Messina Enterprises have been used to study the impacts of the dam's removal.

"I think the river herring attract the lobster in shore and that's what they feed on," he said, adding that it would probably be three to four years before the river reaches full potential.

Pawlowski said studies from Maine have shown a 20 percent stronger lobster fishery near herring runs, and said removing the Armstrong Dam could be a key to rejuvenating Boston Harbor.

Wicked Local: Weymouth and The Patriot Ledger contributed to this report.

Follow Bradford Randall on Twitter @BraintreePaper.

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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