Summary of June 12 Workshop

On June 12 the River Herring Network held its first evening workshop from 5:30-7:00PM at the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center in Buzzards Bay. The intent was to find a time when volunteer wardens who are employed in other fields could attend after their 9-5 workday. Fourteen wardens attended representing eight different towns, along with several MA Division of Marine Fisheries staff members.

Abby Franklin opened the meeting with several announcements including the New England Fisheries Management Council meeting on June 20 in Portland, ME and the three workshops scheduled by NOAA NMFS as part of the data gathering process to evaluate the petition to list river herring as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. More information can be found on these events on the RHN website under "Latest News".

Brad Chase, Aquatic Biologist with the MA DMF began the program with an overview of the laws governing river herring in Massachusetts including MGL Chapter 130 Sections 19, 47, 50, 94, and 95. He also explained the history and process of developing Memorandums of Understanding between the state and towns in the 1940s to manage the harvest of river herring, and the renewal of many MOUs in the 1980s. Several towns in the state with active herring runs are without MOUs. He outlined how the management of river herring has changed from being managed primarily by the towns and state, to now involving the regional organization of fifteen states called the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). ASMFC was established in 1947 and recently updated the Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring in 2009. That plan calls for the creation of sustainable fisheries management plans for states that would like their river herring fisheries open for harvest. Brad offered some thoughts on how this process could affect towns that are interested in opening their fisheries after the state moratorium on harvest expires in 2014, and suggested that a future RHN workshop could focus on this upcoming issue.

David Cavanuagh, Chair of the Middleboro-Lakeville Herring Fishery Committee gave an enlightening talk on the history and operations of the seven member town committee. The volunteer group manages the herring run in the Nemasket River which has its headwaters in the Assawompsett Pond complex and discharges into the Taunton River. River herring in this run travel 23 miles to spawn in the largest natural great ponds in the state. David described some of the challenges of providing passage, issuing permits and controlling harvest, and managing water levels in the ponds that are also used as a water supply for the City of New Bedford. The current committee was formed in 1996 and funding for its management activities has come through the sale of herring permits. Since the moratorium the committee has focused its efforts on a counting program and on educating the public about the town's historic resource.

After an hour and a half of absorbing information you would think people would be ready to go straight home. On the contrary – participants stuck around to ask Brad and David questions, and then all sat down at the table to eat pizza together and continue the conversations.

Stay tuned for news about the next workshop in September and the second annual meeting in October. If you have any ideas for topics please feel free to submit your ideas on the Forum.

Abby Franklin



Free Bus to Council Meeting June 20th

We've all heard people say: "There's plenty of other fish in the sea", but while it may apply to the dating pool, we've found that it doesn't tend to apply to actual fish. Take river herring, the fish whose lifestyle carries them between our rivers and the ocean each year. Less than one percent of newly hatched river herring actually make it to the ocean and once there, the life doesn't get much easier. A fish might fall prey to bass, bluefish, shore birds, or the mouths of the herring industry's midwater trawl nets.


River herring are among the species often taken as bycatch in the sea herring fishery and need to be protected. That protection comes now, in the form of Amendment 5 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan. Amendment 5 will hold the herring industry accountable for the fish they are catching along with their target species, such as river herring and groundfish, and includes measures for 100% observer coverage and river herring hotspot closures.


Amendment 5 is being voted on by the New England Fishery Management Council on June 20th at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, Maine, and the river herring need your support. The CHOIR Coalition is sponsoring a FREE charter bus to anyone who would like to attend the meeting on Wednesday and show their support (meals will be provided).

There are three locations to catch the bus:

Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association office at 1566 Main St. in Chatham at 5 AM

• Burger King Park and Ride at exit 6 on Iyannough Rd at 5:30 AM

• Viking Club at 410 Quincy Ave. in Braintree at 6:30 AM

The bus will depart Portland at 5 PM. If interested, RSVP to reserve your seat by calling Claire at the CCCHFA at (508) 945-2432 x108 as soon as possible.

We hope to see you there!

-Claire Fitz-Gerald

Policy Coordinator, CCCHFA



The River Herring Network invites herring wardens, herring counters, and herring enthusiasts to an evening workshop on

Tuesday, June 12, 5:30-7pm 

at the Bourne Veteran's Memorial Community Center on 239 Main St in Buzzards Bay.

The workshop will begin with Brad Chase from the Division of Marine Fisheries speaking on the state laws that govern the management of river herring. David Cavanaugh, Chair of the Middleborough-Lakeville Fisheries Commission will then speak on the history and activities of the Commission.

Pizza and drinks will be provided.

This is a great opportunity to meet fellow herring wardens and volunteers and compare notes on the 2012 run. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions or to RSVP.





The annual herring migration is a natural wonder. For centuries, people have watched in awe as hundreds of thousands of herring journeyed from the ocean upstream to spawn in freshwater ponds, drawn by some unseen force of nature. Today the once plentiful river herring are being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The dramatic decline in the herring population has us wondering if this is a specter of things to come. Could river herring be the aquatic equivalent of the "canary in a coal mine"?


Barnstable Land Trust (BLT) wants to ensure that the herring have safe passage for the generations to come so we are leading the effort to preserve a strategically important 1.17-acre lot at the headwaters of the Marstons Mills River. It is the last remaining undeveloped parcel along the fishway that leads the herring to their spawning grounds in Middle Pond. All of the river's migrating blueback herring and alewives pass this point, relying on flowing waters of the Marstons Mills River to reach their spawning habitat. Shifting sands at the head of the run often impede the flow of fresh water, so access over this privately owned parcel is critical to the maintenance of the run.

A dirt and gravel drive enters the property and connects to an old woods road. Well-wooded and densely vegetated, this parcel slopes gently down to the Marstons Mills River and on Middle Pond. A well-worn trail on the property connects to five acres of Town-owned open space along the herring run. The scenic views of Middle Pond from the property cannot be overstated.

This parcel has many conservation values. It is up-gradient of seven public wells that provide drinking water to homes in Marstons Mills. It is mapped as a Priority Habitat Area for Rare Species, and is in a Living Waters Critical Supporting Watershed.

The Town Council approved a request for $150,000 from Community Preservation Act Funds. BLT still needs to raise $115,000 by June 30th to purchase the land. Thanks to a community that cares, we're more than halfway there! But we need your help to complete this vital acquisition. Please "Help the Herring Run" by making a donation and spreading the word. Visit to donate online or send a check to BLT, PO Box 224, Cotuit MA 02632; for more information call BLT at 508-771-2585.

~ Jaci Barton, BLT Executive Director