1. Mission

2. Interaction with Towns

3. Fishway Permit

4. Fishway Operation and Maintenance Plans (coming soon)

5. Contacts



Chapter 130 of Massachusetts General Laws delegates the management of diadromous fish in coastal waters to the Division of Marine Fisheries. This authority extends to inlands waters for river herring and striped bass. For other diadromous fish, the management in inland waters is the responsibility of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. In addition to Chapter 130, specific regulations of the Division of Marine Fisheries direct fisheries harvest and protect habitats of diadromous fish. Together these statutes and regulations provide broad authority for the Division to manage fisheries, protect populations and habitat, provide fish passage and propagate fish runs. The overall goal of the Division is to sustain and restore populations of sea-run fish in Massachusetts and allow these natural resources to benefit the Commonwealth through reasonable harvest and ecological contributions.

Interaction with Towns

Historically, sea-run fish were managed by Towns in Massachusetts. This practiced was modified in the 19th century as the State legislature intervened to prevent unsustainable private harvests of public resources in State-held waterways. This approach was codified by Chapter 130 laws in the 20th century and continues today. Chapter 130 encourages the Division of Marine Fisheries to work with Towns to establish local control of harvest and maintenance of fish passage. This statute-directed cooperation is a central feature to modern management of sea-run fish in Massachusetts. With over 150 fish runs in Massachusetts this partnership between MarineFisheries and local stewardship is not only practical but essential.

The following Chapter 130 sections are highlighted as the principal statutes that direct the management of diadromous fish in Massachusetts:

Chapter 130; Section 17 – This statute describes the regulation and management of marine fisheries resources including the manner of taking fish, possession limits, legal size limits and seasons and hours in which fish may be taken.

Chapter 130; Section 19 – This statute focuses on providing passage for salt water fish into fresh water; the operation and maintenance of fishways as well as refusal or neglect to repair or construct fishways.

Chapter 130; Section 93 – This statute addresses the opening of ditches or canals for fisheries propagation of herring, alewives and other food fish; the acquisition of land and waters; and the regulation and leasing of fisheries.

Chapter 130; Section 94 – This statue describes the regulation and lease of river herring fisheries to cities and towns that petition for control and regulation.

Chapter 130; Section 95 – This statute concerns the taking fish from fisheries or the obstruction of passage of any herring without permission from the regulatory authority.

Chapter 130; Section 96 – This statute explains the impairment of private property rights; contracts; and leasing of alewife fisheries at public auction.

Contact Information

Brad Chase
Diadromous Fisheries Restoration and Management
508-990-2860 x118
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John Sheppard
Diadromous Fisheries Biology and Monitoring
508-990-2860 x109
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Information about the River Herring Moratorium