Name of River

  Herring River

Name of Warden

  Heinz Proft

Governing Body

Name of Count Organizer

  Matt Cannon

Name of Watershed Group

  Hawich Conservation Trust

Contact Phone Number


Email contact

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Status of Run

Harwich's Herring River originates in three headwater ponds: 716-acre Long Pond, 171-acre Hinckleys Pond, and 181-acre Seymour's Pond. From these ponds, the river flows south ~7 miles into Nantucket Sound. Together with downstream impoundments, these ponds provide 1,119 acres of alewife spawning habitat, making the Herring River one of the largest herring runs on the Cape in terms of spawning habitat.

There are three obstructions along the Herring River: the West Reservoir Dam, the Hinckleys Pond Control Structure, and the Long Pond Outlet Structure. All three are fitted with concrete and wood weir-pool fish ladders. The deteriorating steel fish ladder at the West Reservoir Dam was replaced with a new concrete ladder in 2004.

Population estimate: Based on visual counts, the estimated size of the 2011 Herring River run is 10,466 ± ~1,162, less than the 2009 run size estimate of 19,336 ± 1935 and the 2010 run size estimate of 41,254 ± 4966. The Herring River provides 1,119 acres of river herring spawning habitat.

Current Project

Restoration of Herring River

The lead group working to improve and maintain the Herring River herring run is the Harwich Conservation Trust. Through its Priority Ponds Project, the Trust strives to preserve land adjacent to Harwich's many ponds in order to protect pond water quality and wildlife habitat, leading to improved spawning habitat for the herring run in Long Pond, Seymour's Pond and Hinckleys Pond. Thus far, the organization has preserved 66 acres with 5,508 feet of shoreline across seven ponds, along with 959 feet of frontage along two portions of the herring run.

According to a 2004 Division of Marine Fisheries report on Massachusetts' river herring runs (Nelson et al. 2011), the main problem facing this run is the prevalence of low water conditions that can prevent juvenile herring from swimming downstream. To address this problem, the Natural Resources Conservation Service's 2006 Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project "Final Watershed Plan and Areawide Environmental Impact Statement" recommended extending the existing channel retention structure approximately 30 more feet into Long Pond in order to prevent sand deposition and shoaling.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Harwich Conservation Trust has been coordinating volunteer fish counts on the Herring River at the Hinckleys Pond outflow since 2009, in collaboration with the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (which provided training), the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association and the Town of Harwich Department of Natural Resources. Eighty-three volunteers have taken part in the Harwich Herring River fish count since 2009.  For more information on the count program, contact Harwich Conservation Trust Outreach and Stewardship Coordinator Ryan Mann

Watch the herring count video!



 Harwich Herring River Report 2011

Date Last Updated

  March 30, 2015