HERRING MONITORING PROGRAM
ANOTHER STRONG YEAR FOR HERRING
The 2016 Herring Monitoring Program ended on June 28th. We observed a record setting 62,562 herring across 81 days and 786 counting slots. The total estimated Mystic River herring run is 448,060 +/- 48,113. This estimate represents another strong migration!
WHAT IS A HERRING?
Herring is a type of fish. The Mystic River Watershed supports two species of herring: Alewife (Alosa psuedoharenous) and Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis). Both species, collectively called river herring, are anadromous. This means they spend most of their lives at sea and return to rivers—like the Mystic—to spawn (lay eggs).
WHY MONITOR RIVER HERRING?
In colonial times and earlier, herring in the Mystic River were extraordinarily abundant. But from the 1900’s until today a much smaller population of river herring is present.
According to the Herring Alliance some river herring runs on the Atlantic Coast have declined by 95% or more over the past 20 years. In 2006 the National Marine Fisheries Service designated river herring as a species of concern. Population decline may be associated with numerous factors including by-catch, habitat loss and degradation, water pollution, poaching, access to spawning habitat, and natural predators.
Prior to renovations in 2011, the DCR Upper Mystic Lake Dam prevented river herring from reaching the Upper Mystic Lake. In the past, a volunteer-run bucket brigade hoisted the fish over the dam. Thanks to the Upper Mystic Lake Dam Rehabilitation project, a new fish ladder allows passage for river herring and the opportunity to monitor herring.
WHAT IS MyRWA DOING?
The Herring Monitoring Program utilizes volunteer efforts to count herring passing through a fish ladder at the DCR Mystic Lakes Dam in Medford. Counting occurs each spring (April - June) following the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA-DMF) protocol. The data collected is used to estimate the total herring run size in the Mystic River and is shared with the MA-DMF to help inform trends across the Commonwealth.
The Program collects valuable data about herring populations as they make their way up the Mystic River to reach their native spawning grounds and provides a rich educational opportunity. We hope that through participation, volunteers will increase their understanding and stewardship of the Mystic River and the watershed.
MyRWA would like to thank the MA-DMF, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Medford Boat Club and of course all the monitors for supporting this program.
HERRING MONITORING PROGRAM RESULTS
2016: 62,562 herring were counted yielding an estimated run size of 448,060 +/- 48,113 herring.
2015: 57,622 herring were counted resulting in an estimated Mystic River herring run of 477,827 +/- 40,674.
2014: 31,063 herring were counted resulting in an estimated 239,059 +/- 37,288 herring run size.
2013: 23,635 herring were counted yielding an estimated run size of 193,125 +/- 24,250 herring.
2012: 21,052 herring were counted by citizen scientists. Using modeling software provided by the MA-DMF, the Mystic River herring run was estimated to be 198,932 +/- 18,062 herring. This was the first year of the Mystic River Herring Monitoring Program.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Volunteer to be a fish monitor! No previous experience or knowledge is required. To find out more about this volunteer opportunity or the project email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MyRWA also monitors American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) passing through the Upper Mystic Lake Dam. Read more about eel monitoring here.
This program would not be possible without the support and collaboration with:
2016 DAILY COUNT
RIVER HERRING OBSERVED FROM 2012 - 2016