To many Cape Codders, the annual river herring migration is a sign of Spring—and it is only a few weeks away. The Association to Preserve Cape Cod is once again seeking volunteers to count river herring during this spring’s herring migration.
River herring include alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (A. aestivalis), both listed as Species of Special Concern by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They are important species in the coastal food web and coastal ecosystem. Despite a moratorium that began in 2006 banning their catch, sale and possession, river herring populations still remain perilously low and count data are urgently needed to document their presence.
APCC’s volunteer herring count program began in 2007 with the Stony Brook herring run in Brewster, which was only the fourth herring count program on the Cape at that time. To promote and support citizen herring counts, APCC partnered with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, NOAA’s Restoration Center, Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program, natural resource managers, herring wardens and many organizations and volunteers. As a result, today volunteers count herring along 19 runs in 12 towns— Barnstable, Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, Falmouth, Harwich, Mashpee, Orleans, Sandwich, Wellfleet and Yarmouth.
Volunteer herring counts provide valuable scientific data on herring populations and are used by fisheries managers to manage and protect herring stocks. Herring counts also help to document the need for restoration or improvement of fish runs and the success of restoration projects. Cape Cod has many runs that provide opportunities for volunteers to view the spring herring migration while collecting valuable scientific data.
This year volunteers are needed to count herring along the following runs:
--Red Lily Pond, Barnstable
--Stony Brook, Brewster
--Lover’s Lake and Stillwater Lake, Chatham
--Bound Brook and Scargo Lake, Dennis
--Bridge Pond and Herring Pond, Eastham
--Coonamessett River, Falmouth
--Herring River, Harwich
--Mashpee River, Quashnet River and Santuit Pond, Mashpee
--Pilgrim Lake, Orleans
--Mill Creek, Sandwich
--Herring River, Wellfleet
Volunteers are needed to count several times a week during the period between April 1 and June 1. Counts are done for 10 minutes. Volunteers must be able to safely traverse rough terrain, be able to visually see fish in the stream and provide their own transportation to the counting site.
Individuals interested in counting herring at any of these runs should contact Dr. Jo Ann Muramoto, APCC’s director of science programs, at 508-619-3185 or [email protected]. To learn more about APCC’s herring count program, past run sizes, and a schedule of training events, visit APCC’s website at www.apcc.org/herring.