Harwich Herring Count Program at the Herring River

Spawned by dedicated herring count volunteers, the Harwich Conservation Trust (HCT), Association to Preserve Cape Cod, Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association (CCCHFA), and the Town of Harwich Department of Natural Resources are involved with the second annual comprehensive river herring count program this spring.

Each spring, the river herring return to Massachusetts’ rivers and streams as sure as the sun will rise. The annual spring migration of river herring, alewives and blueback herring, from coastal waters through rivers and streams to their spawning ponds has been a longstanding phenomenon. However, fisheries experts worry that water quality degradation, dams, culverts, and industrial-scale fishing off our shores threatens the very survival of these fish.

River herring are a crucial food source for other fish. They serve an essential ecological function in the energy-dynamics of both marine and freshwater ecosystems, serving to transfer energy from freshwater to the ocean via the food chain when they swim out to sea. While at sea, river herring are prey for many species including shark, tuna, mackerel, cod, haddock, whale, porpoise and dolphin. Largemouth bass, American eel and striped bass consume both adult and juvenile herring in fresh and brackish water.

The Herring River is one of the most significant for spawning Herring in the state. Due to decline, Massachusetts has declared a moratorium on the harvest, possession and sale of river herring in the Commonwealth for through 2011 due to its decline in abundance. Massachusetts’s fisheries scientists have recognized the need for more data on how many river herring are coming back to our ponds to spawn. They developed a protocol for communities to create herring counting programs run by volunteers. With the information that is collected, we can document the relative numbers of herring that migrate up the Herring River and help restore this important species.

Thank You Herring Count Volunteers!

Chris Singer- Project Coordinator
Louise and Dick Armstrong
Luz Arregoces
Valerie Bell
Beth Bierbower
Judy Bliss
Mike Britton
Phil Brothers
Craig Caldwell
Yiorgos Christakis
Tom Crafts
Jack Creighton
Matt Cushing
Cheri Davis
Cynthia Dutoit
Peter DeBakker
Amanda DeOliveira
Tyler DeSimone
Sheila Doherty
Barbara Dowd
Richard Eressy
Kris Etz
Pat Fiorda
Kathy Fogle
John Follas
Terry Gavin
Tom George
Jake Gerdin
Ross Hall
Nancy Hipp
Rich Houston
Anne Hynes
Mary Kane
Raymond Kane
Jackie Leach
Tina and Bill Maloney
Janet and James McCroskery
Bob McNiell
Elaine M. Merklin
Mary Metzger
David Metzler
Emily Mitchell
Laurie Moore
Coco Moran
Katie Mulhull
Ben Murphy
Chuck O’Connor
Janice and Mike Oneil
Tony and Janet Pane
Lou Parker
Rick Peabody
Doris and Tom Philips
Nan Poor
Gustavo Ribeiro
Peggy Rose
Barbara Ross
Jason Santos
Pat Sarantis
Kelly Sattmann
Ron Saulnier
Paul Schlansky
Gerie Schumann
Kathy Sherman
Charlotte and Dick Singer
Dick and Sally Smith
Kirby Smith
Molly Spalt
Peter Spalt
Paul Stankus
Jacquelyn St. Thomas
Evelyn Tobey
Fran and Rick Wallerstein
Patty Watson
Susan Weinstein
Kathleen and Jack Welch
Rick Whitehead
Sharon Whittemore
Matt Witzgall
Ken Whiting