Earlier this year, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) launched the fourth year of the Herring Monitoring Program. Herring is a type of fish that spends most of their lives at sea and return to rivers—like the Mystic—to spawn (lay eggs). As part of this program, trained volunteers count the herring as they pass through the Upper Mystic Lake Dam in Medford.
The data gathered in this program is used to estimate the total herring run size in the Mystic River and is shared with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to help inform trends across the State.
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.
However, in the case of the Mystic, citizen scientists were able to document that an estimated nearly half a million river herring swam through the fish ladder to spawn in 2015 – a 100% increase over the counts in the previous three years.
Please join the Mystic River Watershed Association in celebration of the life rebounding in the Mystic River and join us in 2016 for another herring run, hopefully of even greater size!
Join us for our next committee meeting Tuesday, September 1. Go to www.mysticriver.org to find out more information about this and other Mystic River Watershed Association’s activities.