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DMR Home > Alewive Volunteers Wanted

Volunteers Wanted for Alewife Monitoring on Maine Streams and Rivers

As spawning runs of alewives start in Maine streams and rivers several organizations working to restore the fish in the state’s watersheds are seeking volunteers to help measure the impact of their efforts.

Volunteer-staffed monitoring projects will take place on the Pemaquid River in Bristol Mills, Flanders Stream in Sullivan, and the Nequasset River in Woolwich.

Alewives are anadromous fish that spend the majority of their life at sea and return to freshwater lakes and ponds each spring to spawn. “The benefits of a strong, well-managed alewife run can’t be overstated,” said Maine Department of Marine Resources Specialist Claire Enterline.

“Alewives feed wildlife like eagles, osprey, mink, otter, seals and also other fish species. They are also a source of bait for lobstermen and can provide economic benefit to local communities that promote alewives as an attraction. Alewives also provide cover for upstream migrating adult salmon that may be preyed on by eagles or osprey, and for young salmon in the estuaries and open ocean that might be captured by seals,” said Enterline. “Alewives tie our ocean, rivers and lakes together, providing vital nutrients and forage needed to make healthy watersheds”.

The Bristol Mills Alewife Restoration Project is looking for volunteers to help monitor alewife passage at the Bristol Mills Dam on the Pemaquid River. Volunteers will count alewives passing up through the top of the fish ladder on the Bristol Mills Dam. Each counting period lasts 30-minutes and volunteers and can sign up for as many or as few counting periods as they wish.

The projected survey period is May 5 - June 15. Volunteers do not need to have any experience with fish biology, just a willingness to count fish from the bank of the river.

Interested parties should contact Slade Moore of the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment by phone at 207-837-3805, or by email at smoore@bioconserve.net, or Claire Enterline at the Maine Department of Marine Resources by phone at 207-350-6124, or by email at claire.enterline@maine.gov.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources is seeking volunteers to monitor alewife passage on Flanders Stream in Sullivan. In 2012, the aging Thorne Road culvert crossing over Flanders Stream was successfully replaced with crossing that has proven to be more resilient to storm flows, less maintenance-prone and capable of boosting the productivity of a commercially harvested alewife run on the stream. Volunteers are needed to perform 30-minute counts three times a day of alewives from May 12 –June 15. Interested parties should contact Claire Enterline by phone at 207-350-6124, or by email at claire.enterline@maine.gov.

The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust is also seeking volunteers to count alewives at the Nequasset Dam in Woolwich. Despite a fish ladder due for repair in the summer of 2014, the Nequasset River is considered one of the top alewife runs in the State. Interested volunteers should visit the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust’s website at http://kennebecestuary.org/2014-fish-count.

For each opportunity, volunteers can sign up at any time in May, and can sign up for as many or as few counting times as they wish.

“Less than 5% of spawning ground for anadromous fish remains accessible in the State of Maine due to barriers such as dams and culverts. Counting the alewives will help researchers understand what the current run size is and how to work towards improving the run in future years,” said Enterline. “Alewives are a keystone species here in Maine and the support of volunteers to help gather this vital data is critical if we want to build on the success of statewide restoration efforts.”