Acushnet River Herring Restoration

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According to NOAA Fisheries, the installation of special fishways has resulted in greater numbers of river herring returning to the Acushnet River in Massachusetts.

Since the fishways were installed in 2007, there has been an astounding 1,140% increase in migrating herring able to access prime spawning grounds, according to data collected by the state.

These “nature-like” fishways are stone structures that allow herring to better navigate past two dams on the river. Fish now have much better access to habitat along the Acushnet River, which runs 8.5 miles from the spawning areas of the New Bedford Reservoir into New Bedford Harbor and empties into Buzzards Bay.

Between the 1940s and the 1970s, electrical parts manufacturers discharged wastes containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and toxic metals into the harbor, resulting in high levels of contamination.

NOAA worked with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Department of the Interior to fund the design and construction of Acushnet River fishways.

They are part of a restoration plan developed through  NOAA’s Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program in response to decades of industrial pollution in New Bedford Harbor.

So far, 34 projects have been completed to restore natural resources that were injured or lost due to the contamination.

For the spring of 2013, river herring runs on the cushnet River are expected to reach their peak during the third and fourth weeks of April.

Due to very low numbers, there is currently a moratorium on the take of river herring from Massachusetts waters.

source: NOAA Fisheries