Baby Alewives beginning their fall migration from Assawompsett to Nemasket to Cotuhtikut and on to the sea.

We are not the only ones watching

Our friend the peep knows the value of alewives

So does the great blue heron

 The three stooges know


The osprey knows

The sea gull knows

The bald eagles of Assawompsett know

Because they dine on the seagull which comes to dine on the baby alewives

The bass knows

Do our finny, feathered and furry friends know something about the value of alewives that we have overlooked?

Restoring alewives, blueback herring, American shad and other anadromous fish to our rivers and ponds is not fish restoration, it is ecosystem restoration.

A watershed which has lost its runs of these fish has lost the single largest food source for all species higher on the food chain. It's like the watering hole in the desert, one attracts the other, then another and another.

It's a simple concept, one of the first we are taught, however, it is often overlooked in regard to our anadromous fish runs. Most of our runs have been gone for so long that we have lost connection to them and their value to the ecosystem which they fueled since the last ice age.

Follow the example of Nemasket and Assawompsett

One aspect and important component of Nemasket which is often overshadowed by the spectacle of the spring adult herring run is the down stream migration of juvenile herring in late summer and fall. What contribution do these young fish make to the ecosystem of Nemasket? Itís an interesting question. An often repeated observation by people traveling the Nemasket is its abundance of life. From its headwaters to the Taunton River paddlerís delight in the Eagles, ospreys, great blue herons, green herons, bitterns, night herons and kingfishers to name but a few. River otters, mink, muskrats, raccoons and foxes also surprise the quiet river traveler, both by their tracks in the mud and in person. Fishermen tell stories of the game fish of Assawompsett and Nemasket, how they are bigger than those of other rivers and ponds. This abundance is no accident, consider juvenile alewives for a moment.

About two million adult alewives spawned in the Assawompsett Pond complex in 2002. Assuming half were female, there were approximately one million egg-laying females casting eggs in the ponds. A single adult female alewife lays about one hundred thousand eggs, therefore approximately one hundred billion alewife (100,000,000,000,000.) eggs were cast in the Assawompsett Pond complex in 2002. Thatís a lot of fish eggs. Of the one hundred thousand eggs cast by each female perhaps 1,000 will grow large enough to migrate out of the ponds. Therefore through late summer and fall in the year 2002 approximately one billion two inch long alewives migrated down Nemasket with hopes of reaching the Taunton River and Mount Hope Bay. Three years later in the spring of 2005 only one adult alewife will return to Assawompsett for each one hundred thousand eggs cast. For every one thousand juveniles that set out for Mount Hope Bay from Assawompsett only one adult will return to spawn. What does this mean? It means that Assawompsett is the grocery store and Nemasket is the conveyor belt which delivers this incredible bounty to all the critters that abound in Nemasket and beyond. The impacts of such numbers are just too big to be ignored.

Restoring alewives, blueback herring, American shad and other anadromous fish to our rivers and ponds is not fish restoration, it is ecosystem restoration.







They are counting on us.


More info on anadromous fish in the Taunton River watershed, Ma Division of Marine Fisheries info HERE and HERE


Narragansett Bay HERE

Buzzards Bay HERE

Introduction HERE

Cape Cod HERE

Martha's Vineyard HERE

Nantucket HERE

General recommendations HERE

Introduction HERE

South Coast HERE

General recommendations HERE

Introduction Here

Boston Harbor HERE

North Shore Here

Merrimack HERE

General recommendations HERE