NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 15, 2014

Volunteers needed to count alewives

NEWBURY — The alewives will soon return to the Parker River to spawn. Local citizens are gearing up to participate in the annual effort to assess the health of the alewife fish population.

More volunteers are needed to participate in the fish count, which is organized locally by the Parker River Clean Water Association (PRCWA).

“This is a tremendous opportunity for families to watch fish navigate the ladders, enjoy the outdoors and help protect local resources.” said PRCWA board member Rob Stevenson, who is organizing the count, which runs six weeks from April to May.

Although the count is held in Byfield at Central Street, many citizens from around the area have signed into time slots to count the alewife passage. The Annual Alewife Count needs more volunteers to fill in the time slots for the weekend sessions. No experience is necessary.

A training session will be provided prior to your initial alewife count time. Each volunteer signs up for a daily 10-minute time slot for Saturday and/or Sunday. Amy Madden is the Central Street coordinator.

The Parker River alewives run mostly in the afternoon between 1 and 7 p.m.

Last year, the PRCWA Annual Alewife Count was very exciting as Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries conducted three specialized scientific studies on the migration of the alewives as they attempted to migrate from the entrance of the Parker River at Plum Island Sound through the Central Street dam on the Parker River to their spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the Parker River in Georgetown.

At the PRCWA annual meeting, guest diadromous fish biologist Ben Gahagan compared the data obtained by the DMF electronic counters with the data gathered by the volunteers participating in the PRCWA alewife count. The comparison shows the PRCWA volunteers documented accurately the four peaks in the 2013 fish run. The DMF data also show a peak of run activity in late afternoon and early evening and that the fish run at all times of day.

This past year’s DMF improvement to the fish weir located under the Central Street culvert and the redirect of the entrance of the Central Street dam’s fish ladder should yield an exciting herring run for 2014.

Contact Madden or Stevenson at parker.river@verizon.net or call 978-462-2551 to volunteer.

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