The prohibition on the taking of two types of fish — alewives and blueback herring — from most inland and marine waters in Connecticut has been extended for another year.
The action was initially implemented in April 2002, and has been extended each successive year because there has been no improvement in population size during the past year.
The new directive by Robert Klee, state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) commissioner, extends the prohibition through March 31, 2016.
According to DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen, “Despite the conservation efforts taken by this agency and others over the past decade, the runs of river herring in Connecticut are still diminished.”
Numbers are way down
River herring is a term used collectively to refer to alewife and blueback herring. Both species are anadromous, which means they hatch in freshwater, migrate to the ocean to grow, then return to freshwater to spawn.
Historically, millions of river herring returned to Connecticut’s rivers and streams each year. More than 630,000 blueback herring were passed over the Holyoke (Mass.) Dam on the Connecticut River in 1985. By 2006, only 21 passed the Holyoke Dam, the lowest number in the history of the Holyoke Fishlift.
Numbers have fluctuated since that time but have never surpassed 1,000. In 2014 the number of fish passed was 648.
Important food for other wildlife
While river herring are not typically consumed by humans, they are important food to many species of freshwater and marine gamefish, as well as ospreys, bald eagles, harbor seals, porpoises, egrets, kingfishers and river otters.
Non-migratory alewife populations are established in several lakes and ponds in Connecticut.
The DEEP prohibition does not include landlocked alewives from Amos Lake, Ball Pond, Beach Pond, Candlewood Lake, Crystal Lake, Highland Lake, Mount Tom Pond, Lake Quassapaug, Lake Quonnipaug, Squantz Pond, Uncas Pond, and Lake Waramaug.
Alewives in these lakes may still be taken by angling and scoop net as established in state statute and regulation.