River Herring

River herring (alewife, blueback herring) are fish which live as adults in the ocean and return to their home rivers and streams to spawn. The thousands of dams that still block our New England rivers–with hundreds here in Rhode Island–prevent herring from migrating upstream to their historical spawning grounds. Over the years, fish ladders and other structures have been built on or around some of these dams to assist the fish in getting by these obstacles. However, these structures are not always very effective in aiding the fish on their trip upstream. People concerned about these fish, which are critical to the aquatic food web, have been assisting the fish through “fish lifts”–where people net the fish below a dam and lift them over the dam to continue their journey upstream. For more information, please visit the webpage of the River Herring Collective at riverherringcollective.org.

Blueback herring (Photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service)
River herring viewed underwater.
Fish trapped below a culvert in Peace Dale, RI.
Herring trapped below a dam in Peace Dale, RI.
River herring trapped below the Palisades Mill in Peace Dale, RI
A helpful human lifting fish over the Main St. dam in Wakefield, RI.
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