Spring and summer are a crucial time for our fisheries fieldwork. The data collected shows us what is happening in our waters from season to season and year-to-year. The numbers tell us many stories—some positive and some troubling:
River herring—foundational species in freshwater and marine ecosystems—are much more abundant than in decades. Concerted efforts to remove dams and culverts that block passage to upstream spawning grounds have resulted in significant increases in spring migrations in several rivers and streams along the coast. Results on the St. Croix River, the boundary in eastern Maine between the US and Canada, illustrate how far we have come and how much opportunity to expand fish runs remains. Spawning migrations on the St. Croix reached a low point of 900 fish in 2002. The opening of fishways on the mainstem and tributaries—on both sides of the border—has increased the run; 600,000 fish migrated upriver in the spring of 2020. Progress! But to put this in perspective, the potential run in St. Croix watershed, with expanded access to its abundant lakes and ponds, is estimated to be 20 million fish!