Selectmen, Alewives Anonymous discuss herring numbers

By Georgia Sparling | Feb 28, 2017

Mattapoisett — Members of Alewives Anonymous, Inc., a group that monitors herring in the tri-town, reported their 2016 numbers to Mattapoisett Selectmen on Tuesday.

The group released its findings last August. They recorded 18,540 herring on the Mattapoisett River, much less than 2015’s 42,332. Even that figure is small.

Abysmal herring numbers for many years have resulted in a moratorium against fishing them, which continues.

Rochester Herring Inspector David Watling said, “It's illegal to possess them, sell them, catch them, have them.”

the cause of the low numbers is anyone’s guess.

“They can’t really pinpoint or give us a reason,” he said. “It seems like we’re just part of the trend.”

Mattapoisett Selectman Tyler Macallister said it could have something to do with the areas where river herring spawn, which in some “hot spots” overlaps with sea herring territory. Anyone fishing for herring in these areas could catch river herring too, thus reducing the population in local rivers.

“We’re fighting a pretty big uphill battle when it comes to commercialization of the herring,” Macallister said.

The Alewives Anonymous group also said fish counters would be installed in coming weeks as the herring will begin to head upstream soon.

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