“Populations of alewife and blueback herring are in serious decline along the Atlantic coast and face numerous threats. By restoring river herring, we can help protect an entire ecosystem.” (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2013)

Check our Home page or News and Events page for upcoming info to volunteer for HPWA's 2019 Spring river herring count citizen science project.


“In Massachusetts, more than 100 coastal rivers and streams are home to the anadromous [born in fresh water, spends most of its life in the sea and returns to fresh water to spawn] alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback (Alosa aestivalis) herring. Known colloquially as “river herring”, these fishes are ecologically-important because they are forage for many marine and freshwater fish predators such as striped bass (Morone saxatilis), cod (Gadus morhua), and yellow perch (Perca flavescens) as well as birds (Loesch, 1987). In addition, they are a key link in the transfer of nutrients from freshwater to marine systems and vice versa (Mullen et al., 1986). River herring provide recreational and cultural benefits to citizens who value them for food and bait. In recent years, river herring abundance in several runs throughout Massachusetts have declined to historical low levels. The declines prompted the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to establish in 2005 a three-year moratorium on the sale and harvest of river herring throughout [the] state. In addition, the National Marine Fisheries Service has listed blueback herring and alewife as ‘species of concern.’” (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, 2012)

River Herring

Updates: 2014 - 278,134  up 10%

               2015 - 239,169  down 14%

               2016 - 144,963  down 40%

               2017 - 143,424  down  1%

               2018 - 316,618  up 121%

               2019 - 526,929  up 66%