The Fisheries, Fishermen, and Fishing Communities class at COA is busy churning out educational and engaging blog posts all about their adventures. The latest? “Never Smelt So Good: The 16th Annual Smelt Fry and Fisheries Celebration” regales readers about the delicious smelt fry hosted by the Downeast Salmon Federation in Columbia Falls, Maine.
The 16th Annual Smelt Fry and Fisheries Celebration was quite a success in raising awareness for important fish species like smelt and Atlantic salmon that need river systems, and the event brought together members of the Downeast Maine community, whose support for Maine fish is vital to their continued survival. Community events like the smelt fry are important to bring people from various backgrounds together to work towards a collective vision to keep local fisheries healthy for all, while having a great time! Want to help in the recovery of smelt or Atlantic salmon in Maine? This website has some good ideas and you can visit DSF’s site to find out how to help out with their programs.
COA students from the Fisheries, Fishermen, and Fishing Community class conversing with attendees of the Smelt Fry in Columbia Falls. Photo Credit: C.J. Pellegrini
The Fisheries, Fishermen, and Fishing Communities class at COA, co-taught by Chris Petersen and Natalie Springuel, worked with the Somes Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary to clean out and rebuild sections of the fish passages in Somesville in anticipation of this year’s alewife run. They learned some area history, some neat things about diadromous fishes, and got their feet wet (literally!) engaging with the community:
It allowed us to hopefully make a tangible impact on a species in our region and to interact with people who put an incredible amount of work into the preservation of this environment for the future. We were able to engage with our community in a way that truly felt important and useful. By literally jumping into the work on the creeks, we were able to engage with the past, present, and future of the Somes Pond alewife run, and that was truly a rewarding experience.
Read about their adventures here!
Middle Fish Passageway – Photo Credit – Billy Helprin
The Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) is looking for people with an interest in recreational smelt fishing, natural history buffs and/or citizen scientists, to help collect data on the health of the sea-run smelt population, and help identify smelt habitat, in Downeast Maine. This project extends all the way from Stonington to the St. Croix, so we are inviting people anywhere in that region to participate in monitoring streams near where they live. Recreational smelt anglers can provide information on the health of this fishery by making a few simple observations while out smelting.
There are hundreds of smelt streams in our area, and any one person would find it impossible to check all of them for spawning smelts. That is why we are reaching out the community to help collect as much information as we can, so we can stay up to date on the health of our Downeast smelt population.
A decline in sea-run smelt numbers the past couple of years pushed the Department of Marine Resources to implement an emergency closure to the fishery in 2014, and resulted in changes to regulations on recreational smelt harvests this year. It is important to collect information on our local smelt populations to ensure they are healthy, and to keep regulations appropriate for this region. Visit the Maine Department of Marine Resources website for more information on sea-run smelt fishing regulations at www.maine.gov/dmr/smelt.
The Downeast Salmon Federation is a community-based, non-profit fisheries conservation organization focused on maintaining sea-run fish, improving and protecting habitat, and securing public access to streams and rivers. Therefore, if you have a favorite smelt stream, and are interested in participating in our smelt stream surveys, or supporting us in other ways, please contact us at our hatchery facilities in East Machias (255-0676) or Columbia Falls (483-4336) or via e mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will also be offering informative trainings for interested smelt survey participants. Please use the contact information above to find a training nearest you.
Harvesting alewives on Flanders Stream. Photo credit: Gary Edwards
Two local streams, Flanders Stream in Sullivan and the Somes Brook drainage that includes Long Pond and Somes Pond on MDI, have been the focus of local restoration efforts over the past several years. Newly released Maine DMR reports from volunteer counts for both rivers in 2014 showed migrating alewives similar to 2013, which was a banner year on MDI and a strong initial year after a restoration on Flanders Stream. For this report I wanted to focus on the Flanders Stream work and subsequent report written by Claire Enterline of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. We will update work on the Somesville fish run in a future report, although you can see the document written by Ms. Enterline here.
In what could have sweeping effects through the elver industry, the DMR has proposed regulations that would require elver dealers to use a swipe-card reporting system, and to maintain records of all elver transactions. This regulation would allow the DMR to keep better tabs on the number of elvers caught in Maine, and would also make it more difficult to sell or purchase poached elvers.
You can read the full proposal here on the DMR website.
Frenchman Bay Partners is working closely with both the Department of Marine Resources and the Maine Inland Fish and Wildlife Service to develop fish-run restoration projects that will have the highest impact. In the last year, the groups set up monitoring on Flanders stream and examined Jones Stream as a possible next site for restoration in the bay.
Before Frenchman Bay Partners ever got started, individual partners were doing stream restoration to enhance diadromous fish populations. Sullivan resident Gary Edwards, who is now a Frenchman Bay Partner, spearheaded the Flanders Stream Alewife Restoration project, which involved opening a culvert and installing fish ladder in the stream. The project was completed this year and alewives could be seen moving up the stream in good numbers. Volunteers monitored the run, with more monitoring expected this year.
FBP draws inspiration from the success of the Somes-Meynell Sanctuary’s alewife restoration work. Alewife numbers continue to increase in the Long Pond-Somes Pond watershed, with more than 37,000 fish moving upstream this year, an increase from a few hundred fish to current levels in less than ten years. This model for stream restoration shows the type of restoration possible for small coastal streams with good connections to lakes and ponds. Some FBP partners helped with the monitoring and maintenance of this constantly improving fish run. Congratulations to the Somes-Meynell Sanctuary for leading this excellent project.