One of the most amazing natural spectacles is the annual migration of fish up the world’s rivers and streams.
So, in honor of the enormous role that migrating fish play in the lives and diets of people around the globe – and the challenges those fish face – May 24 has been designated as World Fish Migration Day.
There will be events that day throughout the world, and in Maine, events are happening all month.
It’s entirely appropriate that so many activities in honor of this day are happening here in Maine.
Up and down our coast, fish are moving from the Gulf of Maine up into the Penobscot, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Narraguagus, Machias and the list goes on and on; rivers great and small. Aiming for freshwater spawning grounds, the list includes American shad, alewives, blueback herring, striped bass, rainbow smelt, sturgeon and the iconic Atlantic salmon.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Damariscotta Mills fish ladder restoration. This ambitious effort now allows hundreds of thousands of alewives to move up the river. Check out Keith Ellenbogen’s amazing photos.
In Maine, one of North America’s most ambitious river restoration efforts is under way on the Penobscot River, with the removal already of two dams and the planned state-of-the art fish bypass to help restore 1,000 miles of river habitat for sea-run fish. The effort is being led by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust.
As part of World Fish Migration Day, you can take a tour of the Penobscot River restoration on May 22. Click here to learn more and register.
”World Fish Migration Day is a terrific way to draw attention not only to the significant challenges that fish face in reaching their habitats, but also to the many successes we’ve had in restoring their journeys,” said Josh Royte, conservation planner for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “The day and its events throughout the world also point to the many ways that the needs of people and communities are tied to the success of migrating fish. By safeguarding the life cycles of fish, we’re also empowering people and their communities.”
The Nature Conservancy, the International Union of Conservation Nature, Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, World Wildlife Fund, and Wanningen Water Consult & LINKit consult have come together to create greater awareness of the importance of freshwater migratory fish and free flowing rivers.
With the help of more than 150 organizations, celebrations and events have been organized in over 200 places on World Fish Migration Day, starting in New Zealand, and following the sun, finishing as it sets on the West Coast of North America. This international commemorative day will bring global attention for the need to ensure natural river networks remain connected or, where they are fragmented, to restore connections whenever possible, to achieve both healthy fish populations and productive rivers. The theme running throughout all events is “Connecting fish, rivers and people.”
Events in Maine include:
May 1-22: Flat Fish Stanley, a statewide project with Maine school children, who will create a large collage to be presented May 22 at the Maine Discovery Museum.
May 17: East Machias foot race along the Machias and East Machias Rivers at the time Atlantic salmon smolt are migrating out to sea and celebration of alewife harvest with smokehouse and oral history project. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May 22: Penobscot River Restoration Tour, 1 to 3:30 p.m. – Visit the sites of two large dam removals on the Penobscot River at Veazie and Great Works. Learn about and see American eels; visit the new fishway at Blackman Stream, where we might see alewives migrating and end the tour at the Maine Discovery Museum for snacks while we view children’s art from around the state showing what they’ve learned about our migratory fish and their ecosystems. Park at Pickering Square Parking Garage on Water Street in downtown Bangor to meet the bus. This event is being cosponsored with USFWS, NOAA, and the Penobscot River Restoration Trust. Click here to register.
May 24: Damariscotta Mills fish ladder and fish restoration festival with alewife smokehouse and opportunity to watch hundreds, maybe thousands (depending on season) of alewives migrating up tremendous community fish ladder. Also live music, children’s activities and great food. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
May 24: Presumpscot River Restoration tour and celebration. Visit the restoration work planned along the Presumpscot River in and around Westbrook and end the day with happy hour at the Frog and Turtle and movies of alewife migration projected on the side of a nearby building in downtown Westbrook.
May 24: Somesville Fish Passage Project – Tours of historic dam and fish ladder and fish counting and scale sampling research. 10 a.m. to noon.
Aside from The Nature Conservancy, World Fish Migration Day is sponsored by: