DEEP announces extension of alewife, herring ban

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection last week announced that the prohibition on the taking of alewives and blueback herring from most inland and marine waters in Connecticut has been extended for another year.

This action was initially taken in April 2002, and has been extended each successive year because there has been no improvement in population size during the past year. The prohibition is now extended through March 31.

“Despite the conservation efforts taken by this agency and others over the past decade, the runs of river herring in Connecticut are still diminished,” DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen said in a news release.  “The best available data from this past year indicates that the closure of these fisheries must therefore remain in place.”

During the past year, the New England Fisheries Management Council adopted new rules for commercial fishermen in the ocean to minimize river herring by-catch in the Atlantic herring fishery off the coast of northeastern states. A ruling by the National Marine Fisheries Service on whether to list both species of river herring under the federal Endangered Species Act was expected in 2012 but has now been delayed until 2013.

Non-migratory alewife populations are established in several lakes and ponds in Connecticut.  The DEEP prohibition does not include landlocked alewives from Amos Lake, Ball Pond, Beach Pond, Candlewood Lake, Crystal Lake, Highland Lake, Lake Quassapaug, Lake Quonnipaug, Rogers Lake, Squantz Pond, Uncas Pond, and Lake Waramaug.  Alewives in these lakes may still be taken by angling and scoop net as established in state statute and regulation. DEEP is continuing efforts to enhance river herring stocks by transplanting adult herring from streams with healthy runs into streams where runs have been eliminated or greatly depleted, removing obsolete dams and building fishways that allow fish to migrate past remaining dams.  New fishways at the Hallville Dam on Poquetanuck Brook in Preston, the StanChem Dam on the Mattabesset River in Berlin, and the recent removal of the Rutan Dam on Anguilla Brook in Stonington as of April 1 of this year will open over 57 additional miles of habitat for river herring in the state, DEEP said.

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