July 18, 2013: Yesterday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state of Massachusetts, and the Charles River Watershed Association came together to release young American shad fish into the Charles River. On hand from the Service were Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber, Deputy Assistant Regional Director for Fisheries Bill Archambault and Northeast Supervisory Fish Biologist Joe McKeon of the Eastern New England Fishery Resources Complex.
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“Go forth and propagate!” proclaimed Mary Griffin, commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, as quoted in a Boston Globe article about the stocking event. Griffin and Bob Zimmerman of the Charles River Watershed Association stood in the water shoulder-to-shoulder with Wendi Weber, connected by a large hose they grasped in their hands. The hose delivered baby shad from a North Atlleboro National Fish Hatchery truck to their new home in the Charles River.
Once abundant in rivers such as the Charles, American shad numbers have decreased in the last century due to dams, pollution and overfishing. Improvements in water quality, fish passage and fishing regulations make restoring shad populations possible in the Charles.
The restoration project is a long-term collaborative effort between Massachusetts and the Service’s Eastern New England Fishery Complex. Goals are to return a viable population of shad to the river and create a local sport fishery.
“This project is special because the Charles is such an important river to the people in Boston,” said Weber. “We are pleased to work with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Charles River Watershed Association and others to enhance American shad populations and improve habitat for other migratory fish.”