Blog entries / Fisheries / Habitat restoration / Partnerships

Joining forces in the Charles River to bring back shad fishery

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.

A man and two women stand in a river with a hose shooting tiny fish into the water

Wendi Weber (center) joins partners Bob Zimmerman and Mary Griffin in releasing shad into the Charles River. Copyright: Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe

Watch video of event!

“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.”

Read  more from the Boston Globe story about the stocking or a press release.

Two fisheries biologist stand next to a portable tank. One is measuring an adult fish while the other notes data on a clipboard.

Adult shad are collected from the Merrimack River and tank spawned in hatcheries for stocking the Charles and other rivers. Credit:USFWS

Adult shad are collected from the Merrimack River and tank spawned in hatcheries for stocking the Charles and other rivers.

Spawning pool for mature American shad at North Attleboro National Fish Hatchery. Fertilized eggs flow through a drain to a control box (upper right) where they are collected. Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

A man sthands next to a tank the size of a hot tub with egg cylinders hanging around it.

Eggs are placed in cylinders hung around tanks. When the shad larvae hatch in about 4 days, they swim into the tanks through chutes at the top of the cylinders. Credit: Catherine J. Hibbard/USFWS

Thousands of tiny fish swim over and around a screen.

Shad larvae are marked with oxytetracycline and released after a few days, for a turnaround time of about a week from egg to release. These young shad were reared at Nashua National Fish Hatchery. Credit: USFWS

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