Fish, rivers and people: Making the connection

An eastern brook trout making its way upstream. Photo credit: USFWS

May 21, 2016 is World Fish Migration Day (WFMD) and you are invited to take part and help make an aquatic connection.  The Service, along with thousands of other organizations around the world, is celebrating this one day global-local event to create awareness of the importance of open waters for migrating fish.

This Atlantic salmon pre-smolt will swim to sea for a few years before trying migrate back up stream to spawn. Photo credit: Peter Steenstra/ USFWS

This Atlantic salmon pre-smolt will swim to sea for a few years before trying to migrate back up stream to spawn. Photo credit: Peter Steenstra/ USFWS

Most people do not actually see fish migrate the way we see birds or other land animals migrate. But in fact, many species of fish migrate thousands of miles every year in order to reach feeding and spawning habitats critical for survival. And this is where “connection” makes all the difference.

The Flock Process Dam Removal project in Norwalk, Connecticut removes the first dam on the Norwalk River, eliminating dam failure risk, allowing fish to move freely between salt and freshwater, facilitating sediment transport and building natural defenses in both upstream and downstream areas of the river to future flooding. Approximately 3.5 miles of stream access are being restored.

The Flock Process Dam in Norwalk, Connecticut was removed to help fish move freely between salt and freshwater.  Approximately 3.5 miles of stream access was restored when this dam was demolished. Photo credit: Lia McLaughlin/USFWS

Historically, waterways from oceans to rivers, streams, ponds and lakes were free flowing migratory routes that fish travelled to feed, nest and spawn. But over time, these aquatic byways became blocked with dams, roads, inefficient culverts and pollution, which hindered the ability of fish to complete their life cycles and caused declines in populations.

Opening up fish passage ways will improve recreational fishing opportunities throughout the country. Photo credit: USFWS

Opening up fish passage ways will improve recreational fishing opportunities throughout the country. Photo credit: USFWS

So what’s the big deal? Why should I be concerned about fish populations?  Migratory fish provide many benefits to people and wildlife: They are a critical food source, they are indicators of the health our waters, they provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and help boost economies around the globe.

A young angler in Massachusetts participates in the Flat Fish Migration activity while at a fishing derby. Photo credit: USFWS

A young angler in Massachusetts participates in the Flat Fish Migration activity while at a fishing derby. Photo credit: USFWS

Bring on World Fish Migration Day (WFMD), and the opportunity for you to support fish conservation in your own backyard.  By working together we can increase awareness, share ideas and make commitments to take action for a better aquatic world for everyone.

Copy of AllDressedUpLeading up to WFMD, check out the useful resources on the websites to learn, help educate others and make a plan for your action. Many organizations throughout the U.S., including here in the Northeast, are planning events leading up to, and the day of WFMD.  Participation is sure to be fun, educational and satisfying.  Together we can make a difference in helping many migratory fish species recover and even thrive!

 

Resources for World Fish Migration Day!

One Comment on “Fish, rivers and people: Making the connection

  1. Pingback: Wednesday Wisdom – Norman Maclean | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

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