Midcoast Conservancy invites community members to the Sheepscot General Store to learn about the interesting life history and ecological functions provided by alewives, eels, and sea-lamprey. The Sheepscot River supports populations of the federally endangered Atlantic salmon and numerous other species of sea-run fish that require access to both freshwater and the sea to fulfill their life cycles. Building upon successful fish passage projects at Coopers Mills and Head Tide, future projects aim to restore fish passage into Branch Pond, Clary Lake and other parts of the Sheepscot in the coming years as part of a watershed scale restoration collaborative effort undertaken by Midcoast Conservancy, Atlantic Salmon Federation, and The Nature Conservancy with support from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the towns of Alna, Whitefield and China.
“We need the folks who live along the river to reconnect with the seasonal journeys of these amazing creatures and to understand and appreciate how important they are to the overall health of the river for our efforts to succeed” says Shri Verrill, Senior Watershed Restoration Manager with Midcoast Conservancy.
Nate Gray, a scientist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources within the Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat group, will provide insight into some frequently asked questions about alewife, eel, and lamprey, such as “What are the benefits of allowing alewives into a lake? Are there any downsides? And “What’s up with those lamprey and eels?”
Alewives were once abundant throughout Maine, though dams and other human impacts have led to dramatic declines and depletion of many populations, causing them to be listed as a species of concern by the US National Marine Fisheries Service. They are a critical prey for marine ground fish species like cod and haddock, and they also provide crucial commercial lobster bait and food for human consumption.
“We hope that the community members who attend this talk will leave with a better understanding of the ecological contributions that alewives, eel, and lamprey make from the headwaters out into the estuary. We’d like to alleviate concerns and provide the science demonstrating the important role that sea-run fish make to the health of our human and natural communities,” says Gray.
The event will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28 at the Sheepscot General Store. Attendees are invited to come early and get some pizza to enjoy while listening to Gray’s presentation.