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MWS Accepted into the Herring Alliance

posted Jan 18, 2014, 8:41 AM by   [ updated Jan 18, 2014, 9:03 AM ]
The Herring Alliance, a coalition working to protect wildlife and ecosystems along the Atlantic Coast, has accepted the Mattawoman Watershed Society as a member organization. Founded by the Pew Environmental Group, the Herring Alliance concentrates on science-based management of forage fish like mackerel, menhaden, Atlantic herring, river herring, and shad.

Often overlooked, such fish are linchpins of the web-of-life that supports marine mammals, shore- and sea-birds, and popular gamefish like striped bass and bluefish. Shad and herring were also once popularly caught all along the Atlantic seaboard during their spring runs for bait and food.

River herring and hickory shad are two marine species that migrate each spring to Mattawoman Creek to spawn. In fact, their numbers are one reason fisheries scientists have called Mattawoman Maryland's "best, most productive tributary to the Bay." 

After decades of decline, the well being of these animals along the Atlantic seaboard began to plummet in the mid-1970's. However, Mattawoman's populations held their until about 2006, when numbers in the freshwater estuary began to sink as poor land-use decisions caught up with the fish.

The plight of migratory fish comes from a mix of freshwater-habitat loss and degradation, and a large "bycatch" by marine factory trawlers seeking other species. The Herring Alliance will help give voice to Mattawoman's fish in the marine sector.