Alewives make strong return with improved damn technology

Alewives make strong return with improved damn technology

  • Technology
  • May 22, 2022
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  • 5 minutes read


Fishermen and the state’s sustainability efforts show that their careers are back and better than ever.

BENTON, MAINE, Maine – Jim Wotton and his 10-person crew prepare for the day of fishing by zipping hundreds of boxes from the cliff to the jagged rocks beneath the Sebasticook River Dam in Benton, Maine.

“We come here every day at 9 or 10 in the morning, get ready for the day, place our orders … The amount we take is based on what we need for the day,” Wotton said.

Sunday is a range of orders, according to Wotton. He said some of the fish they catch today will go to Canada, while others are heading to Maine’s many coastal communities.

“It provides a valuable resource to the state’s fishermen,” Wotton said.

Talk about alewives.

The fish, like a salmon, returns from the ocean to the lakes and ponds to spawn, but the damn construction has caused a decline in populations.

But now technology like fish lifts is making sure that fish like alevives can return to spawning grounds.

According to Wotton, alewife has many purposes. They are used as spring bait for lobsters, smoked and eaten by locals, and feed the local eagle ecosystem.

“It’s gone up and down, but the state has done a good job managing the resource,” Wotton said.

Part of this management comes with dam technology.

Logan Shepherd with Benton Dam operates the canal so the fish can travel.

“It’s pretty essential,” Shepherd said. “If that weren’t here, the fry wouldn’t be able to rise above the dam.”

Alewife races are estimated to last until June. Wotton said this season is on track to be successful for the industry.

“We always have great years up here, but this year is one of the best. We’re on track to break the record,” Wotton said.

Benton fishermen told NEWS CENTER Maine that if alewives continue to abound, bait prices will go down, which could possibly bring down the local price of lobster.

More news from the Maine News CENTER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries





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