Advocacy to Restore Alewife Passage to the St. Croix River:
In 1995, the Maine Legislature passed a law that prevented upstream fish passage for alewives at two dams on the St. Croix River, an international boundary water. The closing of the river came at the request of a handful of fishing guides in Washington County who believed that growing numbers of sea-run alewives had caused the collapse of Spednic Lake’s smallmouth bass populations in the 1980’s. There was no scientific evidence to support these claims. Nonetheless, the Legislature moved forward with the closure, over the objections of conservation organizations and fisheries experts on both sides of the border. Since the closing of the fish ways on the St. Croix, the alewife population has crashed, falling from a high of 2.6 million fish in 1987 to only 1,300 returning adults in 2007. Maine Rivers and allies have been advocating to reopen the river for this critical native species.
2/2011 CBC releases documentary: “Alewives: A Border Dispute”
“Alewives or gaspereau are members of the herring family. But some American fish anglers think the alewives are capable of destroying the Maine smallmouth bass industry. The anglers lobbied the government of Maine to create a law blocking the St. Croix River – preventing alewives from spawning.
Problem? The St. Croix isn’t Maine’s river to block. Much of the river is in Canada. Canada consider alewives vital to the whole ecosystem. As do many scientists and conservation groups.”
In the News
Environmentalists Renew Call for Reopening Dam
St Croix Courier, May 18, 2010
Maine Must Let Alewives Swim Free in St. Croix River, Editorial by Clinton B. Townsend
Bangor Daily News, June 19, 2009
Petition to the International Joint Commission
Request to Governor Baldacci from the International Joint Commission
International Joint Commission urges action to restore natural fish migration on St. Croix River
Commission Urges Maine to Open St. Croix River to Sea-run Alewife
Working Waterfront July 22, 2009
Have the Canadians and the Biologists Gone Berserk?
Ocean and Coastal Law Journal Vol 13, No.2, 2008
St.Croix River: State of the Watershed Report, 2008
St. Croix State of the Watershed, 2008
St. Croix River Stand-Off
Two Reports on Alewives in the St Croix