Ben Gahagen, Fish Biologist with the Mass Division of Marine Fisheries, will be the keynote speaker at the Sunday, February 23 annual meeting of the Parker River Clean Water Association (PRCWA) to be held from 1 – 3:30 PM at the Newbury library in Byfield on Lunt Street. (Exit 55 from I-95, Central Street west, go 1 block and turn left on Lunt Street). The public and PRCWA members are invited to this free meeting. Refreshments will be served. Reports of PRCWA activities and projects will also be presented.

Each year around April 1st River Herring migrate from the ocean to swim upstream in the Parker River to spawn before returning to the river later in the summer. For many years volunteers have monitored the migration by visually counting fish as they swim up the fish ladder at the Central Street dam in Byfield. This has yielded the most complete data base of the herring migration on any stream in coastal Massachusetts where river herring migrate. There has been considerable concern for sometime because the numbers of herring counted have been less than 5000, far fewer than years ago when migrations exceeding 70,000 fish were seen.

River herring are especially important because they are the food for the fish we like to put on our table. The Mass Division of Marine Fisheries is concerned about the low numbers of returning herring and has recently committed personnel to study the herring runs.

Ben Gahagen has been doing work this past season monitoring the herring run using an electronic device that can count fish both day and night. Comparisons will be made between the data obtained by visual counting and electronic counting to further help understand and foster improved conditions for herring migrations.

Ben has been studying conditions on the entire length of the Parker River. His talk will cover information about conditions of the herring migration from the mouth to upstream fish ladders, ponds and potential spawning areas. Fishermen as well as the public and PRCWA members will find this talk very informative and interesting. Please join us to learn more about the annual journey of river herring as they attempt to swim upstream and spawn.