APCC Seeking Volunteers for Upcoming Herring Count

DENNIS – As local waters warm, herring will make their return to streams and ponds across Cape Cod and the Association to Preserve Cape Cod is seeking volunteers to count fish as they run.

The Association has partnered with state and federal agencies, natural resource managers and other organizations to promote and support herring counts.

The association’s Director of Science Programs Jo Ann Muramoto said volunteers are needed at nearly 20 runs in 12 Cape Cod communities.

“It’s a very easy activity,” Muramoto said.

“We ask volunteers to be able to walk the run and visually see the herring passing by at a given count location.”

Volunteers count herring for ten minutes, along with taking water and air temperature measurements and making other notes about the weather or predators.

The counts are conducted from April 1 through June 1.

Herring counts collect valuable data on herring populations which are used by fisheries managers to protect the fish.

The fish are an important species for the coastal food web and healthy ecosystems.

“At this time of year, herring are a really important source of food and a key piece of the food web that includes coastal and offshore fish, wildlife and birds that are looking for food at this time of year which could be pretty scarce,” Muramoto said.

River herring include blueback and alewife species which are both listed as Species of Special Concern.

“If the pattern continues as in past years, herring populations have been very low,” Muramoto said.

Low counts have been seen despite a ban on catching, selling or possessing the fish since 2006.

Muramoto said there were rumors that herring may have started running in the Mashpee River last week. She said she was there over the weekend and did not see any.

“The water temperature was pretty cold over the weekend – about 4 degrees Celsius,” she said.

Scientists believe herring migrate in water temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius.

“We haven’t quite reached that point but we are close,” Muramoto said.

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod works to help coordinate and train volunteer counters.

Anyone interested in participating is asked to contact Muramoto at the APCC by calling 508-619-3185 or emailing jmuramoto@apcc.org.

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