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Working Together to Bring Back "Siqonomeq"

   Topographical map of St. Croix River and Grand Falls Dam. Illustration courtesy of Ed Bassett.

Historically, millions of "siqonomeq," or alewives, migrated between the Gulf of Maine and the St. Croix River watershed. After many years of effort, the Passamaquoddy Schoodic Riverkeepers, Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Houlton Bands of Maliseets, Penobscot Nation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Atlantic Salmon Federation and Maine Rivers join with state legislators, scientists, commercial and recreational fishermen and our Canadian counterparts to celebrate a milestone in ongoing efforts to restore access to habitat on the St. Croix watershed.  

On June 5, we will celebrate the removal of the barriers at Grand Falls in Maine that have prevented alewife from moving upstream into historic spawning habitat and pledge our commitment to continuing work throughout the watershed to restore access for river herring -- alewife and blueback herring.  Potentially alewife production on this watershed could be the highest of any watershed in Maine resulting in ecological and economic benefits for the region, as well as significant cultural benefits for the Passamaquoddy and other tribes.

Ecological Connections

By allowing alewives to access their ancestral spawning grounds, we are restoring an important living connection between the marine and freshwater ecosystems. Many creatures depend on alewives for food such as Atlantic salmon, cod, ospreys, and eagles. 

Benefits to Local Economies

Wherever alewives are found in great abundance, local economies have come to depend on them.  Restoring access to alewife spawning grounds above Grand Falls Dam will benefit local economies, as alewives are used as bait in local ground fisheries and lobster fisheries.  These fisheries, including the alewife fishery, are an important part of the local cultural identity.

Cultural Significance to Passamaquoddy Tribe/First Nation

The Passamaquoddy Tribe/First Nation inhabit the coastal and inland territory within the St. Croix River watershed along the U.S. and Canadian border. The Passamaquoddy, whose name means People of the Pollock Place, have depended on the rich resources of the ocean and the fish that seasonally spawn in the waters of their land to enrich the ecosystems on which their hunting and fishing culture has depended. Maintenance of their culture through access to traditional resources contributes to the diversity and richness of Maine’s and New Brunswick’s broader maritime culture. The reopening of historic St. Croix River spawning grounds to alewives and blueback herring strengthens the Passamaquoddy culture and traditions by ensuring the survival of indigenous resources upon which Passamaquoddy culture and traditions depend.

For more information on Passamaquoddy Tribe

Click here for link to Joint Press Release on river run

Click here for Media Advisory about June 5 event

Click here for Press release and other information about June 5 event

Click here for Next Steps on St. Croix Partnership