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Survey to learn more about the “Fish that Feeds All” to kick off in August

Alewives.  Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries

The Passamaquoddy people refer to alewife and blueback herring as “the fish that feed all.” This is because they are an important part of the marine and riverine ecosystem. They are a food source for countless species including other commercially and recreationally important fish like cod and striped bass, and numerous mammals and birds of prey. By moving between saltwater and freshwater, they also provide important nutrients to the habitats that they occupy.

Throughout the fall of 2014, NOAA Fisheries is conducting a voluntary, coastwide survey of individuals who have caught alewives and/or blueback herring either commercially, recreationally, or for personal use at some point in their lifetime.

According to NOAA Fisheries project lead Dan Kircheis, the goal is to gather first-hand observations to inform our understanding of alewife and blueback population trends and help our efforts to restore these fish populations along the U.S. east coast.

“Fishermen have valuable knowledge about changes they’ve witnessed while fishing. They see yearly changes in fish run timing, abundance, distribution, individual fish size and species composition,” he said. “There is a lot we can learn from them that can help us in our efforts to restore alewife and blueback herring populations.”

What we hope to learn?

Through the 15-minute telephone survey, we will ask commercial, recreational and tribal fishermen a series of questions.

We will be seeking their insights on the following:

For more information about the survey, please call Dan Kircheis, Protected Resources Division, Maine Field Station, Orono, Maine at207-866-7320 or email him at

For more information on what NOAA Fisheries is doing to conserve alewives and blueback herring click here.