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What's So Special About May 24?

Students from Eastern Point Day School in Gloucester, MA participated in Flat Stanley activity.  Photo credit: NOAA

Millbrook in Rockport, MA.  Site of eel presentation and more on May 24.  Photo credit: NOAA

It’s World Fish Migration Day!

World Fish Migration Day is an one day global initiative, with local events worldwide, to create awareness about the importance of open rivers and migratory fish. NOAA Fisheries is a supporter of this effort that was initiated by World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy,  IUCN  SSC/WI Freshwater Fish Specialists Group, Wanningen Water Conult and LINKit conult.

What makes these fish unique?

Free migration for fish is crucial to achieve healthy fish stocks. Most fish are migratory to some degree. However, some species in the greater Atlantic region like Atlantic salmon, Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, alewife, blueback herring, brook trout, shad, lamprey, and American eel migrate thousands of miles, traversing rivers and oceans, to complete their life cycles. These anadromous fish spend a portion of their lives in fresh and saltwater. Over the years, habitat loss and degradation due to the construction of dams and water pollution and overfishing have contributed to declines in many of these species’ populations. 

NOAA’s Work

NOAA is involved in many different types of projects to help migratory fish species.  We protect and restore the places where these fish live, spawn and feed – their habitat. We do this by removing dams or improving fish passageways so fish can better access these important habitats.  We provide technical advice and consultations on hydroelectric and other federally permitted or mandated projects to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect migratory fish species and their habitat. We work with other federal management agencies to develop regulations to minimize the catch of migratory fish species like river herring and shad in commercial fisheries for other species like mackerel and Atlantic herring. We also support ongoing research to learn more about these fish and their migratory patterns.

Public Happenings

NOAA Fisheries is involved in several events to mark this special day.   All events are free and open to the public.

Throughout May 2014

Have you heard of Flat Stanley? During the month of May (and maybe beyond?) Our Flat Fish activity will get you and your family outside looking for the best waterfront spots to share your enthusiasm for helping fish migrate!

Find out more about our Flat Fish activity!


May 15

Join us for a Tweet Chat to see what you know about sturgeon.  Ask a NOAA Scientist questions about sturgeon on Twitter using tag #ESDaychat and NOAA Fisheries biologist Jason Kahn will answer. The tweet chat is scheduled from 2-3pm EST.


May 22

Penobscot River Sea-run Fish Restoration Bus Tour in celebration of World Fish Migration Day

To register for the bus tour:

For more information on the bus tour and other area World Fish Migration Day activities, contact Josh Royte/The Nature Conservancy at, (207) 373-5214 or C Cheryl Daigle/Penobscot River Restoration Trust at, (207) 232-9969.


May 24

Eel Migrations - Passage from Saragasso Sea to Briar Swamp 

Millbrook, Rockport, MA

9-11 am

Come see the eels as they migrate through Millbrook in Rockport, MA. With the help of the Millbrook Meadow Conservancy and Rockport High School students, Eric Hutchins, of the NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center, will provide a tour of Rockport, Massachusetts’ historic Millbrook.  Members of the public will be introduced to elvers (American eels) at the beach, as they enter the brook after traveling over 1,000 miles from the Sargasso Sea.  Eels will be located and displayed temporarily in tanks within the Millbrook Meadow.  Human impacts on the brook, first settled by European-Americans in 1699, will be discussed, highlighting the importance of rivers in early settlements for drinking, watering gardens, energy production and waste disposal.  Ongoing efforts to restore the brook will be discussed, with a show-and-tell of the new fish ladder on a rebuilt dam.  Attendees will learn about the many challenges to resident and visiting eels, rainbow smelt, and other migratory diadramos fish populations trying to make their way between fresh and saltwater habitats. Special thanks  to the Toad Hall Bookstore, which donated $500 to build the eel monitoring trap and supplies.