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Celebrate World Fish Migration Day on April 21!

Most fish live in either salt (ocean) or freshwater (rivers and lakes). But did you know some species live in both? We call these species sea-run fish, and they are an important part of salt and freshwater ecosystems. World Fish Migration Day is a global celebration to create awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish. This April 21, 2018, on World Fish Migration Day, organizations from around the world organize their own events around the common theme of Connecting Rivers, Fish, and People. By working together, we create a greater driving force to raise awareness, share ideas and secure commitments.

Spending a portion of their lives in freshwater and a portion of their lives in the ocean, sea-run fish support healthy, living freshwater and nearshore marine ecosystems. Herring species such as alewives, blueback herring, and American shad mature at sea and along New England’s coast before making a mad dash up rivers and streams to spawn. With numbers that once ranged well into millions, herring provide food for scores of larger predatory fish that sought them out as prey, such as cod, haddock, and striped bass.

Today, these fish need our help. Much of their historical access to spawning habitat has been impeded by dams or other obstructions. Removing dams and constructing effective fish passages are important for returning these fish to their former abundance.

Beginning on March 31, NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center will host World Fish Migration Day events throughout the region to recognize the importance of these fish in our ecosystem. Through our programs, we hope to increase knowledge and understanding of migratory fish from Maine to Virginia.

World Fish Migration Day Events

March 31: Little River World Fish Migration Day Event

Little River's restored pool-and-ripple fish passage.

Learn how to count fish at the Little River fish ladder.

Volunteers sign up for 10 minute counts that help estimate the population of river herring returning to the Little River to spawn. No experience necessary. Here is a fun and easy way to help the river for all ages!

Come be a citizen scientist, celebrate World Fish Migration Day, and meet the Gloucester Shellfish warden and staff from NOAA Fisheries and MDMF. We’ll tour the nature like fishway, train new fish counters, and talk about the newly installed fishway donated by MDMF and installed by Sumco in 2017.

When: March 31, 2018 9:30am-10:30am
Where: Little River, 372 Magnolia Ave. Gloucester, MA 01930
Organizers: NOAA Fisheries and City of Gloucester
Contacts: Tara Trinko Lake (NOAA Fisheries), (978) 282-8477; Tammy Cominelli (City of Gloucester), (978) 559-9435

Through April 13: Marine Endangered Species Art Contest

Celebrate Endangered Species Day (May 18) by having your classroom or student participate in the Greater Atlantic Region’s Marine Endangered Species Art Contest. Endangered and threatened species need our help. Students’ artwork will help showcase their knowledge and commitment to protecting these animals. For rules, please visit our Endangered Species Day web page.

Deadline: April 13, 2018
Send entries to: 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930
Contact: Edith Carson:, 978-282-8490

April 21: Plymouth Herring Festival

Staff from NOAA Fisheries will provide interpretive tours at 11 am and 1 pm of four dam removals and efforts to restore migratory fish to Plymouth’s Town Brook.

When: April 21, 10am - 3pm
Where: Plimoth Grist Mill 6 Spring Lane, Plymouth, MA 
Organizers:NOAA Fisheries, Plimoth Plantation, Town of Plymouth
Contacts: Eric Hutchins,, (978) 281-9313

April 28: Rockport Elver Education and Stewardship Day

Staff from NOAA Fisheries will provide an interpretive tour and demonstration of the Mill Brook eel passage.

When: April 28, 9-10 am
Where: Rockport Mill Brook Meadow Park, Rockport, MA
Organizers: NOAA Fisheries, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Town of Rockport
Contacts: Eric Hutchins,, (978) 281-9313

April 28: Backyard and Beyond: World Fish Migration Day and Year of the Salmon

Sometimes being a fish is hard! Learn about our local migratory fish species and the obstacles that they face in our rivers and streams. Pretend you’re a fish trying to swim upstream, find your home using only your sense of smell, or navigate through obstacles to find your mate! Learn about what’s being done to conserve our local waterways and how you can be involved. This program is a joint effort between the Discovery Museum and NOAA Fisheries.

When: Saturday, April 28, 2018, 11am - 2pm
Where: Discovery Museum, Acton, MA
Organizers: NOAA Fisheries and the Discovery Museum
Contacts: Kristen Bronger, NOAA Fisheries, (978) 281-9378 and Rachel Danford, Discovery Museums, (978) 264-4200 ext. 137

April 28: Tour of the Great Dam Removal Site

The lower Exeter River now flows free.

The Great Dam on the Exeter River was removed in 2016. For the first time since colonial days, the lower Exeter River flows free and migratory fish can access historical spawning habitat. This restoration did not come without great effort or lack of controversy. Fisheries biologists from New Hampshire Fish and Game and NOAA Fisheries will lead a site visit (from shore) and a discussion of the benefits and challenges of dam removal.

When: April 28, 10– 11 am
Where: Founders Park, corner of Chestnut and High Streets, near the Exeter Library.
Organizers: NOAA Fisheries, NH Fish and Game
Contacts: Sean McDermott,, 978-281-9113

April 28: Pickpocket Dam Fishway Site Visit

The Pickpocket Dam is the first barrier to fish passage on the Exeter River. The Denil type fish ladder functions for resident and migratory species alike. View the fishway and discuss the pros and cons of different types of ladders. Although early in the migration season, we may see migrating fish. Fisheries biologists from New Hampshire Fish and Game and NOAA Fisheries will lead the site visit and discussion of the benefits and challenges of structural fishways.

When: April 28, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Where: Pickpocket Dam, corner of Pickpocket and Cross Roads, Brentwood (on the border of Exeter).
Organizers: NOAA Fisheries, NH Fish and Game
Contacts: Sean McDermott,, 978-281-9113

Through May: Marine Endangered Species Art Contest Gallery

Students from all over the Cape Ann region and beyond submitted several pieces of artwork that featured endangered or threatened whales, sea turtles, and fish. Students who were awarded the winner and honorable mention categories will be honored at an award ceremony held at the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office. The art will be available for public viewing throughout the month of May.     

When: Throughout May, Monday-Friday, 8 am - 4:30 pm
Where: NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA, 01930

May 2: Robert Thorson Speaking Event, author of “The Boatman”

Staff from NOAA Fisheries will provide introductory remarks  for Robert Thorson’s presentation about Henry David Thoreau’s writings about the Concord River and the relationship with migratory fish.

When: May 2, 7 pm
Where: Billerica Public Library, 15 Concord Rd, Billerica, MA
Organizers: NOAA Fisheries and the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust
Contacts: Eric Hutchins, (978) 281-9313

May 5: Endangered Species Day at the Bangor Public Library

Staff from NOAA Fisheries will provide a variety of family-oriented activities and art projects to highlight the recovery of endangered species in Maine. Children’s activities will include endangered species crafts and an Atlantic salmon migration game. This event is one of many that will be occurring in downtown Bangor as a part of Kid Central Fest 2018. Admission is free and open to the public.

When: Saturday, May 5, 10 am - 1 pm
Where: Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St., Bangor, ME 04401
Organizers: NOAA Fisheries and Bangor Public Library
Contacts: Max Tritt (NOAA Fisheries), (207) 866-3756, Sarah Bailey (NOAA Fisheries), (207) 866-7262, Christine Erickson (Bangor Public Library)

May 26: Alewife Day at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum

Staff from NOAA Fisheries will be on the banks of Blackman’s Stream, a recent restoration site where a nature-like fishway was constructed to help pass alewives up stream to access the ponds they breed in. Staff will be on hand to discuss the importance of reconnecting habitat for sea-run fish such as Atlantic salmon and alewives, and will teach the children about the spring run of alewives that are abundant in the stream. Admission is free and open to the public.

When: Saturday, May 26, 10am - 1 pm    
Where: Maine Forest and Logging Museum, 17 Leonard’s Mills Rd., Bradley, ME 04411
Organizers: NOAA Fisheries and the Maine Forest and Logging Museum
Contacts: Sarah Bailey (NOAA Fisheries) (207) 866-7262, Sherry Davis (Maine Forest and Logging Museum)