River Herring Experts Gather for Virtual Meeting

By: Mike Thalhauser, Collaborative Management Specialist, MCCF

Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries (MCCF) is proud to have co-hosted an online workshop on the state of river herring (alewives) research and management in Maine and New England alongside our partner, Manomet, last month.

What led to this you might ask? Well, my friend and colleague Anne Hayden (senior fisheries program manager at Manomet) and I are big fans of collaborative fisheries research and management. So, we do a lot of work to support local management in river herring and that takes many forms. From helping towns monitoring adult returns, to supporting local alewife management committees, to monitoring and measuring juvenile production, MCCF and partners are deep in the trenches trying to make this co-management opportunity a resounding success. All of these efforts lead to various partnerships, and it led to a conversation between Anne and myself, while out collecting environmental DNA (eDNA) samples to compare to juvenile monitoring efforts (pictured). The conversation was about how much capacity and knowledge out there from scientists, managers (local, state, and federal) and community members that are working to understand and restore river herring in Maine and beyond. This sampling trip turned into a plan to bring all of these folks together into a conversation about how we work together, across boundaries, to leverage all of our knowledge and capacity to really move the ball forward in river herring research, management and restoration.

And so about a month later, on a cold October morning in online Zoom halls and breakout rooms, 50 participants, including researchers from several academic institutions, federal, state and local managers, community members, Passamaquoddy Tribe members, and a list of NGOs met for three energy filled hours on that topic. Working together.

As typical in other MCCF work, crossing this many boundaries, no easy solutions immediately came to the forefront. However, what did happen was that we all learned a lot more about what everyone was doing in the world of river herring. We learned of each other’s goals and values, and gleamed a picture of what we might be capable of if there were more communication lines and partnerships, and what the benefits could be if we worked together, rather than in our silos.

The workshop ended with participants committing to continue the work and to bring other needed voices to the table. The next steps for Anne and I will include testing out ideas on what future networks might look like and eventually reconvening a larger group to map out a path forward, towards real and tangible products that would be valuable to people and fish.

To learn more about MCCF’s collaborative management efforts and current projects, please don’t hesitate to contact me at mthalhauser@coastalfisheries.org or 207.367.2708.

Onward, co-management!