Why do we count herring? Visual counting tells us how many fish are in the river each year. Starting in 2004, every night between April 15 and May 30th, over 30 volunteers have come to the river to count the number of fish migrating. This data is used by the MA Division of Marine Fisheries to estimate the total population. In 2017, MA DMF used our data to estimate that the population was 81,000 fish in 2016. The estimate dropped to 42,000 in 2017 – half as many fish as 2016. In 2019, however, DMF estimated the herring population had rebounded 60,500 fish. The herring run in the Coonamessett used to be almost a million fish, so we have a way to go yet. But we hope that with improvements being made as part of the restoration, these numbers will continue to rise.
Fish tagging and counts have been suspended during the Corona virus emergency.
Herring swim over a white board, which makes it easier for counters to see them.