PO Box 51, Dresden, Maine 04342 info@alewifeharvesters.org 207-441-3006

Woolwich Fishery

Source: Maine ASMFC River Herring Sustainable Fishing Plan 

The Maine Department of Marine Resources manages this system for a commercial escapement of 35 fish per acre. The spawning escapement need for this system is 13,720 river herring passed upstream by the harvester. The management plan has achieved returns to meet the target escapement developed for this system or passed the entire run each year for the past 20-year period.  This fishery is one of two commercial fisheries that allow constant spawning escapement throughout the run (Figure 28).  In addition, the fishery is closed for an additional 72-hours during the week.

The fishery is located at the entrance to the tidal fishway that leads to Nequasset Lake. The Nequasset fishery is one of a handful of locations that harvest river herring for food.  River herring are salted and smoked as a seasonal delicacy. Smoked alewives sell for $90.00 per/bushel compared to $20.00 per/bushel for lobster bait. Alewives sold as bait at Nequasset are rationed between the numbers of fishermen that arrive in the morning to pick up bait.  Nequasset, like most fisheries cap the number of alewives sold to any one fishermen at 2-4 bushel per day.  This system allows the limited amount of bait caught on any one day to supply a larger number of individual fishermen.

Nequasset Lake is a municipal water supply for several towns in the surrounding area. Maintaining high water quality is important to the water district.  Currently there are no limitations on the number of alewives permitted into the lake to spawn, though some municipal water districts prohibit alewife reintroduction.  There is no evidence to this point that alewives are causing water quality concerns.