Restoring Migratory Fish to Rhode Island s Rivers and Streams. Outline

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1 Restoring Migratory Fish to Rhode Island s Rivers and Streams Phil Edwards Rhode Island DEM Division of Fish & Wildlife Outline Anadromous Fish Life History Types of Fishways RI DEM/F&W s Efforts to Restore Anadromous Fish in Rhode Island 1

2 Anadromous Fish Life History Anadromous fish (Ashad and river herring) hatch in the freshwater, mature and spend the majority of their lives in salt water, and eventually return to their native freshwater ponds and streams to spawn again. The adults return to sea after spawning and may return the following year. Once the eggs hatch, the larval fish remain in the freshwater utilizing the nursery habitat. During summer and fall the juveniles return to the sea for three to four years until they return to to their native freshwater systems to spawn in the spring. Anadromous Fish River herring -Alewife - Blueback American shad others Catadromous species - American eel 2

3 River herring American Shad 3

4 River Herring Important forage fish - sport fish, wildlife, freshwater species Prior to March 2006, - valued as a bait fish for sport fish and lobsters - consumption Timing of the Spring River Herring Run in Rhode Island Begins at the end of March Peaks during April Ends in May 4

5 Anadromous Habitat Restoration New fishway Dam removal Culvert repairs Low slot boards and juvenile diverters 5

6 6

7 Types of Fish Passage Systems Denil Fishway Alaskan Steep Pass Pool and Weir Fish Lift and Lock 7

8 Denil Fishway at Nonquit Site Entrance to Denil Fishway at Nonquit Site 8

9 Alaskan Steeppass Fishway at Gilbert Stuart Site 9

10 Saugatucket River- Indian Lake Fishway 10

11 RI DEM / Fish & Wildlife Efforts to Restore Anadromous Fish in RI Supports and partners with various organizations on restoration projects Conducts a herring stocking program Monitors anadromous fish populations throughout the state Provides maintenance and seasonal adjustments to existing fishways Estimates stock assessments and sets harvest regulations 11

12 RI Anadromous Fish Restoration Projects Involve many Partners - Government Agencies - NGO s - Private Owners Goal is to provide anadromous fish access to valuable nursery and spawning habitat that was impeded in the past Funding Sources RI Habitat Trust Fund (CRMC) DEM 319 NOAA Programs USDA-NRCS US Fish & Wildlife US EPA Army Corps of Engineers BayWAG (Narrag. Bay Estuary Program) RI Corporate Wetlands Restoration Program Other sources Leveraging 12

13 Proposed Restoration Projects Blackstone River Kickemuit River Pawtuxet River Ten Mile River Woonasquatucket River Wood/Pawcatuck RI River Herring Stocking Program Transplanting Adult Broodstock Ripe Adult River Herring are transplanted during the spring Adults spawn in the new systems and juveniles are imprinted for that system In three to four years the juveniles return as adults to spawn Reasons - Supplement an existing run - Reestablish extirpated system - Reintroduce to Restored Area Goal 13

14 14

15 15

16 Monitoring River Herring Runs Spring Adults -Spawning Stock Size - Electronic Fish Counters - Direct Counts - Observations Summer & Fall Juveniles JAI - Seine Surveys - Trap Nets - Electrofishing - Video Equipment Solar Fish Counter and Weir at Nonquit Site 16

17 Electronics for Solar Fish Counter at Nonquit Site Fishway Exit Into Pond at Nonquit Site 17

18 Fishway Exit Into Pond at Nonquit Site Fishway Exit Into Pond at Gilbert Stuart Site 18

19 Potter Hill Fishway Trap 19

20 Beach Seining - Juveniles Electrofishing 20

21 Summary of Rhode Island River Herring Stock Status and Regulations Sites Selected Nonquit - Denil Fishway acres of spawning and nursery habitat - Run size monitored since 1999 Gilbert Stuart - Alaskan Steeppass Fishway - 68 acres of spawning and nursery habitat - Run size monitored since

22 Similarities Both sites are in close proximity to the ocean Prior to 2000, both sites considered well established self-sustaining runs Prior to 2000, both sites considered for acquiring adult broodstock Both sites receive in-river fishing pressure Differences Anadromous Fish Regulations - Prior to 2002, Nonquit had no harvest regulations, closed fishing days or license requirements because of the salt/fresh water boundaries Herring Abundance Over Time at Gilbert Stuart and Nonquit Estimated Run Size Abundance 350, , , , , ,000 50, Gilbert Stuart Nonquit 22

23 Mortality Rate Estimates Over Time at Gilbert Stuart and Nonquit Mortality Rate (Z) Gilbert Stuart Nonquit Percent Repeat Spawners Over Time at Gilbert Stuart and Nonquit % Repeat Spawners Gilbert Stuart Nonquit 23

24 Age Composition at Gilbert Stuart and Nonquit 2004 Gilbert Stuart Age Composition Percent Age Females Males 2004 Nonquit Age Composition Percent Age Females Males Decrease in Fork Length at Age Over Time Decrease in Fork Length (mm) at Age Between 1992 and 2004 Data FL (mm) Difference Age Females Males 24

25 Conclusions Nonquit and Gilbert Stuart spawning stock size is declining. Total annual mortality is increasing. Proportion of repeat spawners is decreasing. Truncated age structure and decrease in length at age over time. Current River Herring Regulations Fresh Water/Marine - Moratorium - Complete closure-march 2006 Prior to March Freshwater * 12 fish daily limit * Closed Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday * Dip net or small seine * Valid RI freshwater fishing license - Marine - None 25

26 Woonasquatucket River-Future Restoration Plans Fish Passage Broodstock enhancement Monitoring - Adults - Juveniles River Herring Stock Assessment Create a self-sustaining run Alewives below Potter Hill Fishway 4/28/

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