The alewives return for the annual spring trek from the Gulf of Maine to Maine's streams lakes. The return of the alewives means the start of the fish count at Nequasset Lake. From spring through early June, volunteers count the fish that successfully make it into Nequasset Lake to spawn. Counting is a fun activity for both children and adults.
Nequasset Lake has been the site of a sustainable alewife harvest in Woolwich, Maine for hundreds of years. Lobstermen still come to the site to buy bait, and smoked alewives are sold for 75 cents apiece. Volunteers who count fish help contribute to the sustainability of the harvest and the Nequasset alewife population.
The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust has coordinated the alewife count at Nequasset Lake since 2012. In fall of 2014, a new fish ladder was built to replace a crumbling fish ladder from the 1950s.
Alewives are important for lake health and Gulf of Maine fisheries. They form the base of an extensive food chain. They are food for fish like striped bass, tuna, cod, haddock, halibut, smallmouth bass, pickerel, and yellow perch. They are also food for birds and mammals, like bald eagles, ospreys, great blue herons, cormorants, seals, whales, mink, raccoons, and fishers. As a result of the mild winter, alewives have arrived back at Maine's streams earlier than the last few years.
The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust is a membership supported organization dedicated to protecting the land, water and wildlife of the Kennebec Estuary. It maintains nine preserves for public enjoyment and has protected 2,668 acres of land since founding in 1989.
FMI visit www.kennebecestuary.org or call (207) 442-8400.