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For Maine's alewives, the possibilities are as large as the threats

May 10, 2007

Working Waterfront
May 2007
By Mike Crocker

As closely woven into the fabric of eastern Maine’s economy as it is to the region’s ecology, the steady decline of alewives, sometimes called river herring, prompts some fishermen and scientists to talk about the loss in both social and biological terms.

“If you want dollar-a-pound codfish and haddock again, then you need to take care of the 5 and 10 cents a pound herring,” said Ted Ames, a lobsterman from Stonington, whose research on Maine’s inshore cod stocks shows that the groundfish began to vanish alongside alewives at the turn of the last century.

“In the past, alewives provided a forage base that held cod inshore over the winter, sustaining a robust seasonal fishery,” he said. “The decline unraveled numerous systems in the ocean as well as the communities that depended on them on land.”

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