Herring populations have been declining in coastal streams for a variety of factors including an inability to get to their spawning grounds due to dams or non-operational fish ladders. The herring are important because they are a crucial link in the coastal food chain. They are a source of food for striped bass, bluefish, osprey, herons and other coastal species. This study will help evaluate the health of our herring populations and identify problems that impede their ability to reach the upper reaches of the rivers and tributaries to spawn.

To help combat these problems, the North and South Rivers Watershed Association and MassBays National Estuary Partnership is seeking volunteers from the end of March through the end of May to count herring.  The counting will be done seven days a week, six to nine times a day, at seven different locations. These counts will help us continue to monitor trends in our local herring population. We will also be able to verify that herring can now pass dam removal sites on Third Herring Brook and Bound Brook.

Volunteers are needed that can commit to doing 10 minute counts, ideally several times a week, during a specific time period, at one of the sites. The sites are:

  • Bound Brook, North Scituate – site of a 2017 dam removal, herring have only just started to return in small numbers.
  • First Herring Brook, Scituate – with flows controlled by the Town of Scituate, this site has low numbers but is crucial for informing upstream restoration.
  • Jacobs Pond, Third Herring Brook, Norwell/Hanover – with all the dams downstream removed, we are hoping to install a fish ladder and need to know if there are fish making it all the way upstream.
  • Tack Factory, Third Herring Brook, Norwell/Hanover – herring were able to pass this site starting in 2017 after the dam removal, and were increasing in number each year until 2021.
  • South River, Marshfield – site of future fish passage restoration and the first of multiple project sites on the South River
  • Herring Brook, Pembroke – historically the highest population of herring in the watershed, it is a crucial site for gathering data to understand the decline.

The time slots will be between 7 am and 7 pm.

We are still accepting herring counters all April and May – just sign up at

Are you a current volunteer that needs a datasheet?