Copyright Trillium Studios 2020

Last year was a heartening one for local fisheries scientists. After several years of declining river herring numbers, 2023 saw a significant uptick throughout many Massachusetts rivers. Our own Herring Brook in Pembroke was one of five rivers in the state that recorded its highest ever count in 2023. In fact, Herring Brook was the largest herring run in the state with a total run estimate of 570,000 fish! Other notable runs in 2023 included the Parker River in Newbury, Town River in Plymouth, Herring River in Wellfleet, and the Marston Mills River in Barnstable. Each of these rivers saw the highest numbers in the history of their counting programs (27 years for the Parker!).  

This state-wide data would not be possible without the dedication of citizen scientists who participate in annual herring counts. So we call on you again this spring to be a critical part of this long-running monitoring program. Your help is needed to count herring at one of six sites throughout the watershed – it only takes ten minutes! You will choose one of three four-hour timeblocks (7am-11am, 11am-3pm, and 3pm-7pm) and count any ten minutes within those four hours. You can sign up for multiple times and multiple sites according to your schedule. Counts start on March 25th in Pembroke and April 1st at all other locations and continue until May 31st at all locations except the South River (June 15th or slightly earlier).

Sign up to count at one or more sites here! We will contact you to schedule your times.

  • 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.
  • Third Herring Brook, Norwell/Hanover behind Hanover Mall Macy’s – After 3 dam removals and recent removal of 3 weirs, we are excited to see fish in expanded portions of the brook.
  • 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 tracking trends. 

You can watch a previous training to learn the procedure or as a great way to refresh your memory if you have volunteered in the past. 

Please join us in collecting important data that helps inform restoration in our watershed and helps us understand herring populations locally and regionally.

Click here to read more about herring counts.