Meet Tom Bell Herring Count Volunteer at the Weir River

The NSRWA partners and provides support where needed to many other watersheds and like-minded environmental organizations on the South Shore. Our goal is to provide technical support and empower local citizens to care for their rivers, estuaries and embayments throughout the South Shore. For the past two years the NSRWA has supported a volunteer herring count at the Weir River in Hingham in partnership with the Weir River Watershed Association and this year we added the South Shore Flycasters, a group of flyfishing enthusiasts whose leader lives in Hingham. Tom Bell, a member of all three participating organizations, has become a leading volunteer in the effort to renew the Weir River herring run. Listen to an interview with Tom about his experience being a volunteer herring counter.

The Weir River headwaters start at Accord Pond, which is a drinking water supply reservoir and visible from Rt 228 near the Exit 15 at the Rt 3 interchange. The river flows through Hingham and enters Hingham and Hull Bay after passing through the Weir River Estuary Park. The Weir River, like many of our coastal rivers, once had a thriving river herring population, in fact the name Weir River stems from the weirs that would be placed in the river to catch herring as they migrated in to spawn. Like most coastal streams over the last several decades, those populations have declined dramatically, their populations impacted by a loss of access to spawning habitat, flow impairments in the river, and by sea bycatch. There are two fish ladders on two different manmade dams on the river – at Foundry and Triphammer Ponds. Last year no fish were counted at the Weir River but volunteer counts were very limited. This year we have many more people volunteering at this site and with more eyes we have actually seen just this week a small number of fish downstream of the fish ladder and one volunteer saw one actually make it into Foundry Pond!  We are excited to build more capacity to help rebuild herring populations throughout the South Shore. After all, just as we find ourselves now with the COVID-19 crisis, we are all in this together.