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World Fish Migration Day Events Coming to Maine in May

Celebration includes tour of Penobscot River dam removals on May 22.

BRUNSWICK, ME | May 05, 2014

On May 24 and throughout the month of May, there will be events in Maine and all over the world to recognize the challenges of fish migration and the opportunities of restoring rivers and oceans.

Though World Fish Migration Day is May 24, several events are planned throughout Maine all month, from art projects with school children to tours of the Penobscot River Restoration Project.

"World Fish Migration Day is a terrific way to draw attention not only to the significant challenges that fish face in reaching their habitats, but also to the many successes we've had in restoring their journeys," said Josh Royte, conservation planner for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. "The day and its events throughout the world also point to the many ways that the needs of people and communities are tied to the success of migrating fish. By safeguarding the life cycles of fish, we're also empowering people and their communities."

The Nature Conservancy, the International Union of Conservation Nature, Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, World Wildlife Fund, and Wanningen Water Consult & LINKit consult have come together to create greater awareness of the importance of freshwater migratory fish and free flowing rivers.

With the help of more than 150 organizations, celebrations and events have been organized in over 200 places on World Fish Migration Day, starting in New Zealand, and following the sun, finishing as it sets on the West Coast of North America. This international commemorative day will bring global attention for the need to ensure natural river networks remain connected or, where they are fragmented, to restore connections whenever possible, to achieve both healthy fish populations and productive rivers. The theme running throughout all events is “Connecting fish, rivers and people.”

Migratory fish species (such as, salmon, sturgeon, eel and herring), relied on by millions of people for food and livelihoods, are under threat. The main cause is man-made obstacles. Dams, weirs and sluices built for water management, hydropower and land drainage prevent fish migration and disrupt the natural flow of a river. Many fishes need to migrate to reproduce, feed and complete their life cycles. These migratory species make up a crucial link in the food chain; playing an important ecological role in a productive river system.

In Maine, one of North America’s most ambitious river restoration efforts is under way on the Penobscot River, with the removal already of two dams and the planned state-of-the art fish bypass to help restore 1,000 miles of river habitat for sea-run fish. The effort is being led by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust.

Events in Maine include:

May 1-22: Flat Fish Stanley, a statewide project with Maine school children, who will create a large collage to be presented May 22 at the Maine Discovery Museum.

May 17: East Machias foot race along the Machias and East Machias Rivers at the time Atlantic salmon smolt are migrating out to sea and celebration of alewife harvest with smokehouse and oral history project. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

May 17: Benton Alewife Festival - daylong celebration of Maine's largest alewife run (so far). Free tours of the alewife run and harvesting, as well as celebration of outdoor fun in Maine, live birds of prey demonstration, smoked alewife sampling and more. 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

May 22: Penobscot River Restoration Tour, 1 to 3:30 p.m. - Visit the sites of two large dam removals on the Penobscot River at Veazie and Great Works. Learn about and see American eels; visit the new fishway at Blackman Stream, where we might see alewives migrating and end the tour at the Maine Discovery Museum for snacks while we view children's art from around the state showing what they've learned about our migratory fish and their ecosystems. Park at Pickering Square Parking Garage on Water Street in downtown Bangor to meet the bus. This event is being cosponsored with USFWS, NOAA, and the Penobscot River Restoration Trust. Click here to register.

May 24: Damariscotta Mills fish ladder and fish restoration festival with alewife smokehouse and opportunity to watch hundreds, maybe thousands (depending on season) of alewives migrating up tremendous community fish ladder. Also live music, children's activities and great food. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

May 24: Presumpscot River Restoration tour and celebration. Visit the restoration work planned along the Presumpscot River in and around Westbrook and end the day with happy hour at the Frog and Turtle and movies of alewife migration projected on the side of a nearby building in downtown Westbrook.

May 24: Somesville Fish Passage Project - Tours of historic dam and fish ladder and fish counting and scale sampling research. 10 a.m. to noon.

Aside from The Nature Conservancy, World Fish Migration Day is sponsored by:

  • WWF Netherlands is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment
  •  IUCN SSC/WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group is a global network of freshwater fish experts with a shared mission of achieving conservation and sustainable use of freshwater fishes and their habitats
  • Wanningen Water Consult works at the interface of water management, ecology and communication. WWC gives advice on international fish passage projects, stimulates knowledge exchange among specialists and initiates communication activities.
  • LINKit Consult provides specialist advice to solve issues on land and water management. We bring people, ideas and resources together to help realize ambitions. Our inspiration is on improvement of the quality of water, nature and landscape.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Eric Aldrich
Marketing Specialist
The Nature Conservancy in Maine

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