For seven years now, I’ve reported on the strange saga of the alewives of the St. Croix River, which forms the border between the US and Canada in eastern Maine and southwestern New Brunswick.
They’re the key forage food fish of the river system and near-coastal ocean, but back in 1995, the Maine legislature decided to order the fishways closed to them in the St. Croix, on the behest of guides for smallmouth bass, an introduced species they feared would be harmed by the native fish (an assertion lacking in compelling scientific evidence.)
In 2013 — under heavy lobbying by everyone from the U.S. and Canadian federal governments to the Passamaquoddy tribe and Maine lobster fishermen — lawmakers finally repealed the law and the fishways were reopened.
Now, six years on, the river’s alewives have seen a record run — nearly half a million fish, or double 2018’s level and five thousand times the 2002 run of 900. I had the story in Monday’s Portland Press Herald.