Updated April 1
The fishway at the Richard F. Madeiras Herring Run opened Friday thanks to a community effort. While the fishway has opened for herring to cross, it is not open for people to harvest or fish.
Members of the Oak Bluffs and Tisbury shellfish departments, Oak Bluffs Water District, and some volunteers came together to help open the fishway for the passage of herring.
Constructed in 1991, the fishway connects Lagoon Pond, the 534-acre tidal pond, to the 13-acre freshwater Upper Lagoon Pond as a passage for local herring populations. Tens of thousands of herring are estimated to pass through the fishway each spring to spawn.
Herring are an important part of the ecosystem. Zooplankton are eaten by herring, which are in turn eaten by larger fish like bluefish and striped bass, cornerstones of the Island’s fishing Derby in the fall.
“It’s a valuable resource,” Kevin Johnson, Oak Bluffs water superintendent, said. “These fish are food fish for game fish.”
If the herring are happy, then the game fish are happy; if game fish are happy, fishermen and women are happy, which attracts more people — and more money — to the Island.
“It’s a trickle-down effect,” Johnson added.
Oak Bluffs shellfish constable David Grunden, who was among the group who helped get the fishway flowing, said last year they saw fish in the run, and are hoping for more this year.
Updated to say the pond is not open for people to fish. — Ed.