Capstone Title

The Penobscot River Restoration Trust and the Return of Alewife and Blueback Herring, Alosa pseudoharengus and A. aestivalis, in the Penobscot River, Maine

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

David Kerstetter

Second Advisor

Donald McCorquodale


Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) populations are in decline. Together known as “river herring”, these species are necessary for the health and diversity of both the Penobscot River and the Atlantic Ocean ecosystems. The natal rivers of some of the northern New England stocks of river herring are located in the tributaries of the Penobscot River, Maine. These aquatic ecosystems are in a state of degradation, affecting the ability for organisms to inhabit them successfully. Riverine and oceanic ecosystem degradation began with the European settlement of North America. Deforestation, habitat fragmentation by dams, and water pollution along with commercial fishing pressures have jeopardized river herring populations. Conservation efforts date back to the 19th combined with environmental legislation passed and implemented in the 1970s has provided minimal protection for river herring and their habitat. In an effort to restore the watershed, an alliance of federal and state governments, non-government organizations, and the Penobscot Indian Nation came together in 2004. Known as the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, the group will work to remove two dams on the lower Penobscot River and improve fish passage at a third, decommissioned dam. The Penobscot River Restoration Trust is working to restore the watershed while maintaining use of riverine resources. This balance between humans and nature will serve as a model for future species management and river restoration.

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