Alewives and Harvesters
Everything Eats Alewives
The major rivers along the eastern seaboard have been dammed for two centuries blocking access to the anadromous fish like alewives and salmon that go up the rivers to spawn. Alewives are near the bottom of the foodchain eating plankton. Everything up the foodchain eats alewives. When the alewives could not spawn the food chain was disrupted. Cod no longer came into the mouths of rivers to feed on alewives and eventually the cod fishery failed.
Today the alewife fishery is beginning to come back because dams have been removed and fish ladders and lifts have been built. It is hoped that with the return of the alewives the rest of the fishery will recover.
These men are Atlantic fishermen, born and bred. They would rather be fishing for cod. They are harvesting alewives for bait for lobster fishing. This is a sustainable industry in pieces. The harvesters are part of the support system for the restarted alewife migration. The number of spawning places in the Kennebec/Sebasticook watershed are still limited and the number of returning fish far exceed what the watershed can hold. The harvesters take the excess and in the process sustain their fishery.