The Importance of Doing Fish Counts


Alewife Volunteer Counts


                             Have you seen this fish?                              


The Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) is a type of river herring which returns every spring from the ocean to spawning grounds in upstream ponds. Although there are fish ladders built around dams, many of these are not in good repair, or are of poor design.  Between these obstacles to swimming, and pollution levels, the Alewife population is in danger.

The Parker River Clean Water Association conducts a count of the Alewife fish every spring from early April 1 to mid May in order to determine how many fish are now able to make their way upstream.  Recent counts show a decline of over 70%  in comparison with counts from the 1970s.  PRCWA relies on volunteers from the community to help us in the fish count.  

We hope that you will join us in this effort!


Anadromous Fish of the Parker River


Anadromous fish are fish that are born in freshwater rivers, streams, and ponds but spend most of their lives in salt water. The adults return to freshwater, usually to the stream in which their were born to spawn. Human activities, most notably dams, have severly impacted the ability of many anadromous fish to return to their home stream. Well designed fishways (fish ladders), however, can alleviate the problem and provide these species with the means to make the passage upstream.

From the very beginning of colonial settlement in the Parker River basin, laws were passed to regulate fishing and by the late 1700's there was considerable concern about the decline of fish populations in the Parker River.

Anadromous Fish Still Present in the Basin


Blueback Herring

Sea Lamprey


Striped Bass

White Perch


There are many environmental factors that affect fish populations.  These are documented in a report done by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game:


Factors Influencing Riverine Fish Assemblages in Massachusetts.


PRCWA Contacts

We'd love to hear from you and get your input on ways to preserve the Parker River Watershed and the Plum Island Sound.

PO Box 798, Byfield, MA  01922
Telephone :

Email :


Check out PRCWA's Facebook Page!


Webmaster: Jerry A. Mullins

 Contribute to our Online Watershed Journal!

Share common experiences & observations in our three beautiful watersheds (Essex, Ipswich, Parker).  Please share your activities with your photographs, mapping your location, and if possible, a journal reflection.


The results of your journal entry will be visualized, along with all of the other participants.

Our Purpose!


The PRCWA is a community-based, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the restoration and protection of the waters and environment of the Parker River and Plum Island Sound Watersheds.


Share us with the World

Help us spread the word about the importance of protecting our pristine  Parker River Watershed for the benefit of our quality of life and for the preservation of our environment .

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