Long Island Sound

Posted Apr 15, 2024
Speak up for River Herring! Ask for time/area closures in Amendment 10!

Send a letter

Comments can be sent to the New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) via email at comments@nefmc.org or by mail addressed to Cate O’Keefe, PhD, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill #2, Newburyport, MA 01950. Please note on your correspondence; “Atlantic Herring Amendment 10 Scoping Comments.” Comments must be received or postmarked by 8 am, April 30th.

Tell the NEFMC that you support measures designed to end the by-catch of river herring. In particular, time/area closures for locations where Atlantic herring fisheries overlap with concentrations of shad and river herring in waters adjacent to Southern New England.

Read the comments of Rivers Alliance

Attend a meeting

Attend a public hearing at the Hilton Hotel in Mystic on April 17 from 6:00pm – 8:00 pm. Concerned citizens can attend and speak. There will also be an online option. Register to participate online. Call in info: +1 (562) 247-8321; Access Code: 124-483-408

Attend a webinar on Webinar Monday, April 22, 2024 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Register to participate.

New England Fishery Management Council amendment 10 information page.

Background information

Credit: Steve Gephardt

There was a time when the Connecticut River and all the State’s rivers that flow into the Long Island Sound teemed with migratory fish, including salmon, shad, striped bass, sturgeon, and river herring. The construction of dams from the late 1600s to the mid-1900s blocked their path and prevented them from spawning. The numbers of these fish plummeted. For the past 50 years we have made gains in bringing back these fish runs by cleaning up our rivers, removing unneeded dams, and building fishways around dams that remain.

Despite the earlier historical decline, Connecticut streams were still full of spawning river herring each spring as recently as the 1970s. River herring include two species, the alewife and the blueback herring, which are similar foot-long silvery fish that enter our streams in schools. Streams like the Farmington, Mattabesset and Salmon rivers; Pewterpot, Salmon, Porter, and Roaring brooks and Chester and Higganum creeks were full of spawning herring up to the first dam. This was also true along the shoreline from Greenwich to Groton; every sizeable stream had river herring runs.

Stream conditions are now much better than they were in the 1970s yet the numbers of river herring have been in a downward spiral since then and are now at risk. Numbers lifted over the Holyoke Dam went from 630,000 to 21. Most of the small streams flowing into the Connecticut River are empty. The blueback herring are more-or-less extinct from smaller coastal streams.

How can this be?

About the time when the decline began, large trawlers started harvesting Atlantic herring from the waters off the eastern end of Long Island Sound during the late winter when our river herring were congregating to enter the Sound for their spring spawning runs. Atlantic herring and river herring are closely related and resemble each other. The massive nets, often pulled by two huge ships, scoop up river herring along with the Atlantic herring.

After years of urging by conservationists, the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) amended its Atlantic Herring Management Plan by prohibiting trawlers in the area of the ocean off southern New England waters when our river herring are mixing in with the Atlantic herring. However, the courts threw out the closure on a procedural issue before we could see any gains. The trawlers have now returned and continue to kill our river herring.

Why do we care about river herring? They are the forage base supporting both freshwater and saltwater ecosystems. Everything eats them including ospreys, bald eagles, striped bass, tuna, largemouth bass, and great blue herons. If we care about our rivers and the Sound, we need to have an abundance of these fish, yet we have a history of treating forage fish as expendable.

Rebuilding river herring runs will revitalize our waters, support all manner of wildlife, and improve recreational fishing, which is a lucrative industry supporting tourism and contributing to our quality of life. It has been said that there are plenty of river herring in Maine so there is no need for concern. That’s because the NEFMC closed their coastal waters to the trawlers. Now the trawlers come to southern New England to catch our fish because the NEFMC has not closed our coastal waters.

Is that fair?

It is time that NEFMC provides the same protection for our fish that it provides Maine. The NEFMC is considering a number of protective measures including re-closing the Southern New England area via a proposed amendment to the Atlantic Herring Plan called Amendment 10.

The people of Connecticut and the Connecticut River watershed need to speak up and demand fair treatment.

Posted Jun 05, 2020
Trump aims to strip protection from ocean preserve under cover of crisis

President Donald Trump is intending to open the door to commercial fishing in the only federal ocean Monument in the Atlantic. This precious marine preserve, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, 150 miles off our coast is a haven of pristine waters and diverse wildlife.

The creation of the Monument in 2016 by President Barack Obama was brought about with strong advocacy from the entire Connecticut delegation, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Rivers Alliance and many other environmental groups are asking you to join us in contacting Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen Chris Murphy, who are key supporters of the Monument.

Inflicting harm on this preserve will not save our fisheries. Quite the opposite. The fisheries of the future depend on deep-sea breeding and nurturing preserves. NE Canyons and Seamount is the only one we have in our region.

Contact Rep. DeLauro

New Haven Office Phone: (203) 562-3718

Washington, DC Office Phone: (202) 225-3661

Contact Sen. Murphy

HARTFORD (860) 549-8463

WASHINGTON DC P: (202) 224-4041

More information:

Posted Mar 17, 2020
A beautiful distraction from COVID-19

Need a distraction from all things COVID-19? Call your congressional delegate and thank thank them for saving something beautiful – the Northeast Canyons and Sea Mounts National Monument.

Ask them to speak up this month for that $500,000 appropriation in fiscal year 2021 for an evaluation of the ecological features of the natural environment in the monument. This study will open the door to effective protection going forward.

The New Haven Register had a great opinion piece about it called The Serengeti of the Sea Needs Our Help.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is managed by two federal agencies. For more information, visit their websites at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Posted Jan 13, 2020
Court Dismisses Challenge to Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

Anthomastus coral in Oceanographer Canyon

Anthomastus coral in Oceanographer Canyon.

Healthy ocean ecosystems have a direct impact on river health. A disruption of food webs and nutrient cycles in one environment impacts the other. We’re celebrating with our colleagues that work in saltier environments that the court upheld the creation of this national monument off New England’s coast.

Here is a brief Connecticut Public Radio report on the court decision.

Posted Oct 02, 2019
Celebrating the third anniversary of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

Rivers Alliance of CT was at Yale on October 10th to celebrate the third anniversary of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

ale School of Forestry Kroon Hall, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven

Connecticut played a critical role in the 2016 designation of the first and only marine national monument in the U.S. waters of the Atlantic and a beacon of climate resilience.This pristine habitat is hard to explore, but we’re taking you on a virtual tour of the wildlife found in the monument, with a renowned research scientist as your tour guide

We heard from Peter Auster, Senior Research Scientist at Mystic Aquarium, about research in the Monument, including photos from dives in September 2019. The audience of about 150 watched amazing deep sea submersible footage and a live Q&A session with a panel of experts including Yale Professor Rob Klee, former Commissioner of CT DEEP and Rivers Alliance’s own Margaret Miner.

We thank our Congressional Delegation for their critical role in getting the Northeast Canyons & Seamounts designated as a Marine National Monument.

The Celebration was sponsored by: Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment, Connecticut Fund for the Environment – Save the Sound, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Environment CT, Mystic Aquarium, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sea Ahead, Rivers Alliance, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is managed by two federal agencies. For more information, you can visit their websites at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Posted Jun 11, 2019
Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

“All things merge into one, and a river runs through it” (Norman Maclean). All Connecticut rivers flow into the Sound and on into the Atlantic Ocean. This is the destination of the clean, cold water we strive to protect in our rivers; this is the end point of our work.

We care about what is happening out there, but the news is not great. Melting ice in the Arctic, Antarctic and alpine regions; a massive expanding dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yet take heart. There are still pristine ocean regions. The nearest to us is the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, about 200 miles off Cape Cod, a place of abundant, diverse wildlife. This we must save. Here is a great Factsheet about it.

Rivers Alliance is working with local and national groups to protect this marine treasure. These groups include the the Natural Resources Defense Council, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Mystic Aquarium, CT League of Conservation Voters, New England Aquarium, and the National Ocean Protection Coalition in support of strong protection for this marine treasure.

Our champions in Washington have been our two senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. (Senator Murphy, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee has advocated for science research funding linked to keeping the Monument unspoiled.

You can join us in thanking them at:

  • Richard Blumenthal: Hartford (860) 258-6940, or Washington DC (202) 224-2823
  • Chris Murphy: Hartford (860) 549-8463 or Washington, DC (202) 224-4041

NOAA’s website for the National Monument

Posted Dec 03, 2018
NFWF Announces $2.57 Million in Grants from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund

Thirty-six grants to Improve the Health and Ecosystem of Long Island Sound

From the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF):

Port Jefferson, NY (December 3, 2018) – Today, top federal and state environmental officials from New York and New England announced 36 grants totaling $2.57 million to local government and community groups to improve the health and ecosystem of Long Island Sound.

The activities funded through the Long Island Sound Futures Fund​ (LISFF) show how projects led by local groups and communities make a big difference in improving water quality and restoring habitat around the Long Island Sound watershed. This grant program combines funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

Read the rest of the story

View the Hartford Courant coverage

Posted May 03, 2016
US Sen. Chris Murphy Releases Long Island Sound Investment Plan

At a May 2 press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy announced the release of his Long Island Sound Investment Plan to ensure that the Sound is protected and “remains the ecological landmark and economic driver it is today.”

“From the thousands of species of wildlife the Sound support, to the fishing and aquaculture industries, to submarine manufacturing, and simple family afternoons on the beach, our state fundamentally depends on a healthy Long Island Sound,” Sen. Murphy said. The plan outlines the federal programs that support the Sound and the funding they require. It advocates for increased investments in programs that support job growth, like aquaculture research at Milford Lab (one of only two federal aquaculture research labs in the country) and programs that protect habitats. It also discusses ways to address water-quality challenges.

The plan calls for a total of $860 million in funding for the following federal programs:

Promoting Stewardship and Fostering Healthy Coastal Habitats

  • $10 million for the EPA’s Long Island Sound Geographic Program to support implementation of the Long Island Sound Study
  • $600,000 for the National Estuary Program to develop and implement the Long Island Sound Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP)
  • $68.4 million for NOAA’s Habitat Conservation and Restoration programs to protect marine life and strengthen natural ecosystems, including $21 million for the Community-based Restoration Program

Growing and Supporting Connecticut’s Fishing Industry

  • $20 million for aquaculture research at NOAA labs
  • $80 million for the National Sea Grant Colleges System, which provides $1.1 million in funding for education, research, and stakeholder collaboration at Connecticut Sea Grant at UConn Avery Point
  • $9 million to support aquaculture research in salt waters through the Marine Aquaculture program
  • $121.8 million to help restore fish habitats, manage the catch share program, and combat illegal fishing through the Fisheries Management Programs and Services
  • $150 million to improve aquatic habitat science and implement protected species management through the Fisheries and Ecosystem Science Programs and Services
  • Maintaining adequate resources and staffing at Milford Lab

Preparing for the Next Storm and Investing in Coastal Resilience

  • $53.8 million for Coastal Zone Management and Services to provide data and tools to coastal states on resiliency efforts
  • $10 million for Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants to implement habitat friendly coastal resiliency projects
  • Continued implementation of Connecticut’s $54 million federal Housing and Urban Development grant to prepare our coastline for the impact of rising sea levels and severe storms
  • $10 million for the newly created National Oceanic and Coastal Security Fund to help Americans respond to the threats of rising sea levels and warming oceans

Read a press release with a link to the full plan.