The Wampanoag Tribe manages a natural herring run located on Tribal lands. In the early spring, sexually mature Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis) and Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) will travel from the Atlantic Ocean into Menemsha Pond, pass through the herring run, and end in Squibnocket Pond where they will eventually spawn.
Spawning usually begins in mid March and will continue into June. Both herring and alewife are anadromous species, meaning that they can survive in both fresh and saltwater environments. Herring are conceived in fresh/brackish water where they spend the first few months of development. In the fall, the herring fry leave their pond nurseries and head out to the ocean. It will be three years until they reach sexual maturity. When it is time to spawn, these herring will return to their original birthplace to produce the next generation.
The Tribal herring run has observed a decline in numbers over the past years. In response, the Tribe has chosen to place a Moratorium on the commercial taking of herring from the Tribal run. The state of Massachusetts has implemented a similar regulation prohibiting the take of river herring. The Tribe’s Natural Resources Department is currently observing herring in order to create more effective management plans in order to restore these fish to more sustainable numbers.