Bringing Alewives Back from the Brink

After decades of population declines, alewives are slowly but surely returning to their ancestral habitat on Maine’s St. Croix River – and that’s good news for Maine’s environment, economy, and fisheries.

CLF in Action

Alewives play a critical role in the health of Maine’s fisheries, serving as food for cod, salmon, and striped bass and as a bait fish for lobstermen. In the mid-90s, the alewife population collapsed due to a 1995 state law that blocked the fish from reaching their freshwater spawning grounds.

That’s when CLF took action to save the keystone species. Successful lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Maine, along with pressure from the Passamoquoddy tribe and other groups, led the State to invalidate the1995 law. In 2013, the St. Croix River was opened to alewives once again – and populations have been slowly on the rise ever since.

CLF is working to ensure that alewives are given a fighting chance to recover not just on the St. Croix but throughout New England. Today, we’re involved with relicensing proceedings for dams further up the St. Croix River and ensuring fish passage on the Presumpscot River that empties into Casco Bay.