11/02/2010 - Alewife is best known as the end of the Red Line, the last stop for thousands of commuters. Some know the name derives from a breed of river herring that fed the region’s early settlers. But few, if any, realize that the beloved alewife may be going the way of the passenger pigeon.
Numbers of river herring have dwindled so quickly that the three southern New England states banned fishing of it in their waters. But the fish have not rebounded to levels of even a decade ago. Conservation groups think they know why: Trawlers for sea herring are dragging the smaller river herring, which spawn in sea water, into their nets.
The best course would be strict caps on bycatch of river herring, enforced by monitors. About a third of the region’s 25 or so herring trawlers go out with such monitors now. In Alaska, all large trawlers have monitors on board.
Read the full editorial Alewife: Returning an Old Favor on The Boston Globe's Web site.