Many opportunities are available for volunteers to participate in protecting and restoring river herring populations.

Habitat Restoration

Dams and undersized or hanging culverts can be one of the greatest threats to river herring because they alter the river habitat and block or impair migration to and from spawning and nursery habitat. State and federal agencies and non-government organizations are working on numerous projects to enhance fish passage at dams and to improve habitat quality in the streams where river herring live. Some habitat restoration projects have opportunities for volunteers to be involved.

River Herring Population Surveys

Keeping track of how many river herring migrate up rivers during spawning season is extremely important to provide accurate information for conservation and management. River herring surveys enable fishery managers to know whether the species are increasing, decreasing, or staying stable across their range.

On the Computer: You can help with a river herring survey right now without even stepping away from your computer. It only takes 5 minutes! Do a video fish count.

On the River: Many organizations such as land trusts and conservation groups coordinate fish counts on local rivers and streams, and they rely on volunteers to do the counting.

Counting river herring

Volunteers counting river herring in Maine.

Local Volunteer Opportunities

Listed below are opportunities for volunteers to participate in efforts to monitor and restore river herring. If you know about other opportunities that we should consider listing, please email us.



  • Coastal rivers at fish ladders in several towns in the seacoast area. Assistance is needed primarily on weekends, holidays and some weekdays during April through June. Volunteers will assist Fish and Game staff in monitoring coastal fish ladders during the spring and early summer fish migrations. Time commitment ranges between 3 and 8 hours per day, depending on the project. Contact: Michael Dionne, 603-868-1095, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.



  • Connecticut River. Assistance in spring field sampling and restoration stocking. Contact: Ken Sprankle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


  • Long Island Alewife Survey. A partnership project with Seatuck Environmental Association, Long Island Sound Study, NYSDEC, and Peconic Estuary Program. Volunteers attend training sessions and then are assigned creeks/rivers to monitor for spawning alewives. We are specifically looking for remnant populations/spawning runs. Contact: Victoria O’Neill, New York Bureau of Marine Resources.

Resources for Volunteer Coordinators

  • A Guide to Statistical Sampling for the Estimation of River Herring Run Size Using Visual Counts, G. Nelson, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
  • VisuCount Software: In recent years, public interest in the status of river herring has been growing. Community watershed groups have established herring counting programs at several locations along the Atlantic Coast. In 2006, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries established guidelines and recommendations for proper statistical designs that many watershed groups are currently applying. However, improper data collection and application of survey-design equations has limited the useful of the run size estimates for management purposes. To aid with the correct estimation, the program VisuCount was created to allow data entry, correction, and calculation of run size. Please read the VisuCount Manual before using the software, and report any bugs to Gary Nelson.