TREMONT — Improvements to the Seal Cove fishway that are aimed to ease alewives’ arduous journey from the sea will not happen this fall, but the project’s backers hope that schedules and funding can align in time for next season.
The Maine Coast Heritage Trust, along with Acadia National Park and the town of Tremont, has been working to smooth over two rough patches in the fishway that connects Seal Cove to Seal Cove Pond. Permits and the funding were all lined up this year but work schedules and high water levels made it difficult to get the project done in the season’s work window, said Misha Mytar, a senior project manager at the trust.
“It was a longshot to get it done this year,” she said.
Mytar is now working to get the first phase of the project finished sometime next summer or early fall. This phase would help restore the fishway at the site of a former dam farther downstream from the existing one. The plan is to set up a series of natural step pools with rocks to mimic nature. The second phase would involve work on the current dam at the pond.
These improvements are expected to make the final sprint of an alewife’s spawning journey home a lot easier.
Alewives can be found across the Eastern Seaboard. In the spring, adults leave the ocean and head to the freshwater body in which they were born to spawn. The fact that the species largely returns to its original site makes keeping fish passages open all the more important and there has been work in recent years to reopen passages all across Maine.
A healthy run can be filled with fish, though the one in Seal Cove has struggled over the years.
The pond was stocked with 1,200 fish this spring and the organizations behind the project hope that it will be ready for when the alewives return as adults in about three years.