Gov. Mills visits Webber Pond dam fish ladder

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, center, netted some alewives at the Webber Pond Dam, in Vassalboro, on a recent visit. She is flanked by Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Pat Keliher, left, and Vassalboro resident, and Webber Pond Board of Directors member Phil Inness. (photo by Jeff Nichols)

Governor Janet Mills visited the Webber Pond alewife fish ladder on Thursday, May 30. It was an historic event. She is the first governor to visit an alewife fish ladder at all, much less to bring the Commissioner of Marine Resources Pat Keliher and the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Judy Camuso to Webber Pond, in Vassalboro.

Gov. Janet Mills, left, discuss alewives at Webber Pond Dam with Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Pat Keliher, right, and Vassalboro resident, and Webber Pond Board of Directors member Phil Inness, center. (Photo by Jeff Nichols)

Webber Pond Association President Frank Richards got to interact briefly. The governor seemed to be having a good time. She was interested to learn that brook trout also ascend the fish ladder and that Webber Pond has become a well-known lake in the realm of bass clubs, tournaments, and even Bassmaster’s magazine.

Webber Pond was one of the first alewife restorations and it has become something of an example for other lakes. The pond has had a run now for about 15 years; since approximately 2004 when the first adults returned from the ocean.

This year the governor’s visit was scheduled on a “Count” day. She borrowed a net from the harvester for the sake of a photo op.

A lot of the conversation centered on the environmental benefits of alewife restoration. The group also had the experience of watching an eagle swoop down and pluck an alewife out of the water.

Next year, possibly, this can be done again and scheduled on a harvest day, in order to present the economic development benefits of alewife restoration to the lobster bait business, lobstering, and especially to the marine fishery.

Alewives are more than lobster bait. They significantly increase the forage available to haddock, cod, and other species in the Gulf of Maine.


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