Blueback herring and alewives, collectively known as river herring, are critically important to the ecosystem of the Atlantic coast. River herring spend most of their lives at sea before returning to their birthplaces in freshwater rivers and streams to spawn. But the fish are in trouble: numbers of river herring along the Atlantic coast have decreased over 90% since the 1970s, as the effects of overfishing and artificial dams decimate the population.
We were founded in 2010 as the Saugatucket River Herring Association by Former Director Bill Mcwha to combat this dramatic decline. Now known as the River Herring Collective, we are a community based collective dedicated to the restoration of the species in Rhode Island. From advocacy for policy to control overfishing, to meetups to lift herring over artificial dams, the RHC utilizes grassroots outreach and the passion of local fisherman and conservationists to help this struggling species.
The RHC gathers every spring to help herring that find themselves stuck at bottom of dams across RI. Between March and May, our volunteers lift thousands of herring by hand so they can continue their journey upstream.
The RHC works with local municipalities to advocate for better and smarter fishing policy, as well as infrastructure to help herring past dams. Our work has led to the implementation of multiple fish ladders across the state.
The RHC partners with and works alongside federal, state and local agencies, as well as local institutions like the University of Rhode Island, to contribute to research about River Herring, their population, and their migratory patterns.
Paul is a Rhode Island native, fisherman, and the Director of the River Herring Collective. Having grown up in Rhode Island, Paul developed a passion for the ocean, fishing, and conservation. He’s volunteered with the RHC for years, netting and releasing thousands of River Herring every spring at various dams along the Saugatucket River. He was appointed as Director by former Director and Founder, Bill McWha in 2020. He looks forward to coordinating and working alongside the passionate volunteers each spring.