Diadromous Fish Restoration in the Pawtuxet
Since 2001, the Pawtuxet River Authority has pursued the restoration of fish to the river which live in the ocean but must come to fresh water to reproduce/spawn. These species, native to New England, are the alewife, the blueback herring, the American shad and the American Eel. The Atlantic Salmon and Striped Bass are also part of this group, but to date, do not prefer Rhode Island fresh waters to spawn.
Before European settlers came to North America, all these species traveled into the Pawtuxet system. However, due to the creation of dams and discharge of pollutants during the Industrial Revolution in New England during the late 1700's throughout the 1800s and continuing into the 1900's, these species were either unable to access the river, or could not tolerate the degraded water quality of the Pawtuxet.
Since 1972, the water quality of the Pawtuxet has been improving. In 2011, the Pawtuxet River Authority removed a dam at the mouth of the Pawtuxet. That project, along with stocking by RIDEM, has allowed a number of these species to return and populate the first seven miles of the river for the first time in over 200 hundred years.
Read about our latest Fish Passage Project at the Pontiac Mill Dam in Warwick Rhode Island