The American Shad, a fish native to the Charles River, is making a comeback thanks to improved water quality and the stocking of shad fry. Since 2006, the Charles Rriver Watershed Association (CRWA) has worked with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as they restock the Charles River with millions of shad fry.
One of the largest members of the herring family, American shad can reach up to 30 inches in length and weigh 7-8 pounds. The shad is one of five species of anadromous fish found in the river – fish that are born in freshwater, spend the majority of their lives in the ocean, and return to their native freshwater to spawn.
Shad were plentiful in the Charles until the mid-1800s, and there are historical records identifying shad in the river as early as 1633. After 1850, the population began to decline due to construction of dams and the degradation of water quality.
Approximately 13 million shad fry have been released in to the Charles River since 2006. In June 2011, returning adult American shad were seen in the Charles River for the first time since the program started. Testing confirmed that these adult fish had been released as juveniles as part of the American Shad Restoration Project. On Friday June 29, thousands more juvenile shad fry will be released in to the Charles River as the project continues.