Every spring, the Nemasket River welcomes thousands of migratory river herring that thrash and leap as they fight their way upstream from Mount Hope Bay. Of all non-domesticated animals, the river herring—or alewife—has arguably had the greatest impact on the towns along the river in southeastern Massachusetts. The area was called Nemasket, or “place of fish,” by Native Americans, and its earliest English colonists were dependent on river herring for their very survival. They provided a livelihood for generations of families in Middleborough and Lakeville, shaping their culture and the course of the region’s development. Today, herring fishing is banned, and the community is working toward protecting and preserving the river so the herring have a place to return each year. Join historian Michael J. Maddigan as he explores the big story of the small fish that shaped life along the Nemasket River.
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