East Machias Aquatic Research Center
13 Willow Street, East Machias
On the banks of the East Machias River, witness one of the region’s most promising efforts to restore native fish runs. At the Downeast Salmon Federation’s Aquatic Research Center, water is diverted from the East Machias River into a former electric powerhouse redesigned as a salmon hatchery powered by renewable energy. Learn more about the region’s river heritage in the small museum and education center.
207-483-4336 | www.mainesalmonrivers.org
Year-round (M-F 9-5 or by appointment). Parking. Restrooms. Water access.
The East Machias Aquatic Resource Center is a place for renewal. Where a dam and hydroelectric plant once blocked fish migration on the East Machias River, a new hatchery and watershed research and education facility supports populations of endangered Atlantic salmon and other native fish. Using manipulated water flows, natural feed and other techniques that mimic the natural conditions in the East Machias River, the hatchery raises salmon parr equipped for survival in the wild.
Generations of people—and ospreys—await the return of alewives to the East Machias River in late spring. Alewives spawn in freshwater lakes and ponds upriver. The East Machias has the largest lake area accessible to alewives.
At one time, as with many towns in Maine, the annual rush of alewives in spring provided income to the town. Fishermen scooped alewives with dip nets from perches atop the rapids, or trapped them with brush weirs in tidewater, as many as as 100 barrels in a single day. They packed the alewives in salt for a few days, smoked some over a slow-burning sawdust fire, and shipped them to the West Indies.
Alewives are consumed locally today, thanks to the Aquatic Resource Center’s traditional smokehouse used to prepare “bloaters” (ungutted smoked alewives), a local favorite.
Sources & Links
Whittier, Henry Smith. East Machias 1765-1926. Machias, ME: University of Maine.