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Volunteers and students help move and save Rockville Centre Smith Pond river herring

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Armed with nets and fishing waders, on April 12, volunteers and college students jumped into the spillway where water from Rockville Centre’s Smith Pond exits on its journey to the Ocean. Their job? To catch river herring that have fallen into the pool and throw them back into the pond where breeding conditions are better.

The hope is to increase the herring’s population and attract additional wildlife that would feed on the fish. “They’re really the French fries of the sea,” joked Enrico Nardone, executive director of Seatuck Environmental Association; the organization charged with carrying out the plan.

The project is part of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s Living With the Bay program, which is intended to increase storm resiliency for communities surrounding Mill River and its associated tributaries. As a side benefit, the program includes ecological restoration projects such as this one.

In addition to the Seatuck staff and volunteers, Hofstra University students, and biology professor Peter Daniel were present to help and take DNA samples of the fish to track the differences in river herring populations between the North and South Shores of Long Island.

Seatuck volunteer and board member Michael Reilly said he hoped the data they collected while moving the fish would be enough to prove to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the need for a fish ladder to be built at the Smith Pond spillway.