The Big Picture
In Massachusetts, shad swim upstream in the Connecticut River on their annual spring run. The fish, which spend much of their lives in salty ocean water off the East Coast but each year migrate to freshwater rivers to spawn, gained a place in history by helping feed George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War—earning the nickname the “founding fish.” Today, their annual run attracts eagles, ospreys, and striped bass, as well as eager anglers—and despite efforts to remove dams and restore river habitat, their numbers remain low along the Atlantic coast. At sea, shad are frequently caught by industrial-scale trawlers with football-field size nets that target other fish such as mackerel or sea herring. Pew is working with U.S. fishery managers to restore shad and other forage species so they can fulfill their essential roles in the ecosystem—and not just be left to history.