Local environmental group to conduct yearly fish audit in Providence & Smithfield

They’ll use electrofishing again to help catch, document, and release fish in the Woonasquatucket River

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Every year, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council checks out the health of the river’s ecosystem using the same method: electrofishing.

The Council’s Executive Director, Alicia Lehrer says, “I’ll just preface it by saying that the fish do not get hurt.  No fish are harmed in this process.”

Just like they’ve done for the past 8 years, volunteers will head out to the river, first in Providence then in Smithfield, where they’ll help document the number and species of fish living in the river using special equipment.

Lehrer says, “…which creates an electric current that both attracts the fish, but then gives them a mild shock that stuns them temporarily, enough so that the people who are collecting the fish can grab the fish in the nets.”

From there, the fish are measured and identified, then returned to the river.  By documenting the number and diversity of fish in the river, they can tell how healthy the river’s ecosystem is.  This will be their 8th year checking on the river in the same way.

Lehrer says, “There’s something great in environmental monitoring about getting the same data, year after year, at the same locations, at the same time of year, because that’s when you get the best picture of whether there are any trends.”

According to Lehrer, it can take 10 to 20 years to spot important trends in the data they collect.  If you’re interested in helping this year, they need volunteers for either date.  They will provide equipment and training.  You just need to show up.

Lehrer says, “This is a very wonderful way for people to get connected to their local river.”

To learn more, visit their website: https://wrwc.org/wp/

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island