Nature-like fishways have been designed with the intent to reconnect river corridors and provide passage for all species occurring in a system. The approach is gaining popularity both in Europe and North America, but performance of these designs has not been quantitatively evaluated in a field setting for any North American species. Two nature-like fishways and three technical fishways in New England were evaluated for passage of anadromous adult alewives Alosa pseudoharengus by using passive integrated transponder (PIT) telemetry. A perturbation boulder rock ramp (32 m long; 4.2% slope) constructed in Town Brook (Plymouth, Massachusetts) passed 94% of the fish that made passage attempts, with most fish ascending the ramp in less than 22 min. In the East River (Guilford, Connecticut), a step-pool bypass design (48 m long; 7.1% slope) passed only 40% of attempting fish, with a median transit time of 75 min. In Town Brook, a technical pool-and-weir fishway (14 m long; 14.3% slope) exhibited poor entry and poor passage for the fish. In contrast, in the East River, two technical steeppass fishways (3 m long; 29.6% and 9.6% slopes) passed the majority of available fish, although one of these steeppass fishways may have lacked sufficient flow to attract fish to the entrance. In both Town Brook and the East River, tagged fish passed rapidly downstream through all fishways after spawning. In the East River, the amount of time fish spent in the spawning habitat before migrating downstream ranged from 1 to 41 d. These studies demonstrate that some nature-like and technical fishway designs can effectively facilitate passage of alewives, but a fishway's location in relation to a spillway is important, and further evaluations are required to more precisely identify the influence of the vertical drop per pool and the specific local hydraulics on alewife behaviors and passage performance.
Additional publication details
Evaluation of nature-like and technical fishways for the passage of alewives at two coastal streams in New England