Managing the River Commons
November 18 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
From pre-colonial times to the 19th century, New England’s rivers provided a seasonal bounty of fish — salmon, shad, alewives — for those who lived along their banks. Large-scale commercial fishing and the construction of industrial dams put an end to the bounty, but the farmers who lived along the rivers did not acquiesce quietly to the changes.
in his book, Managing the River Commons, historian Erik Reardon argues that to protect these fish, New England’s farmer-fishermen pushed for conservation measures to limit commercial fishing and industrial uses of the river. Beginning in the colonial period and continuing to the mid-nineteenth century, they advocated for fishing regulations to promote sustainable returns, compelled local millers to open their dams during seasonal fish runs, and defeated corporate proposals to erect large-scale dams.