Dredging has begun at Herring Creek, the shallow run that connects Menemsha and Squibnocket Ponds, marking the final phase of a five-year project to restore 230 acres of coastal pond and beachfront that was severely damaged by the remnants of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Even before the hurricane, the old herring run had been slowly filling with silt and sand for decades, said Bret Stearns, natural resources director for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). The storm accelerated the process.

“There was very intense erosion along the shorelines after Sandy,” he told the Gazette by phone last week. “The water came in with such intensity it started to erode the vegetative boarders, and it only became worse with subsequent storms.”

The problem has been especially visible during extreme tides, with almost no water in the creek at mean low tide, Mr. Stearns said.

In 2014, the tribe was awarded $670,000 in federal money from the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency program. A local match added $212,793 to the project, and a supplemental grant came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mr. Stearns said.

The project has included sand replenishment and beach grass and other vegetation planting at Lobsterville and West Basin Road, along with the installation of a new culvert. In 2016 the tribe also installed an underwater camera at the Herring Creek to monitor fish moving between the two ponds.

Mr. Stearns said a stringent federal permitting process delayed the start of the dredging project at the creek for three years, but was finally completed late last year. The work is being done by Marine Network LLC, he said.

The dredging must be completed by Feb. 15, the start of the winter flounder spawning season.

“In some areas of the stream we will be dredging up to two and a half feet to get it back to its natural depth, where there is a pebble bottom. In a few areas it is perfectly fine just the way it is,” Mr. Stearns said. “We should be done just in time.”

After the dredging is finished, the sides of the creek that have been eroded will be restored using vegetation and other so-called soft methods. A single culvert will be replaced with a double culvert. And a wooden platform that crosses over the creek will be rebuilt; the platform is still used to net herring by tribal members, who have subsistence rights to fish the creek. Elsewhere in Massachusetts a moratorium on fishing river herring has been in effect for 15 years.

The approximate 1,200 cubic yards of sand and sediment expected to be dredged from the creek will be used to further nourish Lobsterville Beach, Mr. Stearns said.

He said historically Squibnocket Pond had an estimated population of well over 750,000 river herring at peak spawning season. Based on findings of the tribe’s underwater camera, 36,626 herring passed through the run to spawn last year.

“Our goal is to restore the stream so that the herring can flow freely, day and night, to their spawning grounds,” Mr. Stearns said. Our hope is that come March we will see a strong and healthy run.”