Anglers Can Help Save Atlantic Herring

Sport-fishing enthusiasts can influence the federal management plan for Atlantic herring: here’s how.

Atlantic herring, a vital forage fish in the Northeast
Atlantic herring are a critical prey species as forage for bluefish, striped bass, false albacore and other game fishes of the Northeast.Courtesy Capt. John McMurray

OPINION Raising our standards for conserving key prey species means changing our management goal from maximizing yields for commercial fisheries to sharing the resource, in a way that accounts for the vital ecological role of these species as forage for natural predators, while still providing reasonable fishing opportunities. We congratulate the New England Fishery Management Council for recognizing the need to manage Atlantic herring in an ecosystem context and for responding to the calls of thousands of sport fishermen and many others, a diverse group of stakeholders who urged the Council to consider the importance of herring to the wealth of ocean wildlife that depends on herring as a food source. A healthy population of herring translates into healthy coastal communities, including other users of the resource — the striped bass, tuna and cod fishermen who rely on a healthy forage base of herring to sustain their target predators — and the ecotourism that count on the presence of herring schools to attract whales and seabirds. After three years of development, Draft Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Management Plan proposes major advances to the way herring are managed. Options in the draft plan, now out for public comment, are designed to safeguard the herring forage base by preserving an abundance of herring in the water for predators and by protecting vulnerable inshore habitats and predators from concentrated industrial-scale fishing. Read Next: Protecting Menhaden in the Atlantic Means Better Fishing An ongoing Atlantic herring assessment is painting a grim picture of a declining stock with poor recruitment, which could spell trouble well into the future for all who depend on an abundance of herring. The status quo method of establishing herring catch limits is too risky.

Join Wild Oceans in supporting the following options:

  • Catch limits for herring that specifically account for its role in the ecosystem. (ABC Control Rule Alternative 2); and
  • A new closed area near to shore where the largest, industrial trawlers would not be allowed to operate in order to minimize harmful impacts to herring predators as well as to other user groups, including sport and commercial anglers. (Localized Depletion and User Conflict Alternative 6 with Area Sub-option A and Seasonal Sub-option A)

How and When to Comment
Written comments can be submitted via mail, email, or fax:
Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director
New England Fishery Management Council
50 Water Street, Mill 2
Newburyport, MA 01950

Email: comments@nefmc.org
Fax: (978) 465–3116
Please note on your correspondence "DEIS for Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring FMP"

Comments must be received by 5:00 PM (EST) on June 25, 2018. Download the Amendment 8 Public Hearing Document for more details about the amendment alternatives and to find a hearing near you!

Ken Hinman
Ken HinmanCourtesy Wild Oceans

About the Authors:

Ken Hinman
As president of Wild Oceans, with more than 40 years experience working professionally to conserve marine fish, Hinman is the author of the groundbreaking 2015 report, Resource Sharing: The Berkeley Criterion, outlining a more balanced, more natural and far wiser alternative to our conventional way of managing marine fisheries, specifically those for key prey species.

Pam Lyons Gromen
Pam Lyons GromenCourtesy Wild

Pam Lyons Gromen
Gromen, Wild Oceans executive director, serves as a policy analyst and advocate with an emphasis on Atlantic marine ecosystems and habitats. She is the author of Taking the Bait: Are America's Fisheries Out-Competing Predators for their Prey?, the 2006 report that helped launch national interest in protecting forage fish.

Sport Fishing welcomes opportunities to share a variety of perspectives from prominent or influential participants in issues related to recreational fishing and fisheries.