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Take Action to protect River Herring Today

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Take Action to protect River Herring Today

On Wednesday, Feb 4, The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Shad & River Herring Management board will be making final decisions on Draft Amendment 2 to the Shad & River Herring Fisheries Management Plan.

Government biologists report that the severe decline in River Herring stocks is due to a combination of issues. Even though recreational fishers are under a moratorium and in other states the directed commercial fishery has been reduced or closed completely, there were only very minor gains in a few rare locations but overall the decline continues. The one issue thus far ignored in actual regulations has been the fact that since 2001 over 1 million pounds of River Herring have been recorded as by catch in the Atlantic (Sea) Herring fishery.

On Wednesday the ASMFC will have the opportunity to take significant action. You can help by taking a few minutes to send an e-mail right now!! Each state has three ASMFC seats. The three seats are filled by a state fisheries commissioner, a governor's appointee and a legislative appointee. Lists of commissioners can be found at the following link:

States we expect on our side: NY, PA, MD, NC, VA
States we are not sure of: DE, GA, SC, NH
Potential Problem States where we need a lot of pressure: ME, MA, NJ, CT, RI

Urge your commissioners to support recreational harvest option 5 that will institute a complete moratorium on recreational harvest. Urge them to also support commercial harvest option 4 which would close direct commercial fishing for River Herring except for sustainable fisheries.

Most importantly tell your commissioners that it is time for strict by catch regulations to be included in the River Herring plan. Ask them to vote for at least the following three options:
Option 3a will establish limits on river herring by catch in other commercial fisheries
Option 3b would require mandatory reporting of by catch and discards at a statistically confident level
Option 3c would mandate time/area closures for fisheries know to have high River Herring by catch.


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Some Talking Points for those that like to write:

· River herring landings from directed commercial fisheries have declined 90% in the last two decades, this corresponds with an expansion of offshore fishing for Atlantic herring and Atlantic mackerel.

· While bycatch data in these offshore fisheries is limited due to low levels of observer coverage, the available data reveals disturbingly large catches of river herring by mid-water trawl vessels. For example on four trips alone in 2007, the Atlantic herring fishery incidentally caught over 120,000 pounds of river herring. This is more river herring than any state landed through a directed river herring fishery in 2006, except for Maine.

· Because of high volume catches of single and paired mid-water trawl vessels, we need to look at the amount of river herring that is caught in relation to river herring populations, not in proportion to the total catch or landing. The offshore fishery has the capability of wiping out an entire run.

· It has proven difficult for scientists to fully understand the impacts of at-sea bycatch mortality on river herring populations because the limited amount of observer data makes statistically-significant extrapolation impossible.

· The Board needs to manage by individual runs, not the total population size, individual runs are becoming extinct.

· The last stock assessment was completed in 1990. A new stock assessment was recently initiated, and is scheduled to be completed in 2012. The bycatch data needs to be collected now so this can be incorporated into the stock assessment.

· The last stock assessment, conducted nearly two decades ago, showed five of fifteen stocks were overfished and four more had experienced declines. This assessment also recommended management actions to control fishing mortality, yet to date no measures have been implemented on a coastwide basis.

· To halt the decline and begin rebuilding healthy river herring populations, aggressive and immediate management actions are necessary. A failure to act swiftly to control all sources of river herring mortality could result in another Atlantic species becoming commercially extinct.

· ASMFC has the authority to mandate states create a shoreside program to quantify catch of river herring in the offshore fishery. Massachusetts and Maine have already begun to collect data, the states need to be mandated to operate on the same protocols, share the data in one large database and sample enough and during times when river herring catch is greatest.

· Because trends in river herring bycatch data indicate peak areas and seasons, time/area closures should be proposed and brought forward to the NEFMC and MAFMC to protect river herring.

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View Postneed fish ladders everywhere


and where they already exist put in more and bigger ones


that should help a lot




How about they fix the ones that don't work. cwm40.gif

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