Peter Baker, director of the Pew Environment Group's Northeast Fisheries Program and the Herring Alliance, issued the following statement today in response to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's (MAFMC) decision to seek public input on a set of proposed measures to be considered in Amendment 14 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan.
“We welcome the Council's decision to advance important proposals for monitoring and reducing the number of shad and river herring—the alewife and blueback herring species—that are caught in the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish Fishery.
“In moving all of these proposals, known as Amendment 14, to public comment, the council has sent a clear message that threatened species should not be fished beyond the point of no return. The migrations of alewives, bluebacks and shad have been a part of our cultural traditions since the nation's founding. We need to value these fish so future generations can enjoy them too, not just read about them in history books.
“Significantly, the council included options to add river herring and shad to the mackerel and squid fishery management plan. This fishery plays a major role in the decline of river herring and shad—overall, up to 10 million are killed every year along the East Coast.
“The proposal to require industrial-scale vessels to carry fishing observers on all trips and to prohibit dumping or hiding dead catch before it is examined by the observer will provide solid data on everything that is caught in the nets, not just what is targeted. Further, if the council caps the total amount of river herring and shad hauled in each year and discourages fishing in areas where these species are highly concentrated, this catch could be lowered to a reasonable amount.”