New England Ocean Conservation

Priorities

Protecting ocean wildlife off the New England coast

Atlantic Herring

The Atlantic herring is one of the most important fish (PDF) in the waters off of the northeastern United States. These small, nutrient-rich fish are eaten by larger fish we love to catch and eat–tuna, haddock, cod and striped bass. Herring are also food for iconic animals of the Atlantic Ocean like whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds. Coastal communities that depend on commercial and sport fishing, whale watching and tourism need plenty of herring in order for the ecosystem–and their businesses–to thrive.

Evolution in Herring Fishing: Bigger, not Better
Herring have been caught with weirs for centuries, but in the last decade, fishing for Atlantic herring (PDF) has changed primarily from small boat fleets using purse seine gear to industrial-scale gear (PDF) called “midwater trawling.” These large vessels tow massive nets that jeopardize the health of herring populations with little regard for their impact on ocean life and coastal communities.

The Challenge: Determining What is Going On
One of the biggest problems with this industrial fishery is poor monitoring. Alarming evidence of bycatch by herring trawlers continues to emerge, suggesting that the problems are greater than existing data reveals. It’s time to turn the Atlantic herring fishery from one that is largely unobserved into a fishery that must follow the same rules as other fishermen in America’s waters. Pew's campaign seeks to reform this fishery through improved regulation of the fleet (PDF)  so that Atlantic herring, and the animals that depend on them, will thrive.

The massive trawlers that fish for herring need to be more adequately regulated and fishing needs to be more closely monitored. We need your help to accomplish our goals.

  • Science-Based Catch Limits - Use a science-based ecosystem approach when setting catch limits so that we can be assured there is enough herring in the ocean.
  • Limit Fishing in Specific Areas - Limit fishing in specific areas of the ocean during critical times of the year to protect depleted river herring, recovering groundfish, spawning Atlantic herring and other wildlife vulnerable to midwater trawl bycatch
  • Monitor Fisheries - Develop a system to monitor the fishery effectively so that estimating the Atlantic herring catch and bycatch of depleted river herring, groundfish and marine mammals is more accurate.
- See more at: http://www.pewenvironment.org/campaigns/atlantic-herring-campaign/id/8589935300/goals#sthash.CxZgAocI.dpuf

Science-Based Catch Limits - Use a science-based ecosystem approach when setting catch limits so that we can be assured there is enough herring in the ocean. - See more at: http://www.pewenvironment.org/campaigns/atlantic-herring-campaign/id/8589935300/goals#sthash.CxZgAocI.dpuf
Science-Based Catch Limits - Use a science-based ecosystem approach when setting catch limits so that we can be assured there is enough herring in the ocean. - See more at: http://www.pewenvironment.org/campaigns/atlantic-herring-campaign/id/8589935300/goals#sthash.CxZgAocI.dpuf
  • Science-Based Catch Limits - Use a science-based ecosystem approach when setting catch limits so that we can be assured there is enough herring in the ocean.
  • Limit Fishing in Specific Areas - Limit fishing in specific areas of the ocean during critical times of the year to protect depleted river herring, recovering groundfish, spawning Atlantic herring and other wildlife vulnerable to midwater trawl bycatch
  • Monitor Fisheries - Develop a system to monitor the fishery effectively so that estimating the Atlantic herring catch and bycatch of depleted river herring, groundfish and marine mammals is more accurate.

Media Contact

Christine Fletcher

Officer, Communications

202.540.6908