Fact Sheet

Atlantic Herring: History of a Fishery

Herring have been caught sustainably in New England waters for centuries. But the fishery has recently changed and industrial fishing now dominates.

In the first half of the 20th century, herring were fished primarily with small-scale, low-impact gear such as weirs and purse seines. But in the 1960s, large foreign fleets equipped with massive trawl nets began catching amounts of herring previously unimaginable. By the late 1970s, the offshore population of Atlantic herring had collapsed. This prompted Congress in 1976 to expel foreign vessels from within 200 miles of U.S. coastal waters under the original Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Fact Sheet File: Atlantic Herring: History of a Fishery