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Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan

January 08, 2021

We are implementing measures recommended by the New England Fishery Management Council to establish an Atlantic herring acceptable biological catch control rule and prohibit the use of midwater trawl gear in inshore waters from Canada to Connecticut.

Acceptable Biological Catch

The acceptable biological catch (ABC) control rule is intended to ensure sustainable harvest of the herring resource and account for herring’s role as forage in the ecosystem. The control rule limits fishing mortality to 80 percent of the fishing mortality rate to support maximum sustainable yield when herring biomass is high and restricts fishing further when biomass is low. The control rule sets herring ABC for 3 years, but allows ABC to vary year-to-year with projected estimates of biomass.

Prohibiting Midwater Trawl Gear Inshore

This amendment prohibits the use of midwater trawl gear inshore of the 12-nautical mile territorial sea boundary from Canada to Connecticut and inshore of 20 nautical miles off the east coast of Cape Cod (Figure 1). The year-round inshore midwater trawl restricted area is intended to minimize user group conflict as midwater trawl vessels overlap with other user groups (i.e., commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries, ecotourism) that rely on herring as forage. Moving midwater trawl effort offshore is intended to mitigate potential negative socioeconomic impacts on other user groups resulting from short-duration, high-volume herring removals by midwater trawl vessels and help ensure herring is available inshore for other users groups and predators of herring. The inshore restricted area may also have biological benefits if it minimizes catch of river herring and shad, reduces fishing pressure on the inshore component of the herring stock, and helps ensure herring are available to predators.

Figure 1. Inshore Midwater Trawl Restricted Area

Amendment 8 inshore midwater trawl restricted area

Find out more about Atlantic herring.

If you have questions about this action, contact Carrie Nordeen.

This rule has an effective date of 02/10/2021.

This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.