Atlantic Herring Catch Cap
Catch caps are used to limit incidental catch of a non-target species in a fishery. Once a pre-determined percentage of a catch cap is projected to be reached in a particular area by a particular gear type, directed fishing of the target species may be limited.
River Herring and Shad Catch Caps
River Herring and Shad Life History
Shad (including American and hickory shad) and river herring (including alewife and blueback herring) are anadromous fish that spend the majority of their adult lives at sea, only returning to freshwater in the spring to spawn. Historically, shad and river herring spawned in virtually every river and tributary along the coast.
Both river herring and shad spawn in freshwater, and the young leave their home river within the first year and will spend the next few years at sea. They school in large numbers, and upon reaching maturity, return to the streams they were born in to spawn.
Shad and river herring once supported a large and important commercial and recreational fishery along the Atlantic coast. The damming of rivers, combined with habitat degradation and overfishing, have depleted shad and river herring populations.
River herring and shad may co-occur seasonally with Atlantic herring and are harvested as a non-target species in the fishery. When river herring are encountered in the herring fishery, they are either discarded at sea (bycatch) or, because they closely resemble herring, they are retained and sold as part of the herring catch (incidental catch).
River herring and shad catch caps were enacted to provide an incentive for the industry to continue to avoid river herring/shad and reduce river herring/shad catch to the extent practicable. The catch cap regulations specify that:
- The catch from all trips that land more than 6,600 lb (3 mt) of herring shall apply to the river herring and shad catch cap in the herring fishery.
- Beginning on the date that NOAA Fisheries projects that river herring and shad catch will reach 95 percent of a catch cap for specified gear for a specific catch cap area, NOAA Fisheries shall prohibit vessels from fishing for, possessing, catching, transferring, or landing more than 2,000 lb of Atlantic herring per trip or day using that gear in the applicable catch cap closure area for the remainder of the fishing year.
Haddock Incidental Catch Caps
- The herring fishery is allocated 1.5 percent of the haddock acceptable biological catch for each stock of haddock (Gulf of Maine (GOM) and Georges Bank (GB)) each multispecies fishing year (May 1 – April 30).
- The haddock incidental catch in the herring fishery is monitored here.
- When the haddock incidental catch cap for a particular haddock stock has been caught:
- Herring vessels fishing with midwater trawl gear may not fish for, possess, or land more than 2,000 lb of herring in that particular haddock accountability measure area (GOM or GB) for the remainder of the multispecies fishing year.
- Herring vessels fishing with midwater trawl gear may not possess haddock in that particular haddock accountability measure area for the remainder of the multispecies fishing year.
- All vessels that have a Category A or B Herring permit on a declared herring trip may not possess haddock in that particular haddock accountability measure area for the remainder of the multispecies fishing year..
- A vessel can possess haddock after the catch cap has been caught, provided the vessel possesses a Northeast multispecies permit and is operating on a declared Northeast multispecies trip.