Alewife and blueback herring are anadromous species and are often regarded collectively as "river herring"
About the Species
Collectively, blueback herring and alewives are known as river herring. River herring are found along the Atlantic coast of North America, from the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada to the southeastern United States. The coastal ranges of the two species overlap. Blueback herring range from Nova Scotia south to the St. Johns River, Florida, and alewives range from Labrador and Newfoundland south to North Carolina, though their occurrence in the extreme southern range is less common.
River herring are anadromous, meaning that they mature in the marine environment and then migrate up coastal rivers to estuaries and into freshwater rivers, ponds, and lake habitats to spawn. In general, adult river herring are found at depths less than 328 feet (ft) (100 meters (m)) in waters along the continental shelf. River herring are highly migratory, pelagic, schooling species with seasonal spawning migrations cued by water temperature.
Conservation and Management
In August 2013, we determined that listing alewife and blueback herring as threatened or endangered under the ESA was not warranted. However, we also noted that there were significant data deficiencies. In that determination, we committed to revisiting the status of both species in three to five years, a period after which ongoing scientific studies, including a river herring stock assessment update by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, would be completed.
In August 2017, we initiated a status review to determine if listing alewife and blueback herring under the ESA as endangered or threatened is necessary.
In June 2019, we completed the status review and determined that listing alewife and blueback herring under the ESA was not warranted.