Let NMFS Know that You Support Measures to Protect Atlantic Herring’s Role as Forage
DEADLINE: October 21
Last fall, the New England Fishery Management Council adopted groundbreaking measures to conserve Atlantic herring and safeguard its role as prey. Humpback whales, porpoises, seals, puffins, terns, tuna, striped bass, cod, pollock and haddock are just a few in the long list of ocean wildlife that feed on herring.
The action, referred to as Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan, must be approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) before it can go into effect. NMFS is currently seeking comment from the public on whether the agency should approve or disapprove the plan. Wild Oceans needs your help to get Amendment 8 past this final hurdle!
If approved, Amendment 8 will:
1. Establish a long-term acceptable biological catch (ABC) control rule that explicitly accounts for herring’s role in the ecosystem, leaving 20% more herring in the water for predators than the current catch-setting method.
2. Prohibit midwater trawl gear close to shore by establishing a year-round buffer zone stretching from Maine to Connecticut. Midwater trawlers are the largest industrial fishing vessels in the Greater Atlantic. The buffer zone will require these vessels to fish 12-20 miles away from shore to prevent catching too many herring over a short a time span, depleting inshore waters of the forage that predators need.
Public comments are being accepted until October 21, 2019 through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Click the link and complete the form fields to voice your support. Use the following example message or customize one of your own:
I support the New England Fishery Management Council in recognizing the need to conserve Atlantic herring for predators. Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan responds to the calls of thousands of sport fishermen and many others who urged the Council to consider the importance of herring to the wealth of ocean wildlife that depends on herring as a food source.
I strongly support approval of the following measures:
♦ ABC Control Rule: The control rule accounts for herring’s role as forage in the ecosystem while providing for long-term, biologically-sustainable harvest.
♦ Inshore Buffer Zone: Prohibit midwater trawl gear from fishing inside of a buffer zone extending 12-20 nautical miles from shore to prevent localized depletion of herring. This measure recognizes the importance of herring to inshore users of the resource that rely on herring as forage ‒ the striped bass, tuna and cod fishermen who rely on herring to sustain their target predators – and the ecotourism businesses that count on the presence of herring schools to attract whales and seabirds.
I urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to act quickly to approve and implement both of the above measures in Amendment 8, which are designed to work together to safeguard the herring’s ecological role by preserving an abundance of herring as forage and by protecting vulnerable inshore waters from concentrated industrial-scale fishing. A healthy population of herring translates into healthy coastal communities for the New England region.