The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) is in the process of developing an amendment to the Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic herring (called Amendment 8).
JRWA recently submitted comments to NEFMC asking for a year-round “buffer zone,” where large herring boats (midwater trawlers) would be banned. This buffer would be in all New England waters, from the coastline out to 50 miles.
Midwater trawling involves towing a large net through the water column. The process can involve one boat or two boats working together (pair trawling), and the nets can stay in the water from 10 minutes to 8 hours. The problem is that the nets catch non-target, or unintended, species such as river herring. Learn more about mid-water trawlers from NOAA →
Many marine predators would benefit from this buffer, including tuna, cod, striped bass, birds, and marine mammals. It would also benefit Atlantic herring and river herring by preventing the localized depletion that happens when midwater trawlers drag nets close to shore. Hotspots for river herring bycatch and Atlantic herring spawning occur in the areas that would be covered by the 50 mi. buffer. This would prevent high levels of bycatch of river herring and protect spawning habitat for Atlantic herring.