At 165 feet long, herring trawlers are the largest vessels on the East Coast. The nets are the size of a football field, catching millions of pounds of unintended catch every year, like endangered bluefin tuna, river herring, shad, cod, whales, dolphins, and seabirds.
These industrial ships undermine the river herring, which is essential to animals like striped bass and osprey. River herring are in danger – and are currently being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Now is your opportunity to stand up against industrial fishing. The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) is currently accepting comments on a new set of rules that could bring greater accountability and oversight to this fishing fleet.
Take Action! Tell the government to close loopholes that allow industrial fishing to damage the ocean’s health.
Send a clear message today that you want meaningful reform to support a healthy, productive and sustainable ocean environment for everyone.
The NEFMC needs comments by April 9th! Please take action now!
- Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council
I am writing to express my concern about poorly managed industrial fishing and the damage it inflicts on the ocean ecosystem, especially to river herring. Populations of these fish have declined by 99 percent and are so depleted they are being considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Most Atlantic states now prohibit the harvest of river herring in coastal waters, even to the point of prohibiting children from netting one for bait. Yet astoundingly, no protections have been extended to these fish in the open ocean, where they are taken by the millions as profitable bycatch by industrial herring ships.
This is unacceptable and represents a significant setback in the ongoing efforts to restore alewife and blueback herring. Every year, states and communities throughout New England invest significant time and resources to restore their river herring runs. Many tireless citizens carefully shepherd migrating river herring past in-river obstacles by hand. The council must support, not undermine, these efforts.
As the council finalizes its revision to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan, I strongly urge you to approve a comprehensive monitoring and bycatch reduction program that incorporates the following management actions:
-Immediate implementation of a catch limit, or cap, on the total amount of river herring caught in the Atlantic herring fishery (Section 3.3.5).
-100 percent at-sea monitoring on all midwater trawl fishing trips in order to provide reliable estimates of all catch, including bycatch of depleted river herring and other marine life (Section 22.214.171.124 Alternative 2).
-An accountability system to discourage the wasteful slippage or dumping of catch, including a fleet-wide allowance of five slippage events for each herring management area, after which any slippage event would require a return to port (Section 126.96.36.199 Option 4D).
-No herring midwater trawling in areas established to promote rebuilding of groundfish populations (Section 3.4.4 Alternative 5).
-A requirement to accurately weigh and report all catch (Section 3.1.5 Option 2).
Thank you for considering my comments and for your continued commitment to improving management of the Atlantic herring fishery.
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