This herring travels in groups sometimes numbering in the billions and was caught in the greatest numbers last year in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. New England fishermen caught more than 95,000 metric tons of the fish last year for the first time since 2009, according to federal statistics reported by Patrick Whittle in The Providence Journal, July 13, '15, p. A10.
This was good news for fishermen, right?
|A Herring Catch|
Photo uploaded to public domain by Gentgeen April, '05
Cod and tuna fishermen complain that the herring trawlers have left sections of the ocean bereft of the herring species, which cod and tuna rely on to eat. Whittle quotes Maine tuna fisherman Steve Weiner as saying, "Everything from seabirds to whale-watching boats rely on a steady supply of herring for stability." With strict cod quotas, Cape Cod fishermen are struggling to make a living.
The herring trawlers can be more than 100 feet long and drag 300-foot nets. Environmentalists claim the nets sometimes kill marine mammals, including four pilot whales, three seals, and a dolphin through incidental catch in 2014.
Herring is in high demand because it is the preferred bait for Maine's lobster industry (also reporting record catches in recent years). Herring not used for bait become canned, smoked, pickled, or salted.
According to Whittle, the Northeast has struggled with herring quota cuts as recently as this decade.
Regulating fishing in the area is the New England Fishery Management Council, which will solicit feedback from the industry and the public. "It will be important to develop scientific metrics for localized depletion," said Mary Beth Tooley, who sits on the Council and works for a corporation operating two herring trawlers. "The issue has become political," Tooley said.
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