Atlantic herring migrate in schools to areas where they feed, spawn, and spend the winter. Herring form the base of the food web as a forage fish for marine mammals, seabirds and many fish throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Fish illustration by Laury Zicari, USFWS, Retired, Alosa pseudoharengus (alewife) Alosa aestivalis (blueback herring). Alewife and blueback herring use the same rivers, but alewife migrations happen earlier. Blueback herring prefer spawning over rocks in fast-moving water during daylight. After adjusting for the research set-aside, the 30 mt fixed gear set-aside, and the 8% buffer (Area 1A closes at 92% of the sub-ACL), the Area 1A sub-annual catch limit (sub-ACL) is 6.8 million pounds (3,076 mt). Schools can produce so many eggs that the ocean bottom is covered in a dense carpet of eggs several centimeters thick. Catch in the Atlantic herring fishery increased in the 1960s, peaking in 1986 at 477,767 mt (1.05 billion pounds), largely due to a foreign fishery which developed on Georges Bank. These changes to spawning protections are in response to the results of the 2018 Benchmark Stock Assessment which showed reduced levels of recruitment and spawning stock biomass over the past five years, including the lowest levels of recruitment on record. Accordingly, the Board is expected to consider specifications for the 2021-2023 seasons once a final rule has been published by NOAA Fisheries. The assessment also indicates recruitment estimates are highly variable but have remained at low levels from 2013-2019, which introduces an additional source of uncertainty in short-term projections. Products from Canada’s herring fishery are destined for markets in Japan, the United States, and the Do… While the plans for state and federal waters share management boundaries, there are a few differences between the plans. Adults (age three and older) migrate south from summer and fall spawning grounds in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank to spend the winter in Southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Schooling herring serve as an important prey resource for migrating whale and dolphin populations on which eco-tourism activities, such as whale watching, depend. They feed on copepods, krill and small fish, while their natural predators are seals, whales, cod and other larger fish. The Amendment refines the spawning closure system and modifies the fixed gear set-aside. Alewife is the preferred bait for lobstermen. Since 2000, the ex-vessel value of commercial herring landings has averaged about $30 million/year. The young fish stay in freshwater until they grow large enough to start their journey in late-summer and fall to the estuary where the salt and freshwater mix, and then slowly out to sea where they join large schools of other alewives or blueback herring migrating along the Atlantic Coast. Many coastal rivers along the East Coast supported huge river herring runs. Actual closure effective dates are determined using the GSI-based forecast system. Females produce 60,000 to 350,000 eggs, but only a few young fish survive to spawn 3 to 5 years later. Rogers readily acknowledges that herring may rely on multiple cues, and that the adopted migration hypothesis needs empirical study. Spawning is very stressful and makes them vulnerable to being eaten. The commercial herring fishery in New England developed in the late 19th century, spurred by the development of the canning industry. The Commission plan includes spawning closures and a “days out” provision. We are even eaten by whales! In April 2019, the Board approved Addendum II to strengthen spawning protections in Area 1A (inshore Gulf of Maine) by initiating a closure when a lower percentage of the population is spawning (from approximately 25% to 20%), and extending the closure for a longer time (from four weeks to six weeks). Herring are filter feeders preying entirely on plankton. They generally spawn in summer in estuaries, coastal waters of in offshore banks. The rest get eaten by other fish and animals. Our numbers became so low we were almost endangered, but we are beginning to recover in a few rivers. It is one of the most abundant fish species in the world. The GSI-based spawning monitoring system tracks reproductive maturity to align the timing of spawning area closures with the onset of spawning. The BRPs were estimated using only the selectivity from the U.S. mobile fleet because the proportion of catch from the fixed gear fleet has increased significantly in recent years. Juveniles (called sardines) undergo seasonal inshore-offshore migrations. The New England Fishery Management Council is scheduled to review the assessment results in September, and will consider fishery specifications for 2021-2023 at that time. Eastern Maine Spawning Closure in Effect August 28 - October 8, Western Maine and Massachusetts/New Hampshire Spawning Closure in Effect Starting September 23 through November 3, Phone: 703-842-0740      Fax: 703-842-0741     1050 N. Highland Street, Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201, 2020 Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission | All rights reserved. They are also a valued commodity overseas where they are frozen and salted. They usually feed at night following the massive vertical migrations of zooplankton that inhabit deep waters by day and surface waters by night. As female fish get ready to spawn, their ovaries become heavier and the GSI increases. The females generally lay between 20,000 and 40,000 eggs per spawning. Herring spawn as early as August in Nova Scotia and eastern Maine and during October and November in the southern Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, and Nantucket Shoals. Scientists use the observed rate of increase in the GSI to predict when spawning will occur and when the fishery should be closed. The lobster fishery developed about the same time, creating a market for herring as bait. Atlantic herring are one of the most abundant fish species on earth, living in the open ocean and gathering in large schools. We both are 10 to 12 inches long, and weigh 0.5 pounds. River herring runs used to turn some rivers “silver” each spring when they migrated by the millions upstream. They can grow up to 45 centimetres (18 in) in length and weigh up to 1.1 kilograms (2.4 lb). GSI stands for gonadosomatic index, the ratio of the weight of a female herring’s ovaries to her body weight. We have sharply-angled bony scutes on our belly that feel like a saw. The alewife (top) has a slightly larger eye than the blueback herring (bottom). The long awaited Atlantic herring migration with bigger striped bass on them has finally happened, but at the present time it is taking place outside the state legal three mile line. We are silvery in color with a single black spot just behind our eye, and alewife have a larger eye. They can live up to 15 years. Government agencies are working to prevent overfishing out at sea, and are removing obstacles, like dams, so we can migrate back to our home rivers to spawn new generations of alewife and blueback herring. We are thin or compressed from side to side, but long from our dorsal to ventral (belly) sides, and we both have a forked tail.

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