No result found
In the first half of the 20th century, herring were fished primarily with small-scale, low-impact gear such as weirs and purse seines. But in the 1960s, large foreign fleets equipped with massive trawl nets began catching amounts of herring previously unimaginable. By the late 1970s, the offshore population of Atlantic herring had collapsed. This prompted Congress in 1976 to expel foreign vessels from within 200 miles of U.S. coastal waters under the original Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) is one of the most important fishes in New England. This energy-rich species plays a vital role in the region's marine ecosystem, serving as food for many of the ocean's key predators. Recent research reveals that predators can consume 300,000 tons of herring a year— roughly three times the amount caught by fishermen annually. Given the major role herring play in the food chain, managers need to take into account the needs of predators when setting fishing limits for herring.
Herring play a vital role in the North Atlantic ecosystem—serving as food for tuna, cod, striped bass, seabirds, dolphins and whales. But herring and their predators are threatened by industrial-scale fishing by midwater trawlers. Up to 165 feet in length, these ships are the largest fishing vessels on the East Coast, capable of netting 500,000 pounds of sea life in one tow. Although these vessels fish for Atlantic herring, the fish, birds and marine mammals that feed on herring schools are also vulnerable to accidental capture, injury or death in the trawlers' massive nets.