Herring Amendment to Address Monitoring and River Herring
by Laurie Schreiber
For the development of Amendment 5 to herring management plan, the New England Fisheries Management Council agreed at their September meeting to focus on monitoring programs for the herring fleet; the protection of river herring populations that are taken as bycatch in the fishery, including the establishment of a catch cap on river herring bycatch; and measures to protect Atlantic herring when they aggregate in New England waters to spawn.
In doing so, the council significantly reduced the range of options under consideration and clarified its intent concerning Herring Committee work over the next four months.
Herring committee chairman Doug Grout told the council that his committee’s opinion was that the document needed to be tightened up in order to load it out in a timely manner to the public.
Among the measures eliminated altogether or modified were methods of tracking the herring catch and other species taken in the fishery.
A year ago, said fishery management plan coordinator Lori Steele, the council identified catch monitoring as a top priority, followed by river herring bycatch, trawler access to groundfish closed areas, interactions with the mackerel fishery, and measures to protect spawning fish.
“I think right at the moment we’re trying to solve too many problems at once and the result is we’re not solving any,” said council member David Goethel, in agreeing with the idea of paring the issues to be addressed in A5.
“I don’t think this document is anywhere near ready for prime time,” said Terry Stockwell, a staffer with the Maine Depart- ment of Marine Resources and one of Maine’s two representatives on the council. “If we eliminate issues because they’re not done, I believe we’ll have an incomplete document. I think the committee needs to continue to work on the issues that are still outstanding.”
Gary Libby, president of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association in Port Clyde, asked the council not to pare the amendment.
“What happened was the ‘yes’s got worked on and fleshed out,” said Libby. “Pretty much for all the ‘no’s and ‘not sure’s – the time ran out, so they didn’t get the attention they should have got. To put them all out of the document is chopping them up.”
Amendment 5 will be considered further at the council’s January 2011 meeting.