The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced a statewide moratorium on the harvest of river herring (blueback and alewife herring).
The moratorium follows a 93 percent drop in commercial river herring landings along the Atlantic Coast since 1985. The Maryland commercial harvest of river herring has been falling since the early 1970s when the yearly average was about 700,000 pounds. From 2005 to 2010 the average was just 35,200 pounds.
Prior to the collapse of river herring populations, both species supported fisheries of significant socio-economic value. Maryland is one of several states that are taking action to restore river herring.
River herring and other fish species that travel between Atlantic Coast states from Maine to Florida are managed cooperatively by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).
Every state from Maine to Florida was required to implement a harvest moratorium by January 1, 2012, unless sustainability of their fishery was demonstrated through State-specific management plans.
The new regulations affect bait shops as well as anglers that possess herring for use as bait. Fishermen in possession of river herring as bait will need to have a receipt indicating where the herring was purchased. This will allow bait shops to sell, and fishermen to possess, river herring for bait that was harvested from a State whose fishery remains open, as an ASMFC approved sustainable fishery.
States with open river herring fisheries include New York, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina and North Carolina.
For more information, visit dnr.state.md.us/fisheries.
source: MD DNR