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Conclusions and Looking Forward

There has been much progress by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), and our partners to further river herring conservation and address data gaps through a coordinated coastwide effort.  This Conservation Plan is intended to increase public awareness about river herring, stimulate cooperative research efforts, and inform efforts to conserve the species through the following goals:  

  1. Increase coordination of river herring research and conservation
  2. Identify key research needs for assessment and conservation
  3. Identify conservation actions to address threats
  4. Cultivate research groups to address key topics
  5. Identify funding sources for river herring research and conservation
  6. Further conservation efforts to address threats
  7. Improve information to be used in the next assessment
  8. Improve information used in conservation efforts
  9. Increase outreach about river herring

 

Although the plan is in the early stages of development a number of important outcomes have occurred relative to achieving the goals and the progress is a result of both the plan and related initiatives.


Picture credit: Jerry Prezioso, NOAA

The projects NMFS and ASMFC funded through the River Herring Request for Proposals are important to highlight. Additional information will be shared on the status of these projects as the information is available.

It is important to establish goals to show success in restoring river herring through improving the status of river herring throughout much of its Atlantic coastal range. With more information, these goals can be refined in collaboration with our partners so that we can obtain indicators for restoration (e.g., fish, watershed health) in the future. Progress on the goals to date show a commitment to increase coordination with partners, as well as obtain and improve data collection information on river herring.  

River herring are a critical component on the ecosystem, and serve as an important forage species for key commercial fisheries such as groundfish. Additionally, based on the coastwide range and many threats river herring face, conservation of river herring must be looked at holistically. It is essential to avoid duplication of effort, as well as to make the most use of limited resources. For example, it is important to capitalize on conservation and research efforts for other species  (e.g., shad, Atlantic salmon, Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon) that  will also benefit river herring.  

Implementation

NMFS and ASMFC are committed to furthering progress on river herring in collaboration with our partners. We have reviewed the products from the TEWG, public comment, as well as our own science and management needs are committing to the following in 2015:

Looking Forward

Although there have been many successes to fill-in data gaps and conserve river herring, numerous challenges remain. NMFS and ASMFC have factored in specific management and science needs to develop research priorities

These research needs are intended as a resource for NMFS and ASMFC, as well as partners, including fishery management councils, state agencies, fishery management organizations, non-profit organizations, scientists, academic institutions, and industry. Research can be integrated in management and should inform and improve current and future conservation efforts. These needs and priorities may also assist our partners in the development of proposal ideas when funding opportunities arise. Efforts will continue to increase outreach, both internally and externally, to help leverage funds and increase awareness of priority needs.

This plan will be monitored and evaluated to determine success in achieving the goals. Additionally, the research needs and goals will evolve over time as we continue to learn about river herring.  River herring restoration is not a single agency effort and it will require commitments from all partners, including the TEWG.   

Further discussion with the TEWG is needed to track and monitor progress of conservation actions and research. Additional input from the TEWG and public on this initial conservation plan will also help refine it. The plan will be continuously monitored and modified as necessary.