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River herring formerly supported significant commercial and recreational fisheries throughout their range. Fisheries were traditionally executed in rivers, estuaries, and coastal waters using weirs, traps, dip nets and gillnets. Currently, river herring are harvested by directed commercial and recreational fisheries in some state waters. Commercial and recreational fishing in state waters is authorized through a sustainable fisheries management plan as required under Amendment 2, adopted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) in 2009, prohibited commercial and recreational river herring fisheries in state waters as of January 1, 2012, unless a state or jurisdiction develops and receives approval for a sustainable fisheries management plan (SFMP). To date, SFMPs have been approved for Maine, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina. There are also incidental catches and discarding of river herring in state waters, but little is known regarding the extent of this activity.

While there are no directed commercial or recreational fisheries for river herring in Federal waters, river herring are incidentally harvested in commercial fisheries for other species using midwater trawl gear, small mesh bottom trawl gear,and large mesh gillnet gear. Commercial fisheries in Federal waters are managed by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Councils (NEFMC and MAFMC, respectively), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) through the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). River herring are also harvested in Canada and managed by Department Fisheries and Ocean through the Fisheries Act. Additional specifics can be found at Ongoing Monitoring and Management.

Filling totes with river herring in Maine.  Picture credit: Julia Beaty.

The river herring Technical Expert Working Group (TEWG) Fisheries Subgroup has considered issues related to the above specific to the impacts from state and federal fisheries rangewide. Additional information on these discussions, including identified data gaps and conservation ideas to inform the topic and ongoing efforts can be found at: