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Awards Support River Herring Research

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and NOAA Fisheries announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) with the availability of approximately a quarter million dollars in federal funds to support the continued development of a coastwide river herring conservation plan.  The RFP closed on November 13, 2014, and a number of research proposals were submitted.

Priority areas for funding included:

  • gathering information/data to help develop performance measures for evaluating the effectiveness of fish passage improvement efforts and habitat restoration;
  • evaluating dam-related river herring mortality due to upriver migration delays, predation, and downstream turbines;
  • impacts of fisheries on river herring and developing ways to reduce those impacts;
  • and documenting life history information on the marine phase of river herring.

Proposals looking at contaminant effects in freshwater systems and trophic interactions such as those between river herring and other fish species (e.g., Atlantic herring, Atlantic mackerel) and predator/prey impacts were also accepted.

Priorities were developed based on individual expert opinion received through the River Herring Technical Expert Working Group (TEWG) and its subgroups, public comment/input provided at the TEWG meetings, and factoring in specific NOAA Fisheries’ river herring management and science needs. This includes NOAA Fisheries’ need to further conservation efforts and address data gaps and uncertainties to help better inform a potential future Endangered Species Act status review for river herring.

The competitive RFP process involved three technical merit reviews by NMFS and ASMFC staff for each proposal submitted.  NOAA and ASMFC staff then discussed the entire package of proposals, scores and reviewer comments with the top two technically ranked proposals being selected for funding.

Funded projects will help address data gaps in freshwater and marine ecosystems in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.  They address priorities related to fish passage effectiveness and habitat restoration needs such as improved understanding of historic and current distribution of alewife and blueback herring spawning habitat; information on the impacts of fisheries on river herring such as through supporting existing state portside sampling programs; and information on the marine phase of alewife and blueback herring such as determination of river origin of catch in non‐targeted ocean fisheries.

For more details on each project, explore the project abstracts.  The two awarded proposals include:

  • The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the University of California- Santa Cruz in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, University of Massachusetts- Amherst, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit on "Linking life stages: marine bycatch mortality, freshwater productivity, and spawning stock recruitment"
  • Barnegat Bay Partnership and Rutgers University on "Determination of extant herring runs in the Barnegat Bay and Raritan River (New Jersey) watersheds"


Picture credit: Jerry Prezioso, NOAA