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Old 08-26-2013, 01:37 PM
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Mark Cahill Mark Cahill is offline
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We Can Restore River Herring Now!

Just posted to homepage...new article by Capt. John McMurray

Quote:
But the Mid Atlantic Council and NOAA Fisheries need to step up

What we can do to Restore River Herring. If you’ve been lucky enough to be there when river herring (bluebacks or alewives) clash with striped bass you know why we call them, “striper candy”. It’s a big bait that attracts big fish, and makes them act really stupid. Of course not only striped bass, but bluefin, yellowfin, cod, bluefish, weakfish and dozens of other predators go nuts over river herring… At least they used to.

Unfortunately, river herring numbers have declined precipitously. While in 2006 NOAA Fisheries listed them as a “Species of Concern”, a 2012 stock assessment recently confirmed river herring are in dire straits. Alewife and bluebacks are anadromous species – spending most of their lives at sea, then ascending unique rivers to spawn. Out of 24 assessed river runs 92% were determined to be badly depleted. A number of runs have dwindled so far that fewer than 100 adults return each spring to spawn. Last year, the National Resources Defense Council submitted a petition to list river herring under the Endangered Species Act, and while NOAA did a full review, they recently issued a statement declining to list, not because they didn’t believe river herring were in trouble, but because they just didn’t have enough data to support it. Which I still don’t understand given the ASMFC assessment and the well-known fact that these fish spend most of their lives at sea. But moving on….

The cause of the decline is heavily debated. There are still those who want to blame a resurgence “ravenous” striped bass, which frankly is silly given the two species’ historical abundance and coexistence, and, well, there aren’t really that many stripers around anymore anyway. No one really argues that pollution and impediments to upriver migrations haven’t played a large part in the decline. Yet despite greatly improving water quality, dam removal, fish passages, and other efforts to restore habitat, not to mention state-imposed moratoria, river herring numbers, at least in the Mid-Atlantic, continue to tank. (Note: there are indeed some runs in New England that appear to be recovering, more on this later).

River herring are managed inshore by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). That body has required most state fisheries to shut down; a few continue, subject to very small quotas, under state sustainable management plans. Yet, at sea, industrial fisheries for sea herring and mackerel are still allowed to kill unlimited amounts of river herring, usually taken as bycatch, and most of that is simply unaccounted for. The building consensus is that a lot, perhaps most, of the mortality is happening at sea.
Read a whole lot more at http://www.reel-time.com/articles/co...river-herring/
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