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December 12, 2017

New rules proposed for herring fishery, a prime source of lobster bait

The New England Fishery Management Council has released a new suite of proposed rules for the Atlantic herring fishery, which is a prime bait source for Maine's lobster industry.

The Ellsworth American reported that the proposed changes would cover two main issues:

  • Establishment of a long-term acceptable biological catch for the fishery, which is used to help set sustainable annual catch limits.
  • How to deal with local issues, such as conflicts among fisheries and depletion of the herring stock in a particular locale.

Regulators, who plan to host public hearings on the proposals, did not outline specifics of proposals under consideration. NEFMC typically identifies preferred alternatives before sending proposed rules out to the public.

NEFMC said it anticipated the proposals would generate "a large degree of public engagement during the hearings," which will begin after the first of the year.

The proposed plan comes on the heels of a drop in landings and a rise in the price of herring. In 2016, fishermen landed more than 77 million pounds of herring in Maine, compared with 103.5 million pounds three year ago. The price increased 57% between 2014 and 2016.

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