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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Herring fishery may be shut down

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 11/27/05

The end of the era of using live river herring for striped bass bait may be approaching faster than most New Jersey anglers realize.
The fishery was shut down in North Carolina and Connecticut earlier, and now Massachusetts is following suit. Rhode Island is considering a shutdown.

The biomass of bluebacks and alewives is in trouble, and fisheries management officials are turning to the recreational sector for relief.

The river herring population has been slipping for 20 years, but the real collapse began in 1999 and 2000 and has picked up speed since then.

Biologists with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, said the river herring run last spring was pitiful.

They found that in the Mattapoisett River, the number of river herring dropped from nearly a quarter of a million fish to 5,000, and in the Merrimack River, only 99 herring were counted.

Biologists and management officials list a variety of reasons why the river herring runs have been so poor: predation by striped bass, bluefish and spiny dogfish; heavy spring rains that discourage entry into creeks, rivers and flumes, and degradation of fresh waters from nutrients and runoff.

Recreational fishermen have another suspicion: The mixing of river herring and sea herring on the offshore grounds creates a situation where the river species is vulnerable to mid-water trawling. Sea herring stocks are not in trouble, and these fish are a marketable product.

Scientists acknowledge that there is mixing of the stocks, and the fish are caught in the nets, but they are unwilling to claim that all of the blame lies with commercial fishermen.

The Massachusetts plan is to prohibit the taking of river herring in all of its state waters and to disallow the use of river herring for bait. It is not addressing the bycatch of river herring in the offshore mid-water trawl fishery.

Joe Pallotto, president of the Asbury Park Fishing Club, began fishing live herring as bait for bass years ago, and he has watched the run in Deal Lake decline from tens of thousands of fish to a handful.

"The water used to be black with them," he said. "Now there's practically nothing."

The New Jersey possession limit on river herring is 35 fish, dip nets can be no larger than 24 inches in diameter and bait seines can be no longer than 50 feet.

Furthermore, it is illegal to take river herring (or other fish) from Deal Lake flume, Lake Takanassee spillway or the Wreck Pond flume on any Monday, Wednesday or Friday during April and May.

"We were screaming about the decreasing number of herring a long time ago," Pallotto said. "We started going to Trenton (the Delaware River) to get herring, but then they closed that down ? barricaded the area ? and, unless you had a boat, you couldn't get any there."

Pallotto said he gave up his herring holding pen in the river two years ago, and has turned to big plugs and bunkers for bass.

"Live herring fishing hasn't been good, anyway," he said. "You just catch little fish on herring now in the spring. I wouldn't feel bad if they closed the fishery temporarily to bring the stocks back.

"The trouble is, I don't know if they'll ever be able to bring them back," he said. "If they don't do anything about the netters, I can't see how closing the recreational fishery will do any good."

The New England Fishery Management Council held a hearing in Cape May recently to discuss sea herring management, and there was no discussion about management of river herring.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's shad and river herring management board met Nov. 2 in Galloway, and, again, there was no meaningful discussion about the dwindling river herring population.

The board reviewed a proposal submitted by Virginia to allow the landing of shad bycatch of up to 20 fish per day in certain fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
 

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Kind of like blaming bunker troubles on me castnetting at my marina...
 

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Surfrat:
Yep, different herring species. The ones in the inlet are Atlantic Herring ("sea herring", as they are called in the article), and they are not in trouble (obviously).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If I remember correctly the Herring Run reports where not that great back in March and April of this year.
Maybe it was that dam Beluga Whale that came up the Del.Rv and ate all the Herring...
 

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Yea..what kind of environmental mess up was all the big D flooding we had? I would assume that it had to mess up some of the herring/shad run....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Here is one of the better references on the Atlantic Herring I have found - Check It Out.

Herring Biology
CLICK HERE
 

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The run in Mays Landing doesn't seem to be as strong as it used to be for Bluebacks and Alewives. Maybe it has something to do with the mobscene up there every spring, maybe not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

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Speaking of the oil spill in the Del. Guess how much oil they have recovered to date?

850 gallons

That leaves 249, 150 gallons left for them to clean off the river bottom. Just heard this on the radio today.

The herring and stripers in the river this year were way off - may be the oil had something to do with this.

[ 11-29-2005, 08:53 PM: Message edited by: Ardmore Bill ]
 

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Coldest march on record.
9 to 12 inches of rain in the deleware basin over a 3 day period starting april 2nd and just as the waters were clearing almost 2 weeks later that Damb Beluga showed up eating herring and causing the river to be closed to all boaters in prime sections for brief periods of time.

The herring did show albeit late but is that realy a surprise considering the weather .
The oil is a mess but it had no efect on the migrants up around trenton. They showed up on cue.
No, it wasn't the best year for herring but it wasn't bad either just late.

As far as the regs are concerned, i'm staying out of that conversation for now.
 

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Predator / Prey. If We catch a basket of them a year that would be a lot. Ya can't blame the nets on this one boys.

The ecosystem is way out of whack. That what the marine fisheries council needs to address.
 
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