Herring, mackerel and other small schooling fish are food for the whole ecosystem, including marine mammals, birds, and larger fish like tuna and striped bass. But the expansion of industrial-scale fishing is jeopardizing these key prey species and the marine environments and coastal communities they support.
Now that it's the middle of May, we're beginning to hear reports on the river herring runs around New England. Counters have been counting, cameras have been recording, and the annual spring migration of alewives up the streams has likely peaked, at least in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. It was a slow start to the season, with our unseasonably cold temperatures in March, but optimism prevailed throughout April. Now we're hearing reports that the numbers are off, even way off, in some rivers.
Ocean predators like whales, tuna and seabirds make annual migrations, travelling long distances to find the food they need to survive and to raise their young. Their meal of choice is a swirling school of small nutrient-rich fish, like herring and sand lance. But what if they arrived at their usual buffet, and found nothing there? Or what if a different fish was there instead, but less nutritious or the wrong size?
Emily Yehle, E&E reporter
Published: Thursday, January 29, 2015
The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering a framework that would allow the fishing industry to partially pay for onboard observers on the East Coast, filling in the gaps of the federal budget.
The "omnibus amendment" is still winding its way through the New England and Mid-Atlantic fishery management councils and will likely undergo changes before it makes it to the agency's desk. But the underlying idea has broad support: Allow industry to pay for the days at sea of needed observers, who collect data and monitor bycatch.