Blog Article Focuses on River Herring Protection
August 26, 2011
A “Talking Fish” blog entry by EarthJustice attorney Roger Fleming addresses 2 recent court cases filed by fishermen to protect Northeast runs of river herring, whose numbers have declined precipitously in the last decade.
Here’s an excerpt:
Earlier this month, I wrote about a petition filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council asking the federal government to list river herring as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Fishermen and conservationists, similarly frustrated by the failure of state and federal officials to responsibly manage this public resource, have filed 3 separate federal lawsuits seeking to force more immediate action.
River herring and shad are keystone species in our ocean and coastal river ecosystems. They are food for species like cod, striped bass, tuna, mammals and countless waterfowl. And, as spawning adults, they play a key role in the transfer of nutrients between marine and freshwater environments. Yet, populations of these fish have plummeted on the East Coast.
One important reason for the decline is the fact there are unregulated fisheries for these fish in federal ocean waters (3 or more miles from shore). Industrial trawlers targeting Atlantic herring and mackerel catch millions of river herring and shad each year, which are then either sold with sea herring as bait or discarded at sea dead. Meanwhile, federal and state officials have refused to write management plans that would responsibly monitor these trawlers and set reasonable conservation standards for these fish.