Public comment requested at Herring Hearing

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CHATHAM — After more than a year of effort by Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance staff, commercial fishermen, and others, protections for sea herring and their cousins river herring are back on the table.
The New England Fishery Management Council is developing regulations fot Atlantic herring to minimize “user conflicts, contribute to optimum yield and support rebuilding of the resource.” The Council is also proposing to take action to enhance protections of river herring and shad.

With herring at only 20 percent of the rebuilding target, comments from the public are essential, said John Pappalardo, chief executive officer of the Fishermen’s Alliance and a member of the council.

“One way to look at optimum yield is it requires that management measures also account for users of the resource that rely on herring’s availability in the ecosystem – not just how much the midwater trawlers can take without overfishing,” said Pappalardo.

Midwater trawlers, sweeping up everything in their paths with nets the size of football fields, catch millions of pounds of herring. Since herring are a forage fish and food for everything from tuna to terns, when they are gone the ecosystem’s food web fractures and many species leave the area.
The midwater trawl problem is something Pappalardo, with commercial fishermen and concerned residents across the Cape, has been trying to address for close to 20 years.

In 2019, with support from every selectboard on the Cape as well as Barnstable County and others, the Fishermen’s Alliance successfully convinced NOAA to put a buffer zone in place that pushed midwater trawlers 20 miles offshore. The buffer zone was overturned by a judge in 2022.
Pappalardo said it’s crucial people testify to the economic, ecological, and social value of herring to the Cape.

“People should come out and talk about the impact of the midwater trawls,” Pappalardo said. “Talk about the role herring plays in their lives – whether they fish for tuna commercially or striped bass recreationally, or count river herring.
“If nobody shows at this meeting it will be really hard to do anything.”

Public hearing is Wednesday, March 27, 6 to 8 p.m. Hampton Inn, 12 Kendall Rae Place, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532

For more information, call or email Communications Officer Doreen Leggett, 508-887-3224,


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