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Herring Alternative 7 focus of public hearing in Maine

November 01, 2005

Commercial Fisheries News
Novemeber 2005
By Melissa Waterman

ROCKPORT, ME Nearly thirty people attended a public hearing on the New England Fishery Management Council’s draft Amendment 1 to the federal Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Interstate FMP for Atlantic Herring at the Samoset Resort here on Oct. 13.

Those who made public comments on the 700-page document included representatives of the herring, lobster, tuna, whale watch, and conservation communities.

They largely spoke in favor of the council’s preferred measure, known as Alternative 7, though described as Option 7 by most of those speaking. Alternative 7 contains the most restrictive criteria for a vessel to qualify for a limited-access permit in each of the federal plan’s management areas. It also would make Area 1A off limits to midwater trawlers during the summertime, from June 1 through Sept. 30 each year.

In addition to the seven alternatives, the draft amendment contains independent measures, which can be mixed and matched with any of the primary alternatives, to address issues such as groundfish bycatch, adjustments to the herring management area boundaries, open-access herring incidental catch permits, and vessel monitoring system requirements.

MLA position

During the development of Amendment 1, which was initiated to set a limited-access plan for the herring fishery, “localized depletion” became an issue, and many people said they were worried about the Gulf of Maine herring stock despite an overall assessment that shows a healthy herring resource.

Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) President David Cousens spoke to that concern, as well as several others, when he gave the MLA position in support of Alternative 7.

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