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DEPT. OF MARINE RESOURCES
Atlantic Herring Biology and Research
The Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) is the most important pelagic fishery resource in the state of Maine. It is also an important forage species for predators such as seabirds, marine mammals, and a variety of larger fish species.
The Department of Marine Resources is responsible for monitoring the status of the Maine herring fishery and works in cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service to assess the status of the U.S. Atlantic coast herring stock, which extends from Virginia to New Brunswick. DMR biologists process herring samples obtained from the commercial fishery and compile landings and catch statistics provided by the fishermen and the herring industry. This information is combined with trawl survey abundance indices to estimate stock size and to provide advice for management purposes. These assessments indicate that the entire Atlantic coast stock complex of herring is very large and under-utlilized, but stock size is believed to be much larger offshore on Georges Bank than it is in the Gulf of Maine where most of the fishing takes place.
DMR staff have also conducted acoustic surveys (below) on spawning aggregations of herring in the Gulf of Maine in recent years. These surveys are designed to determine the distribution and abundance of adult herring while they are on their respective spawning grounds and thereby provide more direct and useful information to managers which will allow them to protect individual spawning populations of herring in the Gulf of Maine.
For more information, contact Matt Cieri.
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