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Incidental Capture of Shad and River Herring threatens East Coast Fisheries

Shad and Herring

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RvK Urges adoption of measures to monitor and reduce bycatch

American shad and river herring populations are at historic lows coast-wide. In the Hudson River, the shad fishery which dates back to colonial times was recently closed due to dwindling populations, a tragic loss for New York State. River herring populations also are in long term decline.

Bycatch of shad and river herring in ocean fisheries is thought to be a major factor in the continuing decline of these populations. Bycatch occurs when a species which is not the target of the fishery (such as shad) is caught accidentally. As vessels trawl for fish at sea, their gear may also capture these imperiled species. Although bycatch poses a significant threat to the survival and recovery of these species, the problem is mostly unmonitored and unregulated by federal fishery managers.

Riverkeeper believes this incidental capture is impeding population rebuilding efforts for shad and river herring and recently submitted comments urging the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to adopt measures to monitor and reduce bycatch of these species in the small-mesh fisheries it manages. Riverkeeper’s comments called for increased observer coverage on boats, as well as stepped up monitoring and reporting requirements.

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