Atlantic Herring Plan Overview

The Atlantic herring fishery is managed through an overall annual catch limit (ACL), which is reduced from the overfishing limit and acceptable biological catch to address scientific uncertainty and management uncertainty. The ACL is divided into sub-ACLs for management areas in a manner to prevent overfishing on individual stock components. ACLs and sub-ACLs are set through a specifications process every two years. Atlantic herring is overfished, but overfishing is not occurring. Atlantic herring is in a rebuilding plan.

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Plan Amendments, Frameworks, and Specifications

Plan Amendments

Under Development
September 28, 2023
The Council is proposing to take action through Amendment 10 to address spatial and temporal allocation and management of Atlantic herring at the management unit level to minimize user conflicts, contribute to optimum yield, and support rebuilding of the resource. The Council also is proposing to take action to enhance river herring (alewife and blueback herring) and shad (American shad and hickory shad) avoidance and other catch reduction measures to better support ongoing coastwide restoration efforts for those species.
June 25, 2021
This Amendment is part of the Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment.
January 11, 2021
This Amendment proposes a long-term Acceptable Biological Catch control rule for the Atlantic herring fishery and proposes measures to address potential localized depletion and user conflicts with predators of herring and other user groups.
February 7, 2020
This Amendment is part of the Omnibus Industry-Funded Monitoring Amendment and Environmental Assessment.
June 30, 2015
This action establishes standards of precision for bycatch estimation for all Northeast Region fisheries.
March 25, 2013
Amendment 5 was developed to: Improve the collection of real-time, accurate catch information; enhance the monitoring and sampling of catch at-sea; and address bycatch issues through responsible management.
March 2, 2011
This amendment brings the FMP into compliance with new Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) requirements by: revising definitions and the specifications-setting process consistent with annual catch limit (ACL) requirements; and establishing fishery closure thresholds, a haddock incidental catch cap, and overage paybacks as accountability measures (AMs). In addition, the amendment: designates herring as a ‘‘stock in the fishery;’’ establishes an interim acceptable biological catch (ABC) control rule; and makes adjustments to the specification process by eliminating consideration of total foreign processing (JVPt), including joint venture processing (JVP) and internal waters processing (IWP). It also eliminates reserve from the specifications process and eliminates the Council’s consideration of total allowable level of foreign fishing (TALFF).
April 9, 2018
This action implements approved regulations for the New England Fishery Management Council’s Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2.
February 27, 2008
Part of SBRM. NMFS is implementing approved management measures contained in the Standardized Bycatch Reporting
June 1, 2007
Amendment 1 establishes a limited access program. Amendment 1 also includes the following measures: An open access incidental catch permit; a change in the management area boundaries; establishment of a purse seine/fixed gear-only area; establishment of a maximum sustainable yield (MSY) proxy; an approach to determining the distribution of area-specific Total Allowable Catches (TACs); a multi-year specifications process; a research quota set-aside for herring-related research; a set-aside for fixed gear fisheries; a change in the midwater trawl gear definition; and additional measures that could be implemented through the framework adjustment process. Also, NMFS informs thepublic of the approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the collection-ofinformation requirements contained in this final rule and publishes the OMB control numbers for these collections.

Framework Adjustments/Specifications

June 27, 2024
UPDATE: On June 27, 2024, the New England Fishery Management Council voted to “discontinue development” of the Northern Edge framework, citing the following rationale.
March 23, 2023
This action includes specifications for the 2023-2025 Atlantic herring fishing years.
February 5, 2024
This omnibus action establishes a new Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC) in Southern New England through framework adjustments to the groundfish, scallop, monkfish, skate, and Atlantic herring plans.
July 19, 2022
This action contains measures to develop a rebuilding plan for Atlantic herring and adjust herring accountability measures (AMs).
April 1, 2021
This action includes 2021-2023 fishing year specifications and adjustments to herring measures that may inhibit the Atlantic mackerel fishery from achieving its optimum yield.
Under Development
September 23, 2019
​This action contains measures to protect spawning adult herring on Georges Bank.​
May 6, 2020
This framework contains updated overfishing/overfished definitions, fishery specifications for FY2019-2021, and a temporary prohibition on carryover of unharvested herring catch.
May 19, 2020
Omnibus Clam Dredge Framework
February 8, 2019
This action implements in-season adjustment for 2018 and 2019 to prevent overfishing of the herring resource and lower the risk of the stock becoming overfished.
December 1, 2016
NMFS is implementing final specifications and management measures for the 2016–2018 Atlantic herring fishery.
February 26, 2015
Framework 4 was developed to further enhance catch monitoring and address discarding in the herring fishery.
July 8, 2014
NMFS implements final regulations to establish a process for setting river herring (alewife and blueback) and shad (American and hickory) catch caps for the herring fishery.
September 30, 2013
NMFS is implementing Framework Adjustment 2 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan (Framework 2) and the 2013–2015 fishery specifications for the Atlantic herring fishery (2013–2015 specifications).
February 16, 2010
NMFS announces final specifications for the 2010–2012 fishing years for the Atlantic herring (herring) fishery. The intent of this final rule is to conserve and manage the herring resource and provide for a sustainable fishery. This final rule also makes minor corrections to existing regulations.
January 24, 2002
This final rule modifies the annual specification of herring quota for Management Area 1A by establishing two quota periods.