Proposed cut for herring harvest could affect lobster catch

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Fishermen who seek one of the most important bait fish on the East Coast are likely to see a dramatic reduction next year in the amount they are allowed to harvest, and the change could have major implications for lobster consumers. NOAA said it wants to cut the annual catch limit from nearly 110 million pounds this year to less than half that in 2019.

The commercial fishery for herring is a major industry in the Atlantic states, where the little fish is important as lobster bait and is also eaten by people. The fish has been under the microscope of regulators and conservation groups recently after a scientific assessment said earlier this year that the fish's population has fallen in the past five years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it wants to cut the annual catch limit from nearly 110 million pounds (50 million kilograms) this year to less than half that in 2019. The agency said in a statement that the deep cut is needed to "prevent overfishing."

This year's herring quota was also cut back in August. The loss of so much herring will be a challenge for America's lobstermen, who are based mostly in New England, said Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen's Association.

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