Fishermen, Environmentalists Concerned as Herring Haul Soars

By Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press
ROCKLAND, Maine - Conservationists and rival fishermen are raising concerns about the high catches of Atlantic herring taking place in New England waters.

The little fish is in high demand in part because of its key role as bait for Maine's lobster industry, which is experiencing record catches in recent years.

Federal statistics show that fishermen caught more than 95,000 metric tons of herring last year. It was the first time they hit that mark since 2009. About half of the fish came to shore in Maine. The state had its second-most productive herring fishing year since 2000.

Regulators are considering whether high herring catches are adversely impacting other fisheries. Some fishermen of species such as cod and tuna say herring trawlers have the ability to deplete localized areas of other fish.