Protecting Atlantic herring

Sustaining Atlantic herring populations through examining alternative fishery methods

Amanda Hart, Gavin Fay, Atlantic herring, SMAST
Graduate student Amanda Hart (left) and SMAST professor Gavin Fay (right) translate qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate sustainable fishery strategies.

By Adrienne Wartts

Atlantic herring are important to the New England economy and the marine ecosystem, which makes the fisheries management strategies that sustain fish populations vital.

To that end, the New England Fishery Management Council reached out to the fishing industry, scientists, non-governmental organizations, and members of the public to examine alternatives for managing the Atlantic herring fishery.

The council then hired Gavin Fay, assistant professor of fisheries oceanography at SMAST, and graduate student Amanda Hart to review the results of the stakeholder workshops and statistical and computer modeling analyses, which were part of the Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE).

“We were tasked with translating this data into something that the council and stakeholders would find meaningful and would be reflective of the stakeholder analysis,” said Hart. 

Hart, who produced narratives, decision tables, and visual aids, said the overall goal of the MSE was to assist council members as they compared management options and to communicate findings to stakeholders.

Fay said that MSEs are considered the gold standard for making fisheries management decisions, and this was the first, large-scale evaluation in New England. A focus is on “coming up with a control rule for herring—a way to decide what the quota should be, which hopefully is based on what’s good for employment, the fishing community, and also recognizes the role of herring as food in the ecosystem,” he said.

More information: School for Marine Science & Technology

Departments Fisheries Oceanography Dept, Features - Magazine, Research, School for Marine Science and Technology