Atlantic herring is one of the primary bait sources used by Maine’s lobster fishery.
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced today that NOAA Fisheries has awarded Maine $7,191,787 to provide disaster assistance for the state’s struggling Atlantic herring fishery. NOAA Fisheries will work with the Maine Department of Marine Resources to administer these funds.
In 2020, Senator Collins sent a letter to the Commerce Department in support of Governor Janet Mills’ request for a declaration of fishery failure for Maine’s Atlantic herring fishery.
“The drastic reduction in Atlantic herring quotas has caused significant losses in primary income and threatened job security for many in the herring industry,” said Senator Collins. “Given the unstable status of our Atlantic herring fishery, and its role in supporting Maine’s iconic lobster industry, I advocated for the State of Maine’s commercial fishery failure declaration request. This financial assistance provided through the designation is crucial to the survival of Maine’s Atlantic herring fishery.”
The 2018 stock assessment for Atlantic herring highlighted a total population reduction of more than 70 percent within a five-year span. Given these results, catch limits have been reduced by more than 80 percent, significantly decreasing the value of herring landed at Maine ports. Moreover, during the 2019 season, there were only nine weeks where Atlantic herring was landed, compared to 29 weeks in 2017.