Washington, D.C. —Maine’s seafood sector has already experienced severe financial harm due to COVID-19-related disruptions, and the decline in New England’s herring population in recent years indicates that this fishery is in a particularly volatile state.
To provide disaster assistance for this struggling industry, U.S. Senator Susan Collins sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in support of Governor Janet Mills’ recent 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,” wrote Senator Collins. “Given the unstable status of our Atlantic herring fishery, and its role in supporting Maine’s iconic lobster industry, I support the State of Maine’s commercial fishery failure declaration request. It is unclear how Maine’s Atlantic herring fishery will survive another season without immediate financial assistance.”
Atlantic herring is currently one of the primary bait sources used by Maine’s lobster 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.
Click HERE to read the full letter.