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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Anglers seek trawler buffer zone as Atlantic herring stock declines

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Monday, March 18, 2024   

Recreational fishermen in New England say commercial trawlers are threatening the survival of smaller businesses relying on a healthy stock of Atlantic herring.

The small forage fish is vital to both the marine food chain and the region's economy.

Rich Hittinger, first vice president of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, said years of overfishing depleted the population and continue to have negative effects on the ocean ecosystem.

"The predator fish, like the striped bass, they're scrounging for anything that they can eat," Hittinger observed. "And we often see fish that are long and thin because they're really not getting sufficient nutrition."

Hittinger noted anglers want the New England Fishery Management Council to reestablish a 12-mile offshore buffer zone to force large commercial trawlers out to sea and reduce conflicts with businesses closer to shore. The council is accepting public comments through April.

For more than a decade, New England anglers worked to amend the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan to protect inshore areas from the effects of industrial trawling, which can ensnare massive amounts of marine life in football field-size nets. But a previous buffer zone was vacated in 2022 after a court determined the depletion of Atlantic herring could not be scientifically proven.

Jaclyn Higgins, forage fish program manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said just 20% of a healthy Atlantic herring stock remains.

"We're hoping that we can really pinpoint what kind of spatial and temporal restrictions need to be put in place," Higgins explained. "So that we can come to a better compromise with managing the fishery."

Higgins pointed out charter businesses, bait and tackle shops, marinas, even whale-watching operators are all dependent on Atlantic herring. She added it is important their voices be heard as regulators consider new ways to manage the population and ensure all entities have access to this small but significant fish.

Disclosure: The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Environment, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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