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Uncovering America's methamphetamine history; PA Early Intervention programs vital for child development; measuring long-term impact of the O.J. Simpson trial on media literacy.

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President Biden's name could be left off the ballot in Alabama and Ohio, the Justice Dept. mandates background checks for gun show purchases, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds moves to allow state police to arrest undocumented migrants.

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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

New England anglers seek greater protections for Atlantic herring stock

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Thursday, March 21, 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 are scrounging for anything that they can eat," Hittinger observed. "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 comment 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 couldn't 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 so that we can come to a better compromise with managing the fishery," Higgins explained.

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