5.08.2006

River herring swim free -- or do they?

At one time, the only people you'd see catching alewifes along the Charles were immigrants and a few catch-and-release fishermen, but in recent years an ugly trend emerged: Commercial fishermen who would come with giant tanks and nets, scoop up all the fish they could, assumedly for bait or even resale.

The Mass Division of Marine Fisheries finally cracked down, making this announcement last November:
Three-Year River Herring Moratorium on Harvest, Possession, & Sale (322 CMR 6.17):
In response to recent drastic declines of many river herring spawning runs, the harvest, possession or sale of river herring in the Commonwealth or in the waters under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth by any person is prohibited through 2008. To accommodate the bait harvesting fisheries, the MFAC approved a slight tolerance (up to 5%, by count, of a batch of fish may be
comprised of river herring species)
There are now notices all along the river telling people of the new rules. Unfortunately the division website doesn't say who should be contacted if you see a violation, and it's unclear from the announcement what the penalties are for breaking the rules.

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