PORTLAND, ME—Last October, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) drastically constrained the ability of midwater trawlers to fish for herring in offshore waters for a period of more than six months, because the herring fleet had bumped up against its quota for the incidental catch of Georges Bank haddock.

As a result, at its December meeting, the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) heard a request from herring fishery interests to reconsider the level of constraint for the upcoming fishing year of May 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017, and for future years, since Georges Bank haddock appears to be plentiful and, they said, estimates of haddock catches by the herring fleet were inaccurate.

“A seven-month closure of a major fishery is very significant,” said NEFMC member Mary Beth Tooley, who is the government affairs representative for Rockland-based O’Hara Corp., which owns and operates two herring vessels. “We in the herring fishery don’t want to catch haddock. But that biomass is like locusts: They’reunbelievably abundant. It’s two-pronged: Let’s get groundfishermen catching haddock, and not close the herring fishery.”

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