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River herring

NOAA Fisheries announced today that listing alewife or blueback herring, collectively known as river herring, as either threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act is not warranted at this time. However, the agency has provided funding to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and we will be working with the Commission and other partners to implement a coordinated coast-wide effort to continue to address data gaps and proactively conserve river herring and their habitat.  (Click here to view the Listing Determination in the Federal Register)

“There has been a lot of good work done, especially in the past two years to help protect and restore alewife and blueback herring,” said John Bullard, regional administrator for the Northeast, NOAA Fisheries. “We plan work with our partners to identify and implement effective conservation efforts for river herring populations throughout their range while also supporting further research to fill in important data gaps for these two species.”

NOAA Fisheries intends to establish a technical working group and to continue to work closely with the Commission and others to develop a long-term and dynamic conservation plan for river herring throughout both species’ range from Canada to Florida.

This group will attempt to quantify the impact of ongoing restoration and conservation efforts and new fisheries management measures that are being developed (e.g., catch caps in two federal fisheries), which should benefit the species, review any new information produced from ongoing scientific studies (e.g., genetic analyses, ocean migration patterns, climate change impacts) that are completed in the next 3-5 years ; and assess available data to determine whether recent reports of higher river counts in many areas along the coast in the last two years represent sustained trends. 

During this time, NOAA Fisheries is also committed to working with partners and tribal governments to continue implementing important conservation efforts and fund needed research for river herring. NOAA Fisheries intends to revisit the status of river herring within the next five years.

Some Ongoing Efforts to Benefit River Herring and Other Sea-Run Fish Species

Click here to read about Whittenton Dam project in Massachusetts

Click here to read about return of alewife river run on St. Croix River in Maine

Click here to read more about recovery of river herring run on the Acushnet River in MA

Click here to read more about Veazie Dam removal benefits to sturgeon and river herring species in Maine

Click here to read New York Times article about efforts to bring back river herring and sturgeon species on Penobscot  River in Maine