CONTACT:
Doug Grout: 603-868-1095 
Clare McBane: 603-868-1095
October 16, 2008

Public Hearings Set for River Herring, Skate Management             

DURHAM, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Marine Fisheries Division advises that public meetings are scheduled to discuss management proposals for river herring and skate fisheries.  Following are the dates and times:

RIVER HERRING:  A meeting to gather public comment on Draft Amendment 2 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for River Herring will be held on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, at 7 p.m. at the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, N.H.  The draft amendment includes proposed requirements for river herring population and bycatch monitoring, as well as commercial and recreational management measures developed in response to widespread concern regarding the decline of river herring stocks. 

While many populations of blueback herring and alewife, collectively known as river herring, are in decline or remain depressed at stable levels, lack of fishery-dependent and independent data makes it difficult to determine the status of river herring stocks coastwide. Between 1985 and 2004, commercial landings of river herring dropped by 90 percent from 13.6 to 1.33 million pounds. In 2007, Commission member states reported river herring landings of approximately 1.1 million pounds. In response to declining stocks within their own waters, four states -- Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and North Carolina -- have closed their river herring fisheries. River herring stocks are a multi-jurisdictional resource occurring in rivers and coastal waters.

River herring bycatch continues to be a significant concern. Preliminary analyses indicate that, in some years, the total bycatch of river herring species by the Atlantic herring fleet alone could be equal to the total landings from the entire in-river directed fishery on the East Coast. The Draft Amendment proposes a suite of management measures to address these concerns and ensure the survival and enhancement of depressed stocks or the maintenance of presently stable stocks. The Draft Amendment proposes mandatory data and bycatch monitoring provisions, as well as options to close fisheries by river system or establish a coast-wide moratorium on the river herring fishery. Specific commercial measures may include area closures, escapement provisions, and landings reductions by river systems, as well as limited access. Recreational measures may include recreational license/permit, limiting recreational harvest by the days of the week, coast-wide creel limit, gear restrictions, and area or seasonal closures by river system.

Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on Draft Amendment 2, either by attending public hearings or sending written comments. The proposal is posted at www.asmfc.org under "Breaking News." Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on January 1, 2009.  Send to Kate Taylor, FMP Coordinator, 1444 'Eye' Street, NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005; or at comments@asmfc.org (Subject line: River Herring). For information, contact Kate Taylor at (202) 289-6400.

SKATE: A public hearing to gather comments on Draft Amendment 3, including a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to the Skate Fishery Management Plan, will be held on Thursday, October 30, 2008, at 7 p.m. at the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, N.H.  Related documents are available on the New England Fisheries Management Council website at www.nefmc.org/skates/planamen/amend3/Amend3_DSEIS_Sept08.htm.
Written comments will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. on November 10, 2008. Comments may be sent to: Ms. Patricia Kurkul, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1 Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the envelope "Comments on Skate Amendment 3." Comments may also be sent via fax to (978) 281-9135 or e-mailed to skateamendment3@noaa.gov (subject line: Comments on Skate Amendment 3).

If you have questions about these upcoming meetings, please call N.H. Fish and Game's Marine Fisheries Division at (603) 868-1095.  The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's marine, fish and wildlife resources and their habitats.  Visit www.WildNH.com/marine.

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