New England Seabirds
Herring Fishing, Mid-water
Trawlers and Whales and Birds on Jeffreys Ledge, NH
E-mail by Emmalee Tarry to NH Birds
I have been pelagic birding and whale
watching off the New England coast since
the mid 1980. While I was gone most of this summer, I did make
out to Jeffreys Ledge. To my surprise it was a spectacular
season for birds
and whales on Jeffreys Ledge. The best I have ever seen on
Jeffreys Ledge and
comparable to the legendary trips to Stellwagen Bank in the
1980's . I have
tried to collect reports from organized trips and individual
trips on my web
Why is Jeffreys Ledge and surroundings suddenly so productive?
believe in the tooth fairy, something has to have changed out
captain of a whale watch mentioned changes in the Herring
Fishery as a
possible explanation. So I went looking to find out what I
Nothing is easy about the ocean. The relationship between large
tiny Herring does not lend itself to simple answers and my
efforts do not
represent a scientific study. Relationships between Federal and
Regulatory bodies are equally hard to understand. Does a Herring
know when it
is federal waters as opposed to state waters?
Herring is fished for bait for Lobster, Blue Crab, and Tuna and
is also canned
for human consumption as sardines. I don't know of any
canning in New England ( even famous Cannery Row in Monterey, Ca
tourists now) but I believe foreign sources buy Herring from
Here is what I found out by calling a source in Washington in
Fisheries (something). In 2006 the limit for Herring landing in
Area 1 A (
Gulf of Maine) was dropped from 58 metric tons to 45 metric tons
and this was
maintained through this year. After the total limit is reached
the fishery is
closed for the season.
In addition to limiting the total catch for the year, there was
also a limit
as to how much could be caught by one boat on some days. This
something called "days out". So 5 days a week, a boat could only
pounds. On the other days there was no limit. What the days out
was to spread out the fishing over the season so that fresh bait
available to the lobster fishermen.
It is possible that overall allowable total of Herring will be
for 2010 perhaps to 1/2 of the current limit of 45 metric tons.
Perhaps more important to the whale watching industry is that
trawlers were prohibited in 2007 - 2009 until October 1 of the
mid-water trawlers use two boats to drag a huge net through the
not only catches a large number of fish, but disrupts the
schools of Herring.
Whales especially need the Herring to school because they need
to swim along
with their mouth open and catch as many fish as possible. If the
schools are disrupted, the whales must go elsewhere. The purse
fishermen claim that once the schools are disrupted by the
they do not regroup.
On October 1 the season for mid-water trawlers will open. I
think it is
important for bird watchers and whale watchers to continue going
Jeffreys Ledge to ascertain the impact of the open season for
trawlers. If you go out, ask the captain to inform you of any
trawlers that he has seen recently. Take pictures if you see
one. Then be
sure to report the bird and whale results of your trip to NH
Finally, I ask Who speaks up for the wildlife watching industry?
Seiners and the Mid-water Trawlers have their lobby
depleted stocks of herring on Jeffreys Ledge will send the
whales and birds
elsewhere. Birders and wildlife watchers cannot always follow
and we too
contribute to the economy of New Hampshire.
Some web links with helpful information.
Response from Peter Baker on 9/24/09
Regards the Herring Alliance
Please go to this web site and view the video. It says it
I am the right person as I run Pew's New
England herring campaign. I will forward this to our associate
Greg Wells (cc'd) so he can follow up with Emmalee (cc'd). Much
of our herring work in New England is through the Pew led
Herring Alliance, which can be found at
Honest By Catch
Peter Baker, Manager
New England Fisheries Campaigns
Pew Environment Group
1632 Orleans Road
Harwich, MA 02645
HonestByCatch was created out of the concern
surrounding the incidental capture of non-targeted
marine life in the industrial Atlantic herring midwater
Evidence shows these
oversized corporate operations dump hundreds of
thousands of dead and dying cod, haddock, river herring,
striped bass and marine mammals back into the sea.
www.honestbycatch.com to find out more about the
issue and how to get involved.