Environmentalists say that river herring, which includes alewives and blueback herring, play a crucial role in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem.
Federal fisheries regulators say they’ll review river herring populations to determine whether the fish should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the review will determine whether the fish should be listed as endangered or threatened, or not listed at all.
River herring include alwives and blueback herring, and environmentalists in Maine say the anadromous fish, which swim up rivers to breed, play a crucial role in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem.
The review was prompted by a petition submitted in August by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Since 2008, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which manages the two species of fish, has been conducting an assessment of river herring populations from Maine to Florida.
If NOAA decides the fish should be listed, it will publish a proposed rule and provide an opportunity for public comment before publishing a final decision.
Both alewife and blueback herring are found in coastal waters and rivers from Canada to North Carolina, though blueback herring’s range extends farther south to Florida.