Fish Harvesting Could Return at Harwich’s Herring River

River herring photo courtesy of Gerry Beetham

HARWICH – Harwich officials have approved a Sustainable Fishery Management plan for fish harvesting at Herring River. 

River herring harvest was banned in Harwich in 2004 out of concern for dwindling fish populations, with Massachusetts following suit with a sweeping statewide ban in 2006, says Brad Chase with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries.

“The state felt like it was their job to shut it down, and Harwich was proactive. Harwich said ‘okay we’re going to shut it down early’ and the state said they couldn’t do that. And then two years later we shut it down for everybody. So it’s a credit to the town of Harwich in terms of natural resource management,” said Chase.

The plan calls for no more than 600 permits total over a maximum of a 5 week season, as well as a 20 fish per week bag limit. 

Chase told the board that the change would make a big difference for those who like to fish but can’t afford a boat.

“People like to collect these fish to use for bait or to eat them. It’s a practice that has faded away in recent times, but if you go back a few generations it was really important. A lot of people use these fish.”

The proposal will next be examined by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in October. 

If Harwich gets approval, it can hold harvest seasons when it chooses.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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