Herring, Key to Coastal Health, Slowly Returning to Rivers

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — River herring once appeared headed to the endangered species list, but the little fish appear to be slowly coming back in the rivers and streams of the East Coast.

River herring are a critical piece of the ecosystem in the eastern states, where they serve as food for birds and larger fish. They spend most of their lives at sea, returning to freshwater in the spring to spawn.

The fish’s populations dramatically fell from generations of damming, habitat loss and overfishing, and the federal government considered adding it to the endangered list before deciding against it in 2013. But scientists with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission say they are starting to see upward trends.

The comeback has spurred calls from environmental groups for conservative management.

The New England Fishery Management Council recently voted to push midwater herring trawlers between 12 and 20 nautical miles away from the coast on a year-round basis.

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