Cape Ann fishermen and other stakeholders will have a chance to weigh in on a plan to better manage the New England fishery for Atlantic herring next month.

Interstate fishing regulators are holding a hearing at 6 p.m. March 2 at the state Division of Marine Fisheries' Annisquam River Station, 30 Emerson Ave. in Gloucester. Other hearings will be held March 3 in Wakefield and Portsmouth, New Hampshire; March 9 in Augusta, Maine, and by webinar on March 12.

Herring are important economically because they serve as key bait for the lobster and tuna industries. They're also used as food for human consumption. But perhaps most important, the fish is a critical part of the marine ecosystem because it serves as food for whales, seals and larger fish.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission said in a statement that a recent assessment of the herring stock found downward trends in the health of the population.

Proposed changes to the way the fishery is managed would give regulators more flexibility when the quota for the fish is low, the commission said in a statement. The rule changes contained in Atlantic Herring Draft Addendum III would apply to the inshore Gulf of Maine area.

Public comment on the possible charges will be accepted until 5 p.m. on March 25, and should be forwarded to Kirby Rootes-Murdy, Senior FMP

Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, Virginia 22201; by fax at 703.842.0741 or emailed to comments@asmfc.org (Subject line: Atlantic Herring Draft Addendum III).

More information is available by contacting Kirby Rootes-Murdy at krootes-murdy@asmfc.org or 703-842-0740.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. 

IF YOU GO

What: Public hearing on plan to better manage herring fishery.

When: March 2 at 6 p.m.

Where: Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries' Annisquam River Station, 30 Emerson Ave. in Gloucester.

Contact: Melanie Griffin at 617-626-1528.

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