CHOIR: Coalition for the Atlantic Herring Fishery's Orderly, Informed, and Responsible Long-Term Development


The CHOIR Coalition was formed by fishermen in 2002 to advocate for the responsible development of the Atlantic herring fishery.

Charter members

Supporting Organizations back to top

a meeting in DC A meeting in Washington, D.C.

Commercial Fishing Groups

  • Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association
  • Cape Cod Gillnetters Association
  • Georges Bank Hook Sector
  • East Coast Tuna Association
  • General Category Tuna Association
  • North Shore Community Tuna Association
  • Maine Lobstermen's Association
  • NAMA
  • Monhegan Island Commercial Fishermen's Association
  • Stonington Fisheries Alliance
  • New England Hook Fishermen's Association
  • New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen's Association
  • Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen's Association
  • Outer Cape Lobstermen's Association
  • Downeast Lobstermen's Association
  • Nauset Fishermen's Association

Recreational Fishing Groups

  • Recreational Fishing Alliance
  • Coastal Conservation Association, Maine
  • Massachusetts Striped Bass Association
  • Rhode Island Saltwater Angler's Association (RISAA)
  • Cape Cod Salties
  • Northeast Charter Captains Association
  • Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association
  • Cape Cod Beach Buggy Association

Conservation Groups

  • Conservation Law Foundation
  • Oceana
  • The Ocean Conservancy
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • National Coalition for Marine Conservation
  • National Environmental Trust
  • Massachusetts State Public Interest Research Group

Non-traditional Groups and Businesses

  • Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company
  • Center for Coastal Studies
  • Cape Cod Stranding Network
  • Seabird Association

Concerns back to top

Bycatch in the Atlantic herring fishery, including groundfish, tuna, and marine mammals. By employing extremely efficient gear, such as pair trawls, the threat of severe bycatch events increases. The fishing power of the pair trawl fleet must not inadvertently endanger the rebuilding of other important marine resources.

Localized depletion of the herring resource inshore. Again, the efficiency of pair trawling, along with the ability to fish 24 hours a day, requires that provisions are put in place to ensure that herring schools are not dispersed and forced out of inshore waters.

Goals back to top

  • Characterize and minimize bycatch in Atlantic herring fishery
  • Create and implement coastal buffer zones in which midwater trawling would not be allowed within 50 miles of shore.
  • Develop herring fishery offshore while reducing pressure on the inshore component of the stock.

Tactics for achieving goals back to top


a trawl net

CHOIR offered to make a 'gentlemen's agreement' to put observers on midwater herring trawlers.When that strategy was rejected, CHOIR took 17 fishermen and concerned citizens to Washington, DC to ask Congress to encourage National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to put more observers on the herring fleet.NMFS Director Bill Hogarth responded within one week by announcing that 15 20% of all herring trips would be covered in 2004 with approximately 25% on the pair trawl fleet during the summer months.This level of bycatch coverage should provide a reasonably accurate baseline of bycatch in the herring fishery.From this baseline, managers will be able to create plans to minimize bycatch, per order of the Sustainable Fisheries Act (SFA).

Buffer zones

an open net

CHOIR has written an alternative for Amendment 1 to the Atlantic Herring Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) that would implement coastal buffer zones in which midwater trawling would not be allowed within 50 miles of shore.Under this alternative, all herring fishing within 50 miles of shore in the Gulf of Maine (GOM) and off Cape Cod would be restricted to purse seines, weirs, stop seines, and other traditional gear.The CHOIR buffer zone alternative is currently included in the draft Amendment 1.The Amendment will be developed and final alternatives will be chosen over the next year.Final implementation of Amendment 1 is expected in January of 2006.Amendment 1 is the best opportunity to impact the development of the herring fishery in the medium term.

Development of offshore fishery

While the competing stock assessments for Atlantic herring vary widely and have a high degree of uncertainty, they agree on one thing: the offshore component of the herring stock, centered on Georges Bank, is robust.There has been no separate stock assessment for the inshore component of the stock.This creates a high level of uncertainty about the inshore component and the effect of management measures on the future sustainability of the inshore component of the stock.Therefore, CHOIR advocates for the development of the herring fishery to be focused on the offshore component of the resource, rather then the inshore component.The uncertainty surrounding the inshore component of the stock should compel management that is precautionary inshore.CHOIR supports measures that encourage the herring fleet to fish the healthy offshore resource rather then the ill defined inshore component.

For more information back to top

Contact Peter Baker (email) or Sarah Gallo (email) at 508-945-2432 or Rich Ruais at 603-898-8862 (email).

Melissa Weidman meets with Rep. Delahunt Melissa Weidman meets with Rep. Delahunt
a meeting in DC A meeting in Washington, D.C.
the CHOIR Coalition meets in DC A meeting in Washington, D.C.

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