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Fishermen, Regulators Brace for Spring Herring Moratorium

March 17, 2006

The Vineyard Gazette

Alewives, one of the great harbingers of spring, have returned to Vineyard waters.

But there is a crucial difference this year: the state of Massachusetts has barred people from catching or possessing these anadramous fish, which return from the ocean to spawn in freshwater ponds.

The state has placed a three-year moratorium on the harvesting of alewives, also known as river herring. Connecticut has had a moratorium in place for years. Rhode Island fisheries managers will decide April 3 whether to do the same.

“People have to realize that even if they are putting herring in a lobster pot, they can be fined,” said Derek Cimeno, shellfish constable from Tisbury.

Under the moratorium, all herring runs are closed to the public. The new state law prohibits possession of herring, even if the fish was caught in any way other than the traditional manner of scooping them out of a run with a net.

Fisheries regulators say alewives are so overfished that the fish are disappearing from the region. In some runs on the Cape, the herring already are gone.

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