Inshore Gulf of Maine Herring Acoustic Survey

Atlantic herring is at the center of the ecological and economic “food webs” in the Gulf of
Maine. They play the central ecological role as the dominant forage fish in the region and serve
as a critical economic component to sustaining the New England lobster industry. Coastal Maine
waters (Area 1A) historically were the primary source of fresh herring bait for the lobster
industry. Greater than 50% reductions in the allowable harvest of herring over the past several
years, based on a stock assessment with a number of well-recognized problems and no direct
estimates of the herring resource in Area 1A, have shifted bait supply/demand dynamics. These
management decisions underscore the lobster industry’s dependency on and susceptibility to the
fate of herring. Using acoustic instrumentation provided by an award to GMRI from the Maine
Technology Asset Fund, we propose to conduct herring acoustic surveys in Area 1A using a
collaborative approach with the Maine lobster industry that uses lobster boats as acoustic survey
platforms. The project will provide direct and quantitative estimates of herring critical for
informed management decisions that balance conservation needs for sustaining herring
populations and economic needs of the lobster and herring industries.