It is now unlawful in several Mid Atlantic states to harvest or possess river herring, a popular baitfish, without a valid receipt from a state or jurisdiction where harvest is permitted.
The term river herring is collectively applied to two species of fish, the alewife (Alosa aestivalis), and blueback herring (Alosa psuedoharengus).
River herring from Maine to Florida are managed cooperatively by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).
The new state regulations are necessary to comply with Amendment 2 of the ASMFC Fisheries Management Plan for Shad and River Herring (FMP). Amendment 2 requires the closing of the recreational and commercial harvest of migratory river herring in the waters of states that do not have ASMFC approved river herring sustainable management plans. States with open river herring fisheries include New York, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Traditionally, recreational anglers target river herring during their spring spawning runs. Although river herring are rarely harvested for the table, they are highly valued as bait for striped bass and other species.
In addition to anadromous river herring stocks, landlocked populations exist in several states. Because landlocked and anadromous herring are indistinguishable in the field, some states have enacted regulations that also restrict the possession and transport of landlocked herring.