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Gulf of Maine Atlantic herring purse seine

Current Classification on the 2017 LOF

Category III
Estimated Number of Participants >7
Target Species Atlantic herring
Applicable Take Reduction Plans None
Observer Coverage During the period 1994 to 2002, estimated observer coverage (number of trips observed/total commercial trips reported) was 0. From 2003 to 2010, percent observer coverage was 0.34, 9.8,0.27, 0, 3.2, 12, 21 and 12, respectively.
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured Harbor seal, WNA
Gray seal, WNA

^ Number of participants estimates are based on state and federal fisheries permit data.  The estimated number of participants is expressed in terms of the number of active participants in the fishery, when possible.  If this information is not available, the estimated number of vessels or persons licensed for a particular fishery is provided.  If no recent information is available on the number of participants, then the number from the most recent LOF is used.  NMFS acknowledges that, in some cases, these estimations may be inflating actual effort.  

*Observer coverage levels include the latest information reported in the most current final Stock Assessment Report (SAR)

1Indicates the stock or species is driving the classification of the fishery 

Note: Current classification based on final LOF, no proposed changes are reflected in this table.

Basis for Current Classification

There are no reports of marine mammal mortalities in this fishery. Marine mammals do become captured by gear in these fisheries but because the mesh size of nets used is small there is only a small chance of entanglement. When marine mammals including harbor seals, grey seals, humpback whales, fin whale and/or sei whales are caught in this gear, they are released alive without injury and thus are not included as species/stocks that are incidentally killed/injured by this fishery.


Occurs year­round but is more abundant during summer months (May-Oct) when herring is distributed through the Gulf of Maine and at night.

Gear Description

This fishery uses purse seine gear.  A purse seine “is a deep nylon mesh net with floats on the top and lead weights on the bottom. Rings are fastened at intervals to the lead line and a purse line runs completely around the net through the rings. One end of the net remains in the vessel and the other end is attached to a power skiff or “bug boat” that is deployed from the stern of the vessel and remains in place while the vessel encircles a school of fish with the net. Then the net is pursed and brought back aboard the vessel through a hydraulic power block. Purse seines vary in size according to the size of the vessel and the depth to be fished. Most purse seines used in the New England herring fishery range from 30 to 50 meters deep (100­165 ft)”


This gear is managed jointly by the MAFMC and ASFMC fishery management plans (FMPs).  Relevant FMPs include, but may not be limited to the Atlantic Herring FMP (FR 70(19), 50 CFR Part 648.200 through 648.207) and the Northeast Multispecies (FR 67, CFR Part 648.80 through 648.97).  This fishery is primarily managed by total allowable catch (TACs).

Total Effort

Total metric tons of fish landed from 1998 to 2013 were 24,256, 39,866, 29,609, 20,691, 20,096, 17,939, 19,958, 16,306, 18,700, 31,019, 27,327, 22,547, 8,566, 16,981, 19,413 and 23,218 respectively (NMFS, Unpbl.). Total effort, measured in trips, for the Gulf of Maine Atlantic Herring Purse Seine Fishery from 2002 to 2013 was 343, 339, 276, 202, 173, 249, 344, 249, 228, 242, 273, 273, 288 and 318 respectively (NMFS, Unpbl.).


Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (1989)
Original Number of Participants 30
Basis for Original Classification No reports of marine mammal mortalities. Marine mammals do
become captured by gear in these fisheries but because the mesh size of nets used is small there is only a small
chance of entanglement. When marine mammals are caught in this gear, they are generally released without injury.
Past Names N/A
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A


Timeline of Changes

  • Estimated number of vessels/persons changed to >7
  • Estimated number of vessels/persons changed to >6
  • Estimated number of vessels/persons changed to >7
  • Harbor porpoise (GME/BF) deleted from list of species killed/injured based on data from 1999­2003,
    indicating no evidence that harbor porpoises are killed in this fishery.


Updated December 14, 2016