Stay connected with us
around the nation »

Northeast Mid-Water Trawl (includes pair trawls)

Current Classification on the 2017 LOF

Category II
Estimated Number of Participants 1,087
Target Species Atlantic herring with bycatch of several finfish species, predominantly mackerel, spiny dogfish, and silver hake
Applicable Take Reduction Plans Atlantic Trawl Gear Take Reduction Team
Observer Coverage During the period 1997-2013, estimated percent observer coverage (trips) was 0, 0, 0.73, 0.46, 0.06, 0, 2.25, 11.48, 19.9, 3.1, 8.04, 19.92, 42, 53, 41, 45 and 37, respectively. Observer coverage for 2010 -2013 includes both observers and at-sea monitors.
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured Common dolphin, WNA
Gray seal, WNA
Harbor seal, WNA
Long-finned pilot whale, WNA1

^ 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

The total annual mortality and serious injury of long-finned pilot whales (Western North Atlantic [WNA] stock) and short-finned pilot whales (WNA stock) in this fishery is greater than 1% and less than 50% of the stocks’ Potential Biological Removal (PBR).


The fishery occurs primarily in Maine state waters, Jeffrey's Ledge, southern New England, and Georges Bank during the winter months when the target species continues its southerly migration from the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank, into mid-Atlantic waters. This fishery includes all U.S. waters south of Cape Cod, MA that are east of 70° W and extending south to the intersection of the EEZ and 70° W (approximately 37° 54'N), as well as all U.S. waters north of Cape Cod to the Maine-Canada border.”

Gear Description

This fishery uses primarily mid-water (pelagic) trawls (single and paired), which is trawl gear designed, capable, or used to fish for pelagic species with no portion designed to be operated in contact with the bottom.


The fishery is managed jointly by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Total Effort

Total effort, measured in trips, for the Northeast Mid-Water Trawl Fishery (across all gear types) from 1997 to 2013 was 578, 289, 553, 1,312, 2,404, 1,736, 2,158, 1,564, 717, 590, 286, 236, 236, 294, 331, 413 and 291, respectively (NMFS).


Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) II (1999)
Original Number of Participants 17
Basis for Original Classification This fishery was listed as a Category II by analogy with the Category II "Atlantic squid, mackerel, butterfish trawl fishery". NMFS had no evidence of interactions with marine mammals, but this fishery uses the same midwater trawl gear used in other Category II fisheries known to take several species of cetaceans, and operates at times and in areas of high marine mammal abundance (particularly the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy stock of harbor porpoise). This fishery includes vessels that were participating in the "Gulf of Maine, U.S. mid-Atlantic, coastal herring trawl fishery," which was removed from the LOF because there was little difference between vessels or gear fishing coastal waters or offshore waters.
Past Names “Atlantic herring mid-water trawl (including pair trawl) fishery” until 2005.
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A


Timeline of Changes

  • Deleted WNA stocks of white-sided dolphin and short-finned pilot whale based on no documented mortalities or injuries in the most recent five-year period.
  • Estimated number of participants updated from 1,103 to 1,087.
  • Added common dolphin (WNA) based on documented mortalities in 2010 and 2012.
  • Added grey seal (WNA) based on a documented mortality in 2012.
  • Estimated number of participants updated from 887 to 1,103.
  • Clarified the spatial boundary by adding the following to the spatial distribution: “The Northeast mid-water trawl fishery includes all U.S. waters south of Cape Cod, MA that are east of 70° W and extending south to the intersection of the EEZ and 70° W (approximately 37° 54'N), as well as all U.S. waters north of Cape Cod to the Maine-Canada border.” 
  • Estimated number of participants updated from 953 to 887.
  • Updated the fishery description to include the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council as another body that jointly governing this fishery. 
  • Estimated number of participants updated from 17 to 953. This estimation may be an inflation of actual effort; however, it represents the potential effort for the fishery, given the multiple gear types several state permits may allow for.
  • Added a superscript “1” in Table 2 after long-finned pilot whales (WNA) and short-finned pilot whales (WNA), indicating that these stocks are driving the categorization of this fishery.
  • Fishery renamed from the “Atlantic herring midwater trawl (including pair trawl) fishery” to the "Northeast mid-water trawl (including pair trawl) fishery" to appropriately classify all similar mid-water trawl fisheries operating in the Northeast region (home ports between Connecticut and Maine), that might be interacting with marine mammals.
  • Long-finned pilot whale (WNA), short-finned pilot whale (WNA), and white-sided dolphin (WNA) added to the list of species/stocks killed/injured in this fishery based on interactions documented in recent SARs. The 2003 SAR reported that the average annual mortality and serious injury of pilot whales was 11 animals/year (or 3.8% of PBR [PBR=239]) and of white-sided dolphins was 2 animals/year (or 0.5% of PBR [PBR=364]).
  • Harbor seal (WNA stock) added to the list of species/stocks killed/injured in this fishery. The 1999 SAR stated that there were high levels of interaction between this stock and deep water trawls on the Grand Banks.
  • NMFS considered adding this fishery to the LOF as a Category II under the name "Atlantic pelagic midwater herring trawl fishery," because it utilized the same gear as the Category II "Atlantic squid, mackerel, butterfish trawl fishery.” Also, because it utilized different gear, and fished at different times and in different locations (with high harbor porpoise abundance) than the Category III coastal "Gulf of Maine, Southern North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico coastal herring trawl fishery." NMFS did not include the fishery on the 1998 LOF in order to allow for sufficient opportunity for public comment. NMFS planned to continue to monitor observer data and to propose a categorization in the 1999 LOF, and continued to use its authority to add observers to vessels operating in this fishery under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.


Updated December 14, 2016