Audubon Applauds New Protections for a New England Fish That Seabirds Rely On

NOAA approved a new policy to protect Atlantic herring.

WASHINGTON (January 11, 2021) – Today the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its final rule that implements Amendment 8 to the Atlantic herring Fishery Management Plan, which recognizes the important role that herring play for seabirds and other marine life.

“Amendment 8 provides a huge boost to seabirds like Atlantic Puffins, ensuring there are plenty of herring in the ocean for them to eat and feed their young,” said Dr. Donald Lyons, director of conservation science at Audubon’s Seabird Institute. “Herring are the fish of choice for puffins, which are already struggling to find food in a warming ocean.

“These new management measures not only help birds but also cod, whales, seals, and many other marine predators, as well as the coastal communities that depend on a healthy fishery.”

The new measures, developed by the New England Fishery Management Council in 2019, for the first time formally recognize and account for the role of herring as forage in the ecosystem. The final rule ensures annual commercial fishery catch levels are set to leave enough herring in the water to support locally breeding seabirds including Atlantic Puffins and Common Terns, as well as prized sportfish such as striped bass.

The rule also prohibits the use of giant trawls in nearshore waters from Connecticut through the Canadian border. These football-field sized nets have pulled millions of pounds of herring out of the ocean, disrupting herring spawning and seabird feeding activity. The new prohibition protects herring spawning activity as well as a concentrated food source for seabirds and coastal water birds.


About Audubon
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

Rachel Guillory,, 504.708.5873