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Atlantic Herring
 Herring Research
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acoustic survey
Acoustic Surveys
Canadian and U.S. efforts to track herring populations
role of fishermen
The Role of Fishermen
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spawning research
Spawning Research
Finding Herring Eggs: Island Institute's Spawning Survey
herring stock assessments in the Gulf of Maine
Taking Stock
Assessing population structure
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drawing of a herring with morphometric lines overlain

Herring Research in the Gulf of Maine

From Norway to New England, the existing printed matter for Atlantic herring, C. harengus, comprises over four thousand published journals, articles, technical papers, and books. [REFERENCE???] Do the math, and that works out to be about one printed document per nautical mile between Norway and the eastern coast of North America. The literature on Atlantic herring could span the herring's entire range. Some managers estimate that more information has been published about "King Herring" than any other fish species. [1] Some hypothesize that, not surprisingly, the copious literature may be directly related to the fish's economic importance.

Herring stocks report, Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Herring research was one of the earliest endeavors of marine science, and the abundant herring research has contributed to many major advances in modern fisheries science, including development of the population/stock concept, tracking of year classes, hydroacoustic methods and new approaches to management. [2] Despite this scholarly energy directed at the species, there are still unanswered questions about herring population structure. Herring biologist Mark Tupper points out, "The literature base (for herring) is enormous, and yet in many cases we still lack the basic information essential to formulate sound management."

Current research on herring in the Gulf of Maine is focused on providing scientists with better information for managing the resource. Trawl surveys and hydroacoustic surveys are used to estimate the amount (biomass) of herring. In addition, commercial catches are sampled to determine the size and age of herring being caught. Information from all these sources is put into computer models that help scientists to calculate the amount of herring that can be harvested from the Gulf of Maine while maintaining a healthy population.

Tagging and genetics studies are being conducted by scientists interested in learning about how herring migrate throughout the region. By tagging herring in one area and recording where they end up months or even years later, it is possible to reconstruct their movements and get an idea of how herring from different parts of the Gulf of Maine mix at different times of the year. Comparing the genetic codes of herring that spawn in different areas of the Gulf of Maine may offer clues about whether herring return to the same spot year after year to reproduce. Answering this question is important to understanding how fishing effort should be managed to protect the herring resource throughout the Gulf of Maine.


[1] Whitehead, P.J.P. (1985) King herring: his place amongst the clupeoids. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 42 (Suppl. 1):3-20.

[2] Stephenson, R.L. (2001) The role of herring investigations in shaping fisheries science. Herring: Expectations for a new millennium. Alaska Sea Grant College Program. AK-SG-01-04.

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