Friday, March 17, 2006

Still Saving The Herring

This week's public hearing on the herring regulations was both disturbing and encouraging. It was disturbing to hear the depth of concern, frustration, and emotion from those who attended. No one spoke against the proposed ban outright, though a few folks did the usual 'pointing to any other cause than fishing' routine. Mostly, there was just a sense of resignation and sadness that it has all come to this.

In another way, it was encouraging. Only a handful of people stood up to testify on the regs, but scores of people sent letters to DEM supporting the closure. You, the readers of this blog, provided nearly 70 letters of support from individuals and organizations who obviously care a great deal about this. It was also great to hear our old friends and partners in conservation stand up for what we all know is the right thing to do.

We are not done yet. DEM appears ready to implement the proposed ban in short order, and that agency deserves a great deal of credit for its prompt and courageous action on this. Still, we need to do more than stop the fishing of herring. We must continue to work hard to secure funding and committments for research into causes for the decline, monitoring, water quality restoration and fish passage projects. We must cultivate and empower our friends and allies on the Bay and in the fishing community to become active stewards of the resource.

We must never give up hope, for all is not lost. Yesterday, Taunton River warrior Tim Watts reported the arrival of the first few fish into the Nemasket. 2002 was actually a strong year-class for herring in the Bay, and those fish should be returning to spawn this year. With a ban firmly in place and troops of volunteers, agencies, and scientists working together to protect and restore these fish, this might be the beginning of the comeback. Let's make it so. -JT

Who Saves The Bay? The effort to protect river herring is part of Save The Bay's mission to protect, preserve and restore Narragansett Bay and its watershed. This work is made possible through the support of our members and others who care about the Bay's health and future. Please help by making a donation or becoming a Save The Bay member. Click here to learn how you can support Save The Bay.

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