Recovery of the Gulf of Maine--Georges Bank Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) complex: perspectives based on bottom trawl survey data


Overholtz, William J., and Kevin D. Friedland
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NMFS bottom trawl survey data were used to describe changes in distribution, abundance, and rates of population change occurring in the Gulf of Maine–Georges Bank herring (Clupea harengus) complex during 1963–98. Herring in the region have fully recovered following severe over­ fishing during the 1960s and 1970s. Three distinct, but seasonally intermingling components from the Gulf of Maine, Nantucket Shoals (Great South Channel area), and Georges Bank appear to compose the herring resource in the region. Distribution ranges contracted as herring biomass declined in the late 1970s and then the range expanded in the 1990s as herring increased. Analysis of research survey data suggest that herring are currently at high levels of abundance and biomass. All three components of the stock complex, including the Georges Bank component, have recovered to pre-1960s abundance. Survey data support the theory that herring recolonized the Georges Bank region in stages from adjacent components during the late 1980s, most likely from herring spawning in the Gulf of Maine.