Federal fisheries regulators are shutting down the in-shore Atlantic herring fishery in the Gulf of Maine, effective 1 a.m. Sunday.

The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates the fishery has exceeded 92 percent of the total allowable catch allocated to Management Area 1A, historically the primary source of fresh herring bait for the lobster industry. The area stretches from the tip of Cape Cod to the U.S.-Canadian border.

The fishery will remain closed through May 31. During a closure, vessels that are fishing for species may land an incidental catch of herring as long as it does not exceed 2,000 pounds per trip.

The closure was expected. Last year the closure was implemented a week earlier.

Atlantic herring is the primary lobster bait for Maine’s lobster industry. The herring fishery in Maine was valued in 2013 at about $16 million, or 3 percent of the state’s $531 million commercial fishery, according to the Department of Marine Resources. About 100,000 metric tons of herring are caught annually in New England.

There are 11 herring vessels based in Maine, ranging in size from 45 feet to 100 feet.


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