NY River Herring Management
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is a cooperative interstate organization that coordinates the conservation and management of the near shore fishery resources along the Atlantic coast. Once group of species managed by ASMFC is shad and river herring (American shad, hickory shad and anadromous alewife and blueback herring). ASMFC completed a coast-wide benchmark assessment of river herring populations in May 2012. As a member of ASMFC, New York participated in this assessment, summarizing available data for river herring stocks in the state. The results of this coast-wide assessment indicated that all coastal stocks of river herring were to be considered depleted. copy of the assessment is available at the ASMFC website (see link in right sidebar). Be sure to scroll down the ASMFC web page to "Reports" to find the assessment report.
Interstate Management - Implementation of Amendment 2
ASMFC first adopted a fishery management plan (FMP) for American shad and river herring in 1985. In May 2009, ASMFC adopted Amendment 2 to the FMP in response to declines in many river herring stocks (not including shad) along the Atlantic Coast. This amendment guides river herring management for all Atlantic coastal states. New York, as a member of ASMFC, is required under federal law to comply with this new management plan. Amendment 2 stipulates the following management measure for both commercial and recreational fisheries: States with river herring (anadromous alewife and blueback herring) stocks must close fisheries (commercial and recreational) except for those river systems with a sustainable fishery. A "sustainable fishery" is defined as "a fishery in a state that can demonstrate its alewife or blueback herring stock(s) could support a commercial and/or recreational fishery that will not diminish the potential future stock reproduction or recruitment." Simply, this means that collected data should indicate adults (spawning stock) and production of young are not in decline.
Currently, only five states have approved plans that allow directed fisheries for river herring: New York (in the Hudson River only), Maine, New Hampshire, and South Carolina; North Carolina has a small research allowance. River herring fisheries in all other Atlantic coast states and jurisdictions are closed. More information about Amendment 2 can be found at ASMFC's website (link to the right).
Sustainable Fishing Plan for New York River Herring Stocks
In order to comply with Amendment 2, NYSDEC drafted a Sustainable Fishing Plan (SFP) for the state's river herring stocks. The SFP proposes a sustainable fishery for the Hudson River and its tributaries, based on our current understanding of stock status, and also proposes restrictions to the existing fisheries. Some stock indexes of Hudson River river herring are increasing and while others are decreasing. Because of these conflicting indicators, along with the unlimited take allowed in the current Hudson recreational and commercial fisheries, the Hudson River fisheries do not meet the sustainable definition. In order to continue a fishery in these waters, the SFP describes necessary regulatory changes, as well as the necessary monitoring and biological targets that must be achieved.
The SFP also includes proposed moratoriums on take of river herring for all streams on Long Island, Bronx County and southern Westchester County that empty into the East River and Long Island Sound, and the Delaware River and its tributaries north of Port Jervis, NY. The moratoriums are necessary because the limited data collected for some of these streams are not sufficient to determine stock condition and if a fishery could be sustainable. A copy of the SFP that New York State submitted to ASMFC, NY River Herring Sustainable Fishing Plan (PDF) (1.34 MB), is available online.
Stakeholder input for the SFP was obtained during three public information meetings held in 2010 and during an informal comment period in August 2011.
Changes in NY's River Herring Fishing Regulations for the Hudson River
In September 2012 DEC adopted regulations that implement the management measures in the SFP. The tables below summarize these regulations. A summary of river herring regulation changes is available as a PDF (link in the right column). Links to the regulations as adopted are above each table.
Recreational Regulations (Personal use)
- From March 15 to June 15, fishing and harvest of river herring is allowed all days in the week and at night. NO fishing for river herring is allowed outside of these dates.
Limit to the number of herring you can keep in a day
- Limit is 10 river herring per angler per day.
- Once you have caught your 10 river herring for the day, that's it. You can continue to fish, but must release any you catch. All river herring caught and used for bait, count towards your daily limit.
- If you are fishing from a boat with 5 or more people on board, the limit for the boat is 50 herring per day.
- Charter Operations*: Charters must register with the Department to be eligible to possess 10 river herring per paying customer; or with 5 or more customers on board, a maximum of 50 herring per day, whichever is lower. Please contact the Hudson River Fisheries Unit (contact information in the right column).
Fishing in the Hudson's Tributaries or Embayment** (see note below)
- In a tributary or embayment, river herring can only be taken by ANGLING. Angling means fishing with a rod and reel with hooks/line.
- Tributaries include the Mohawk River above the Troy Dam.
- Embayment means a bay of the Hudson River closed off from the main river by a natural (shoals) or man-made (railroad trestles, dredge spoil deposits, etc.) barrier with small confined entrances. Embayments can include one or several Hudson River Tributaries
- You can not use nets to fish for river herring in any tributary or embayment. This includes dip nets, scap nets, gill nets or any other net you can think of. Gill nets are not allowed recreational fishing gear.
- Luring a herring into a dip net with a stoolie is not angling.
Closed Areas (existing)
- Existing regulation remains in place: Herring fishing is not permitted from Guard Gate 2 to Lock 2 on the Mohawk River (Waterford flight of locks/dams).
Personal use of nets & where you can use them
- Nets can only be used in the main stem of the Hudson, and not the tributaries or embayments.
- Luring a herring to a dip or scap net with a stoolie is a legal use of a net that is only allowed in the main stem of the Hudson River.
- Maximum sizes of the nets allowed:
- Scap/Lift Net : 16 square feet (4 feet by 4 feet)
- Dip Net : 14 inches round or 13 inches by 13 inches square
- Seine Net: 36 square feet
- Cast Net: 10 feet in diameter
Marine Fishing Registration
- Yes - you need to register! It is a free registry and must be renewed after Jan 1st of every year. You can call 1-866-933-2257 to register.
Reporting your catch
- Reporting is not mandatory.
- We strongly encourage you to sign up for the volunteer Hudson River Angler Diary (call 845-256-3009).
** The Hudson River Tributary and Embayment Entrances are available on a map in Google Earth. Click on the Google Earth symbol to download the map.You must have Google Earth loaded on your computer to open the file.
Commercial Regulations (Sale of fish)
6 NYCRR section 36.3 (link leaves DEC's website)
Hudson River Marine Permit
- You need a Marine Permit to fish the allowed commercial gears (gill nets, scoop, dip, scap nets, seine, fyke or trap nets): Marine Permit Application (PDF) (240 KB)
- You need a Bait License to use cast nets (cannot be greater than 10 feet in diameter): Bait License Application (PDF) (25 KB)
- March 15 to June 15, both dates inclusive
- Gill nets fished above the Bear Mountain Bridge MUST be TENDED by the permit holder at all times.
Catch and Effort Reporting
- Catch and effort report logs (will be sent with your Marine Permit) must be filled out after each fishing trip (even if you catch nothing).
- Reports are due the 15th of each month:
- For Mar 15 to Apr 30: report due May 15th; May's report due June 15th, etc. until the expiration of the license.
- If you do not fish you still need to send in the report.
- Failure to send in the correctly filled out report(s), will prevent you from receiving a Marine Permit the following year. This will be enforced in 2013!
From March 15 through June 15, the following apply:
1) Escapement (NO fishing) Period
- Fishing commercial gear is NOT allowed from 6 AM on Friday's through 6PM on Saturday.
- The Escapement Period applies to ALL commercial gears.
2) Closed Areas
- No nets are allowed:
- On the Kingston Flats
- In any of the Hudson's tributaries or embayments (see definition under recreational fishing). Tributaries include the Mohawk River.
3) Restricted areas
- No gill nets are allowed above the I-90 / Castleton Railroad Bridges.
4) Net restrictions (Please Note Gill Net Area change; Please Note Scap Net size change)
- Gill nets: must be no longer than 600 feet with a stretch mesh size of 3.5 inches or less.
- Drift gill nets can only be used above the Bear Mountain Bridge
- Fixed Gill Nets can only be used below the Bear Mountain Bridge
- Seine Nets are allowed, but if you fish above the I-90 / Castleton RR Bridges, it must not be longer than 100 feet.
- Scap / Lift nets must not be greater than 10 feet x 10 feet.
- All nets must be stowed in a closed container or below deck when entering a tributary or embayment.
Changes in NY's River Herring Fishing Regulations for All Other Waters
- Recreational: No Fishing or Possession of anadromous river herring (alewife & blueback herring) is allowed in: Bronx, Kings, Manhattan, Nassau, Richmond, Suffolk, and Queens Counties, Westchester County streams that empty into the East River or Long Island Sound, the Delaware River and its tributaries, and the marine and coastal district.
- Commercial: No fishing allowed in waters listed above (in Recreational) except for the marine and coastal district. Vessels with a valid federal permit for Atlantic herring or Atlantic mackerel will have a maximum trip limit for river herring of five percent, by weight, of all species possessed. Any river herring possessed shall not be bartered, sold, or offered or exposed for sale.
If you have any questions please call the Hudson River Fisheries Unit at 845-256-3073, 845-256-3009, or 845-256-3071. You can also email or mail your questions to the address on the right.