Commercial fishing companies are against proposed changes to the Atlantic herring fishery management plan.
The New England Fisheries Management Council wants to establish a new process for setting the sustainable harvest limit, referred to as the "acceptable biological catch." The new rule would take into account herring's role in the ecosystem, meaning the needs of its predators would be considered when setting fishing quota.
The Town Dock, a Rhode Island-based seafood dealer and processor, said in a statement changing the control rule would be problematic for the fishery.
"We are going to need the flexibility in setting the (acceptable biological catch) over the coming years as we are expecting a decrease in quota due to poor recruitment in the fishery (recruitment is how many young fish are entering the population each year)," Katie Almeida, fishery policy analyst for the Town Dock, wrote.
Almeida said flexibility is important because recruitement is environmentally driven.
The council is also looking to address concerns that herring may be getting depleted in some areas with different proposed restrictions on where fishermen are allowed to catch the fish.
However, the Sustainable Fisheries Coalition, a group made up of commercial fishing companies that participate in the Atlantic herring fishery, said in a statement "there is currently no evidence that the existing rules are causing localized depletion, or are harming the herring population in any way."
The management council will be holding several public hearings throughout the region in May and June to collect comments on the proposal.
Atlantic herring are small, schooling fish, primarily caught to use as bait for tuna and lobster.
This post has been updated.