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Puffin stuff: Herring laws may just spice up funny-looking chook

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January 23, 2021 | 10:54 AM

BATH, Maine (AP) — The economic fishery for herring has suffered in recent times because of new restrictions, however those self same laws may just get advantages a few of Maine’s maximum cherished birds — puffins.

Atlantic puffins, recognized for his or her colourful beaks and waddling walks, have been as soon as just about long gone from Maine, the one U.S. state the place they nest. Many years of conservation paintings have introduced Maine’s inhabitants of the birds to about 1,300 pairs that nest on small islands off the coast.

Those self same Gulf of Maine waters are crucial house for the U.S. herring fishery. The fishery has needed to cope with quota cuts in recent times as a result of federal efforts to give protection to the fish’s inhabitants, and extra restrictions are at the means.

The U.S. catch of herring, founded most commonly in Maine and Massachusetts, fell from greater than 200 million kilos in 2014 to lower than 25 million kilos in 2019.

Puffins are depending on small fish to continue to exist, and new protections to the herring inhabitants may just lend a hand them do this, stated Don Lyons, director of conservation science for the Nationwide Audubon Society’s Seabird Institute in Bremen, Maine.

“Herring are indisputably a key meals supply for puffins. The type of fish they do easiest on, that they easiest carry chicks feeding,” Lyons stated. “The declines of herring during the last decade or longer have now not been excellent for puffins.”

The herring fishery is going through a brand new set of restrictions from the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Management beginning Feb. 10. The constraints come with a prohibition on using sure fishing tools in inshore waters. Additionally they come with new laws that account for herring’s position within the ecosystem, federal paperwork state.

That’s excellent information for puffins, as a result of small fish on the subject of shore are vitally essential for puffin folks so as to feed chicks, Lyons stated. But it surely’s going to problem herring fishermen, stated Mary Beth Tooley, director of presidency affairs for O’Hara Corp., a big Rockland, Maine-based bait broker and herring harvester.

Herring are economically essential as a result of lobster fishermen have used them to bait traps for generations. Shortages of herring have sophisticated that in recent times, and bait crunches have resulted.

The herring fishery is eager for upper catch limits at some point, however 2021 and 2022 might be tricky years, Tooley stated.

“Numerous companies are fascinated by their skill to be viable,” she stated. “Within the very close to non permanent it’s been a problem.”

The puffins nest in the summertime on islands similar to Jap Egg Rock off Maine’s mid-coast area, the place they’re a well-liked tourism draw. Lyons described the birds’ Maine inhabitants as “secure” over the last 5 years, if now not most likely a little bit greater.

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