There is a statewide moratorium on the harvest of river herring, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The halt includes blueback and alewife herring, according to a DNR statement Friday. The moratorium has been in effect since Dec. 26.

The Atlantic Coast river herring stock is managed by a multi-state commission. Each state from Maine to Florida was required to institute a fishing stop for herring by Jan. 1 unless a state-specific management plan demonstrated sustainability.

Herring populations have been declining for at least 40 years, according to DNR, and maintaining levels of the fish are important for maintenance of the state's freshwater food chains and habitats.

Anyone possessing river herring as bait will need to have a receipt showing where the herring was purchased, DNR said, so that officials can ensure the herring comes from a state where harvesting the small fish is still allowed.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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