Pacific Herring Fishery Management Plan

Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) supports a historically and culturally important fishery in California, particularly in San Francisco Bay. It is also a critically important forage species for a wide suite of predators, including seabirds, marine mammals, and commercially and recreationally important fisheries. Management of the fishery has been precautionary in recent years with a high level of collaboration between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the fishing industry and the conservation community. There is however a need to update the existing management structure to one that is more efficient, and conforms more closely to the requirements of the Marine Life Management Act (MLMA). To achieve this, CDFW has partnered with commercial fishery representatives and members of the conservation community, forming the Pacific Herring Steering Committee (Committee), to develop a Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Pacific herring in California.

The goal of the FMP will be to formalize a strategy for Pacific Herring management that will be responsive to environmental and socioeconomic changes, using a decision-making process that preserves the sustainability of the fishery while considering the entire ecosystem. The MLMA requires that management be based on both the best available science and stakeholder input. The Committee has identified a number of management objectives, which will be addressed in the herring FMP, including:

  • Modernize the limited entry permit system for the commercial Herring fishery.
  • Streamline and update existing commercial Herring regulations where possible.
  • Develop a Harvest Control Rule for the San Francisco Bay fishery that provides for a sustainable fishery and includes ecosystem considerations, while managing risk with precaution.
  • Develop regulations for the recreational Herring fishery.
  • Describe habitat and ecosystem considerations.
  • Develop collaborative research opportunities to monitor and assess Herring populations in Tomales Bay, Humboldt Bay and Crescent City Harbor.

Final Draft California Pacific Herring FMP

The FMP is the culmination of over four years of work and represents the recommendations from the Committee and Department staff. The FMP has undergone independent, external peer review and has benefited from input from the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission), Marine Resources Committee, California Native American Tribes, and stakeholders.

The Department has submitted the Final Draft Herring FMP to the Commission. The Commission will consider adopting the Herring FMP and regulations that implement the Herring FMP at their October 9-10, 2019 meeting in Valley Center, California.

FMP Timeline


  • Fish and Game Commission Adoption Hearing for Final FMP and Regulatory Changes (October)
  • Fish and Game Commission Discussion Hearing for Draft FMP and Regulatory Changes (August)
  • Receive Public Comments on Draft FMP (June 17 - August 1)
  • Fish and Game Commission Notice Hearing for Draft FMP and Regulatory Changes (June 12-13)
  • Ongoing FMP Drafting and CEQA Analysis (January-April)


  • Ongoing FMP Drafting and CEQA Analysis (October-December)
  • FMP Draft Scientific Peer Review Final Report (September)
  • CEQA Analysis and Scoping (August- September)
  • Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee Update (July)
  • Stakeholder Meetings and Input


  • Information Gathering and Data Analysis
  • FMP Chapter Drafting
  • San Francisco Bay Harvest Control Rule Development and Testing
  • Collaborative Research Protocol Development
  • Commercial Permit Holder Survey
  • Stakeholder Meetings and Input
  • Develop Regulatory Changes


  • Project Management Team Contracted to Develop FMP
  • Tribal Notification and Consultation
  • Notification of Interested Parties and Stakeholders
  • Information Gathering and Data Analysis
  • San Francisco Bay Herring Stock Assessment Peer Review
  • Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee Update