Herring are unloaded from a fishing boat in Rockland, July 8, 2015. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

Interstate fishing managers are proposing options to try to better protect the Gulf of Maine’s population of herring, which is a valuable fish that has declined in recent years.

Atlantic herring are important for the East Coast lobster fishery because they are a critical source of bait. They’re also used as food for humans, and they’re a vital link in the ocean’s food chain.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission says new protections are needed because the herring population has fallen. It is considering rule changes that include extending the length of fishing closures to try to protect areas where the fish spawn.

The commission is taking comments about the proposal until April 3.