A herring gull perches atop a derrick on the Portland waterfront. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

ROCKLAND, Maine — The federal government plans to require herring fishing boats to participate in industry-funded monitoring starting in April.

At-sea monitoring programs allow the government to collect important data that helps manage fisheries. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it intends to begin selecting vessels in the herring fishery for monitoring coverage on April 1.

NOAA said the plan could be altered by health mandates or travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. The agency said in a statement that some herring boats have the option of seeking an exempted permit to use electronic monitoring instead of at-sea monitoring.

The herring fishery is a major marine business on the East Coast, based mostly in Maine and Massachusetts. It has struggled in recent years due to new restrictions prompted by a drop in the population of herring.