Pacific herring are found throughout the coastal zone from northern Baja California on the North American coast, around the rim of the North Pacific Basin to Korea on the Asian coast. In California, herring are found offshore during the spring and summer months foraging in the open ocean. The largest spawning aggregations in California occur in San Francisco and Tomales bays. Beginning as early as October and continuing as late as April, schools of adult herring migrate inshore to bays and estuaries to spawn. Schools first appear in the deep water channels of bays, where they can stay for up to two weeks as their gonads mature, they then move into shallow areas to spawn. Most spawning areas are characterized as having reduced salinity with calm and protected waters. Spawning-substrate such as marine vegetation or rocky intertidal areas are preferred but man-made structures such as pier pilings and riprap are also frequently used spawning substrates in San Francisco Bay.
Opportunities for Public Involvement and Input
For information on development of the California Pacific Herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP) or to report a Pacific herring spawn please contact:
Ryan Bartling, Environmental Scientist
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
5355 Skylane Blvd., Suite B
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Office: (707) 576-2877
Fish and Game Commission Regulatory Process and California Environmental Quality Act
San Francisco Bay Pacific herring commercial fishery regulations are typically updated annually using the most recent spawning biomass information by the California Fish and Game Commission. In addition, potential environmental impacts of the fishery are addressed each year in an environmental document, in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Both the regulatory and CEQA processes provide the public with several opportunities each year to provide input to CDFW and the Commission on the management of California's Pacific herring resource.