In this June 4, 2005, file photo, alewives make their way up the Damariscotta Mills fishway, in Nobleboro, Maine. Alewives, also known as river herring, once appeared headed to the endangered species list, but the little fish appear to be slowly coming back in the rivers and streams of the East Coast. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

PORTLAND, Maine — The federal government says two species of herring are not at risk of going extinct, and will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the government has finished a review of the status of alewife and blueback herring and decided against designating the fish as endangered or threatened. The fish live on the East Coast and are an important piece of the food chain.

NOAA says river herring such as alewives and bluebacks “have declined from historical numbers,” but recent management efforts have helped protect the fish.

Both species have historically been subject to commercial fishing because they are valuable as bait. The fishery for another herring species, Atlantic herring, is much larger and is also under scrutiny by regulators and environmentalists.