In this July 8, 2015, file photo, herring are unloaded from a fishing boat in Rockland. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

Interstate fishing regulators are holding a series of public hearings in March about plans to try to better manage the fishery for Atlantic herring.

Herring are the subject of a major fishery on the East Coast, as the fish are used as food for humans and as bait for species such as lobsters. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission said in a statement that a recent assessment of the herring stock found downward trends in the health of the population.

Proposed changes to the way the fishery is managed would give regulators more flexibility when the quota for the fish is low, the commission said in a statement. The rule changes would apply to the inshore Gulf of Maine area.

The public hearings are scheduled for March 2 in Gloucester, Massachusetts; March 3 in Wakefield, Massachusetts; March 3 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and March 9 in Augusta, Maine.