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Regional fishery managers have adopted limits on how much river herring can be caught by huge trawlers working New England waters. Populations of alewives and blueback herring, referred to collectively as river herring, are in historically bad shape, as are stocks of shad. These fish once supported a large commercial fishery, and they also have cultural importance up and down the coast because of the ‘‘herring runs’’ that occur when the fish return upriver to spawn. The caps proposed Thursday by the New England Fishery Management Council during their meeting on Cape Cod target so-called mid-water trawlers, which catch herring by pulling a large net between them. The caps limit the trawlers to a total of 500,000 pounds of river herring in three areas off New England. The caps must be approved by federal regulators.