For such a tiny fish, the menhaden's impact on the Bay is gigantic - the Bay's ecosystem depends on it as a primary food source.
But right now, overfishing has left the menhaden population at its lowest level on record. This jeopardizes other Bay species like striped bass, osprey, and loons.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is considering new fishing rules to ensure long-term protection of this invaluable fish. It's accepting public comment until November 16.
We're pushing fair and reasonable limits and fishing rules that protect the menhaden without financially penalizing local fishermen.
We have to come together to make our voices heard before the November 16 deadline, so take action today! Tell the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to act without delay to save the menhaden and protect the Bay.
I appreciate this opportunity to share with you my views on draft Amendment 2 to the Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden. The depleted condition of the menhaden population and ongoing overfishing of this critical species are serious problems that undermine our coastal ecosystem and fisheries. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is to be commended for developing a new management plan that will eventually lead to an increase in the menhaden population, more jobs for our local coastal communities, and a healthier ecosystem.
My comments on specific options in the draft amendment are listed below:
- ASFMC should adopt Section 2.5, Option B, which will set spawning stock reference points consistent with the existing fishing rate reference points.
- ASFMC should adopt Section 2.6.2, Option C, to reduce the current fishing rate to the target rate within 5 years.
- ASMFC should adopt Section 4.2.1, Option B, to use a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) to limit the harvest.
- ASMFC should adopt Section 126.96.36.199, Option A, which specifies setting a TAC through an "ad-hoc" approach. The multiplier used under that approach should be 0.75, and the catch should be allocated 30% bait and 70% reduction.
- ASMFC should adopt Section 4.2.2, Option C, to adjust the Chesapeake Bay Cap consistent with the quota management approach selected.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on these proposals. The adoption of strong conservation measures included as options in this amendment will set a course to better manage our menhaden population. Further, it will ensure the fish can fulfill their ecological role while continuing to support the livelihoods dependent on it.