Menhaden-need your help now-upcoming ASMFC meeting Charleston, SC
CCA VA ACTION ALERT
Menhaden ASMFC Alert
Menhaden at All Time Low – Request ASMFC Action
Tell the ASMFC:
“Protect Atlantic Menhaden!”
CCA Virginia urges saltwater anglers and others to contact the ASMFC, and request action to stop the decline of menhaden.
On November 8, the ASMFC Menhaden Management Board (MMB) will meet in Charleston, SC to consider actions for the management of Atlantic Menhaden.
CCA is asking the ASMFC to take a simple, common sense approach to menhaden management, and implement measures to stop the decline in menhaden abundance, and set the stage for menhaden being able to fulfill their ecological role as forage for fish, bird, and marine mammal predators. Decreasing fishing mortality is the best measure available to managers to achieve this goal. CCA is asking the ASMFC MMB to support the creation of an addendum that includes measures to halt the current decline in menhaden abundance, and puts them back on a path to increased abundance. (See background info below.)
Send your comments (letter or e-mail) by November 2 at 5pm so they can be considered at the November 8 meeting in Charleston, SC. Please include your name, address, phone number and email address so that your comments can be validated.
Your comments can be sent to:
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
Menhaden Management Board
1444 Eye Street
Washington, DC 20005
Click here for e-mail: Robert E. Beal
SAMPLE LETTER (An original letter is preferable):
1444 Eye Street
Washington, DC 20005
Members Menhaden Management Board:
According to your latest assessment, the coastal population of menhaden is at the lowest level ever recorded. Abundance has declined steadily since the early 1980’s, yet under current management practices, no action is required to address the decline. I find this to be an unacceptable situation for such a critical forage species.
I request that you create an addendum that establishes measures that will stop the decline in menhaden abundance, and set the stage for a restoration of their ability to fulfill their ecological role as forage for fish, bird, and marine mammal predators.
The ASMFC’s latest assessment shows that menhaden are at the lowest level ever recorded, in a time series that extends back more than 50 years. The abundance has declined steadily since the early 1980’s, yet under the current management regime, no action is required to address the decline. CCA finds this to be an unacceptable situation for such a critical forage species.
Most species are managed for Maximum Sustainable Yield (or its various proxies), which by its very definition implies a stock must be fished down to a level that maximizes the yield per recruit. Often that level is less than 50% of a virgin stock.
CCA believes menhaden should be managed differently, as commercial yield cannot be the only consideration. Menhaden are a keystone prey species for many important Atlantic finfish species, birds, and marine mammals, and must be managed in a manner that permits them to fulfill their role as a forage species … not merely for maximum harvest. Viewed in that light, every single menhaden is important, for in order to adequately fulfill their role in the ecosystem, menhaden must be abundant.
We therefore believe abundance, not yield, should be the primary objective of menhaden management.
While there may be environmental factors affecting menhaden abundance, none have been conclusively identified. It is likely that even if identified, managers can do little to change them. Managers can control fishing mortality, which is not insignificant. Currently removals include about 140,000 metric tons taken by the reduction fishery and about 40,000 metric tons caught in the bait fishery, together amounting to more than 400,000,000 pounds of menhaden. A reduction in fishing mortality could leave significant numbers of menhaden in the waters to better fulfill their primary ecological function.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will be receiving Technical Committee advice at its November meeting regarding the establishment of new reference points for menhaden, specifically using Percent Maximum Spawning Potential (MSP) as a reference point. Currently the stock is at less than 10% MSP, so increasing MSP to meet a higher target would require a reduction in fishing mortality. It is important to remember that MSP, while describing spawning stock, refers back to the abundance of an unfished stock, and is thus a useful management tool in restoring abundance.
CCA is asking the ASMFC to take a simple, common sense approach to menhaden management and implement measures to restore menhaden abundance. Decreasing fishing mortality is the best measure available to managers to achieve this goal. Please support the creation of an addendum that considers measures to halt the current decline in menhaden abundance and put them back on a path toward more abundance.
This CCA VA alert was provided as a public service by the Coastal Conservation Association Virginia (CCA VA). Feel free to forward it to your friends and associates. If you have any comments concerning this subject, send an email to info@CCAVA.org. CCA VA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose goal is sustainable saltwater fisheries for this and future generations. We are active in legislative, regulatory, and educational activities affecting marine resources. Please visit our website http://www.ccavirginia.org/ for more information.