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MENHADEN ACTION ALERT-CCA VIRGINIA

The ASMFC Menhaden Management Board will meet to discuss the next steps for menhaden management based on the results of benchmark stock assessment and possible ecological reference points for menhaden on Tuesday, May 5th, at the Westin Hotel, 400 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 at 8:00 am.

The menhaden benchmark stock assessment was just based on the coastal stocks of menhaden with no consideration of the nutrition needs of predator species like striped bass, weakfish, bluefish, blue crabs, sea birds and a host of other species. Currently Virginia has 85% of the coast wide Quota. New Jersey has the second most, and the remaining states share the rest. CCA Virginia has been calling for reductions in the Menhaden Fishery since 2001. We believe it is too early to consider any changes.

The Chesapeake Bay is a small estuary area compared to coastal areas from Maine to Florida, yet the commercial menhaden harvest in the Bay is approximately 300,000,000 pounds on an annual basis compared to the total coastal quota for menhaden at 376,549,574 pounds.

ASMFC just took action to reduce mortality of striped bass, yet many are ready to increase the harvest of the very best forage to fuel any striped bass recovery. It is estimated that approximately 70% of the striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay suffer from a wasting disease (Mycobacteriaosis) that can be tied to lack of proper nutrition. Approximately 85% of the menhaden harvested by the reduction industry in the Chesapeake Bay are two years old or younger (8 inches or less), the size that used to be the premier forage food for striped bass. Weakfish have all but disappeared, and signs point to the fact that juvenile weakfish have become a primary prey item as a replacement for menhaden. There are too many menhaden being removed from the Chesapeake Bay. Large schools of bluefish no longer enter the Bay in the spring; probably because of the lack of menhaden forage in the Bay. Virginia anglers no longer see the large schools of menhaden that they saw in the Chesapeake Bay in the late 90's and early 2000's. What can Virginia recreational saltwater anglers do about this deplorable situation?

See map below to see that most of the purse-seine sets were made in Virginia waters during 2013.

image008.jpg

TAKE ACTION ON MENHADEN

1. Attend the ASMFC Menhaden Management Board meeting in Alexander on May 5th starting at 8:00 am to support efforts to persuade the Menhaden Management Board to adopt interim Ecological Reference Points(accounting for the needs of predators) when making decisions about the 2015 quota and initiate an amendment to transition to long-term ecological management of menhaden. In addition, keep the current menhaden catch limits in place. Increasing the coast-wide menhaden catch without consideration of the cost to predators would be irresponsible. The Commission(ASMFC) just made a difficult decision to reduce the striped bass catch to address a decline. Other Atlantic menhaden predators that are important for recreational and commercial fishing include highly-depleted weakfish, cod and Bluefin tuna. The Commission must provide enough food for the predator population to rebuild and thrive, and avoid future quota cuts. If there are enough people interested from Virginia to attend the meeting then we may be able to charter a bus to travel to the meeting. If you are interested in riding a bus to the meeting then send an email to [email protected] stating that you would like to ride the bus to the meeting and leave your contact information. Anglers that attend the meeting in support of our position will receive a one of a kind T-Shirt, continental breakfast, and discussion after the meeting concerning the outcome then back on the bus to return home.

The Westin Alexandria

400 Courthouse Square
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

703.253.8600

2. Send emails to Virginia's delegation to the Menhaden Management Board and the Menhaden Management Board asking them to vote at the meeting to adopt interim Ecological Reference Points(accounting for the needs of predators) when making decisions about the 2015 quota and initiate an amendment to transition to long-term ecological management of menhaden. In addition, keep the current menhaden catch limits in place. Increasing the coast-wide menhaden catch without consideration of the cost to predators would be irresponsible. CCA Virginia requests that you take a few minutes to send a letter to ASMFC supporting maintaining the Status quo on the total allowable catch of Menhaden and adopt interim Ecological Reference Points for the menhaden stock.

A personal letter in your own words concerning the Menhaden issue would be the best way to communicate your desires regarding the fishery. If you do not have the time for a personal letter then there is a sample letter provided below.

Virginia delegation to ASMFC Menhaden Management Board:

John M.R. Bull, Commissioner
[email protected]
VA Marine Resources Commission
2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607-4317
Tel: 757.247.2269

Ongoing Proxy: Rob O'Reilly

Catherine W. Davenport
[email protected]
1005 Poplar Neck Road
White Stone, VA 22578
Tel: 804.435.2173

Ongoing Proxy: Kyle Schick

Senator Richard H. Stuart
[email protected]
Senate of Virginia, 28th District
P.O. Box 1146
114 Polk Street
Montross, VA 22520
Tel: 804.493.8892

Ongoing Proxy: Kyle Schick

Menhaden Management Board:

Mike Waine

mailto:[email protected]

Menhaden Fishery Management Plan Coordinator

ASMFC

1050 N. Highland St. Suite 200 A-N

Arlington, VA 22201

Draft CCA Virginia letter

Dear,

CCA Virginia members and other anglers has been actively involved in Menhaden issues since 2001. We applaud the historic action taken by ASMFC in December 2012, to reduce the coast wide catch of Menhaden by 20%. Despite recent reports we do not believe the Menhaden bio-mas has recovered to anything near their historical levels.

CCA Virginia does not support any action that would increase the total allowable catch or undo any of the restrictions enacted in December 2012. It is too soon to increase the quota and risks a whiplash reaction if future assessments indicate further decline. Additionally, there has been no allowance made for the ecological impact of Menhaden as forage for other species such as striped bass. We are aware selected states far exceeded their quota for Menhaden and that Virginia has the largest share of the Quota. We believe a reallocation of the current coast wide quota is more justified vs. raising the total coast wide quota.

Accordingly, CCA Virginia urges the Menhaden Management Board to:

1. Maintain the Status Quo on the Coast wide Total Allowable Catch for Menhaden. Keep the current menhaden catch limits in place

2. Adopt interim Ecological Reference Points (accounting for predator needs, such as Striped Bass) when making decisions about the 2015 quota and initiate an amendment to transition to long -term ecological management.

Classic fishery management calls for the conservation of spawning stock biomass in order to increase recruitment. While this is important for menhaden, managers must add their ecological role, particularly of young menhaden, as forage into the management equation. Restoring abundance must be as important as conserving spawning stock biomass. Thus prudent management at this time must include keeping the current catch limits in place unless and until abundance is restored.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

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 [email protected]. 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.
 
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