Tidal Fish Forum banner
1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,553 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By Karl Blankenship

The 2006 commercial menhaden catch in the Chesapeake Bay fell to its lowest level in decades, although overall Atlantic catches increased last year as commercial boats found many schools of larger fish off the coast.

Fisheries officials in January said preliminary figures indicate that about 65,000 metric tons of the oily fish were harvested in the Chesapeake last year, down from about 98,000 metric tons in 2005, and well below the 109,020 metric ton average between 2001 and 2005.

But overall Atlantic catches, which include the Bay figures, increased from 146,000 metric tons in 2005 to an estimated 157,000 metric tons last year, according to figures presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates catches of migratory fish.

Joe Smith, a fisheries biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service who tracks menhaden landings, said the Virginia-based commercial fishing fleet found menhaden to be scarce in the Bay in both the spring and fall.

They had better luck in Virginia ocean waters off the Eastern shore and Virginia Beach as well as federal waters more than three miles off the Mid-Atlantic coast where they found larger, older fish. “There was a tremendous showing of fish off Delaware and Jersey this year,” Smith said. “It doesn’t happen like that every year.”

In contrast, about half of the fish caught in the Bay consisted of smaller 1-year-old fish, Smith said. The industry usually targets larger, 2-year-old fish in the Chesapeake.

Smith said the large number of age-1 fish in 2006 may mean that production of young menhaden was high in 2005. “That, to me, signals a pretty strong year class coming through,” he said. “They should be back as twos this summer, and we may see more of our ‘normal’ distribution like we’ve seen in the previous decade or so with the majority of catches being twos in the Bay.”

Fishing in the Chesapeake by Omega Protein has become increasingly controversial as many recreational fishermen, and some scientists, say its Reedville, VA-based fishing fleet has reduced the Bay’s menhaden population, which are an important food source for striped bass.

The ASMFC’s menhaden stock assessment shows the coastwide population to be healthy, but the commission last year imposed an annual cap of 109,020 metric tons for the Bay, a number derived from the average of harvests from 2001–2005, while scientists study whether the fishery is causing “localized depletion” in the Chesapeake.

The fishery has become increasingly concentrated in the Bay over the last two decades, with as much as 75 percent of the total East Coast landings coming out of the Chesapeake in some years.

Bill Goldsborough, a fisheries scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation—one of a coalition of groups that has supported restrictions on Bay menhaden catches—said he believes the low 2006 reflected ongoing low abundance in the Bay, which he said is likely to continue.

“My sense is that the stock in the Bay is down on average and is continuing downward, and they won’t reach the cap this year, either,” he said.

When the fishery catches less than the cap, it is allowed to make up for the shortfall the following year, up to a maximum catch of 122,740 metric tons—which is how much can be caught in the Bay this year. If that number is reached, further catches will have to come from Virginia ocean waters or federal waters off the coast—most states have closed their waters to the menhaden fleet.

Measured by weight, menhaden are the largest commercial catch in the Bay. The cap only affects the “reduction fishery” operated by Omega Protein, which processes large numbers of menhaden into animal feed and other products. It does not affect smaller operations that catch the fish for bait.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,196 Posts
I would love to see a study done in the Md. portion of the bay through out the whole menhadon season. Just to see how many get thru those nets. With that much tonage coming from the bay waters. their is no wonder the number of menhadon in the upper bay is almost nonexistent and their numbers are down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,029 Posts
Maybe the fact that Omega was working hard offshore for bunker, it left more than usual numbers of bunker near the bay and that's why the NC ocean rockfish season was extremely slow?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,196 Posts
Well first off. The answer is not to kill stripers, to increase the number of menhaden. That's ridicules. Second their is no way I believe stripers are responsible for the up or down population of crabs. Their is a small foreign import that has taken over the inner harbor and spread all over the bay. I also believe these crabs, which we call stone crabs. That's not what they are called but we call them that. Are what fisherman are see in the striper mouths and stomachs. they get no bigger then your index finger nail. But looks just like a baby blue channel crab. They got here in the balices water of ships. The dnr knows what they are called and knows of them being here. They should do a study to see just how far these thing have spread. I know the stripers love them. I've caught striper in the harbor that were nearly exploding with them, they were so full of them. So until the state does look into it. I believe that is what most are seeing. I would all so sujust that no one blame striper for carbs being low or high until some one realy looks into this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,455 Posts
I am confused. Doesn't Omega say that the Bay and the Atlantic menhaden are the same population? And that what they harvest in the Bay is replaced by those ocean fish? If the Atlantic stock is healthy and coming into the Bay, they would be catching the same amount.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,553 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am confused. Doesn't Omega say that the Bay and the Atlantic menhaden are the same population? And that what they harvest in the Bay is replaced by those ocean fish? If the Atlantic stock is healthy and coming into the Bay, they would be catching the same amount.
Or Pollution flowing out of the bay, keeps the menhaden out in the ocean?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,553 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Could be. Still fewer fish is fewer fish. Low numbers of menhaden in the Bay should be a good enough reason for a reduction of effort/pressure/ harvesting in the Bay.
I thought the agreement that was worked out with the ASMFC was to much, as it was.
Should have been much less.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
798 Posts
You guys have it all wrong. This means that Omega is doing us all a service by keeping those
bunker populations at a minimal. According to them, the menhaden are just one more cause of pollution, in the bay, and they are looking out for all of us. Yaaaaay Omega!
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,553 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Mike your right on the money with that.
Walt

I attended the meeting in Annapolis on a hearing of the compromise. One of the fishing clubs all but kissed Omega and wished them well, while agreeing to a status quo on the harvest. What a joke that was. MSSA spoke for an outright ban of Omega from the bay.

There was a total of 25 people there including reporters.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,019 Posts
same sheet, different day

I attended the meeting in Annapolis on a hearing of the compromise. One of the fishing clubs all but kissed Omega and wished them well, while agreeing to a status quo on the harvest. What a joke that was. MSSA spoke for an outright ban of Omega from the bay.

There was a total of 25 people there including reporters.
Wow! Reds is supporting the "outright ban of Omega from the bay". What happened to his waterman buddies from VA? What will the waterman do for work? After all they feed the country, right?
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top