Management Not Process
A letter and public comment from MSSA’s Menhaden Committee Chair, Charlie Hutchinson, to the ASMFC Menhaden Management Board meeting August 3, 2010 @ 3:00 P.M.
Dear Management Board-
Just once I would like to come to one of these sessions and be able to be complimentary in my remarks. Unfortunately today is not that day. I will say we are gratified to know that the Board has now publicly recognized that the present management methodology for menhaden is not working. We have not, however, great expectations that there will be a serious departure from the same rules, procedures and methods that got us in this mess in the first place. We say this because having indicated that you want new standards to work with, no guidance was given to your Technical Committee in terms of an objective to be reached for abundance. The role they were asked to fill in 90 days was unrealistic and obviously would not be met. Whether your purpose was to wake them up to devise a plan or what you intended is not clear.
On June 19 of this year the Obama administration released its report and resulting National Oceans policy which also includes coastal waters. It was clear in that rather lengthy statement of facts and purposes that changes have to be made in the way we manage resources. Two credos were expressed repeatedly. One, fisheries must be managed to be sustainable and, second, ecological methodology must be employed.
We are experiencing an unsustainable fishery in menhaden. The chart of radical shrinkage in the abundance of menhaden shows us clearly the result of our present practices. Yet you turn to an advisory group who seem wedded to the continuation of single species management and whose advice has contributed much to the demise of this forage fish. Who is managing the store here?
If you have not gotten the message previously, I think our view represents what the public wants to happen. First, they want management for results, not process. Second, and specific to menhaden, they want to manage for abundance. Third, use the scientific community to determine how to reach the objective, not determine the objective. Forth, put this whole exercise on a fast track.
We don’t want to see another weakfish story where result was held hostage to process.
Charles Hutchinson, M.S.S.A
To read all of Charlie Hutchinson’s writings titled, The Menhaden Muddle Series.