Ken Hinman from National Coalition for Marine Conservation Take on ASMFC Menhaden Action at Recent Meeting

On March 22nd the ASMFC Menhaden Management Board voted (15-1) to initiate Addendum V to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden.  The intent of the addendum is to improve stock productivity and increase abundance from current levels, using a new overfishing threshold of 15% MSP (maximum spawning potential).  The addendum will include a suite of management measures to achieve a new target reference point, which is as yet undefined.  (Targets are typically set safely above the threshold level in order to minimize risk of exceeding it.)

Recognizing the Addendum is an interim action, the motion also tasks the Menhaden Technical Committee (working with the Multispecies TC) with continuing work on a multispecies (ecosystem) approach using the MSVPA as a priority.  During discussion of the motion, the Management Board agreed on the need to establish ecosystem management goals to assist the TC in developing ecological reference points for long-term management of menhaden.

An amended motion to include in the Addendum a broader range of optional reference points – 15%, 25% and 40%MSP – failed in a close vote (6-8).

While we are disappointed the Board did not see fit to allow the public to consider and comment on the full range of more conservative options (which were included in the August 2010 motion), the Addendum initiated at this meeting could provide a number of conservation benefits for menhaden:  1) the first Atlantic coast-wide catch limits on a fishery that has grown in recent years outside Chesapeake Bay, where fishing has been capped since 2006; 2) an end to overfishing, which occurred in 2008 and in many previous years, under the old, inadequate reference points; 3) a sizable increase in spawning stock abundance, which could increase available forage for menhaden predators and improve chances for good recruitment under favorable environmental conditions; and 4) development of ecosystem goals for future management.

Ken Hinman
President, National Coalition for Marine Conservation

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One Response to Ken Hinman from National Coalition for Marine Conservation Take on ASMFC Menhaden Action at Recent Meeting

  1. dan says:

    i commend your efforts in addressing this environmental disaster and offer the following thoughts. My organization ,the jamaica bay ecowatchers, has just recently settled an agreement with the NYC Department of Environemental Protection in which the threat of our lawsuit, brought on our behalf by the NRDC suing the city of ny under the clean water act, resulted in an agreement that will cost the city $115,000,000 to address the nitrogen loading of the bay. I would think that as other municipalities struggle to reduce their nitrogen loading,(from the waste water treatment plants) as it creates the harmful algae blooms they would want to consider the impact that the reduction in Menhaden is having on these esutaries. THese cities and towns may be interested in assisting the effort to curb the current unregulated taking of the Menhaden as it is costing them millions to artificially create the same type of filtering processes to reduce the harmful algae blooms.

    dan mundy

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