by Charlie Hutchinson
At the 3/22 menhaden meeting there was much discussion about applying multi species technology to menhaden management. I was critical of that approach, not because it is technically inferior, but because I saw it as a means to defer action.. Getting action of substance on menhaden is a struggle without any more delay mechanisms. However we may have seen ASMFC multi species consideration at work during the proceedings on striped bass. If so, there is reason for concern.
When dealing with the menhaden issue much has been said about the relationship between striped bass and menhaden The decline in striped bass abundance has been related to the lack of adequate forage. The striped management board has just determined that the present fishing management plan needed to be amended to obtain a 40% decrease in fishing mortality for stripers . The major issue with menhaden abundance has been the lack of forage for the present number of predators. So, how does the Board plan to provide adequate nutrition for substantialy more striped bass? The increase in abundance of menhaden proposed for consideration by the 3/22 meeting doesn’t even remedy the present shortfall.
If this is multi species management ASMFC style, we are in for a complete collapse of our marine system . Most likely it is a failure of the Commissioners to understand what they are doing. Maybe it is time for Congress to take a hard look at how the ASMFC is functioning. As it stands now, their track record is dismal, and things have to change, Omega not withstanding.