The public comment period for the Public Information Document (PID) for Amendment 2 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden closed on April 20th, 2012. We thank all the more than 11,000 members of the public who submitted comments to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which will meet May 2nd in Alexandria, Virginia to consider what management measures should be included as options in draft Amendment 2. The purpose of Amendment 2, which will go out for another round of public review this fall, is to substantially reduce fishing mortality, currently more than 3 times higher than the new target level adopted by the ASMFC in 2011.
The National Coalition for Marine Conservation’s comments on the PID were guided by our vision of what we would like the Atlantic menhaden fisheries to look like in the future. First and foremost, because of menhaden’s critical role as food for other fish and wildlife, we would like the resource to be restored to and maintained at a level of abundance substantially higher than the conventional targets set for other marine fish, as recommended by a number of national and international bodies, most recently the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force.
We would like to see growth of the menhaden population so the species returns to its historic range, to areas where menhaden have not been seen in abundance for decades. With this growth, we would like to see the fisheries for menhaden distributed throughout the species’ geographic range, not concentrated in certain regions, especially in and near sensitive estuaries (e.g., Chesapeake Bay), and not dominated by industrial-scale fisheries for reduction or bait, but rather smaller-scale bait fisheries that support local commercial and recreational fisheries.
NCMC advocates a management strategy in Amendment 2 that would reduce fishing mortality, through coast-wide limits on landings, to the target level in as short a time as possible, in any case no more than three years, with a high probability (~75%) of success. Please see NCMC’s written comments covering each of the issues presented in the PID, including timely catch monitoring and reporting, recreational and commercial management options, and potential long-term social, economic and ecological benefits from restoring menhaden abundance.