National Coalition for Marine Conservation Weighs in on the Future of Menhaden

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.

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1 Response to National Coalition for Marine Conservation Weighs in on the Future of Menhaden

  1. Wendelin Giebel says:

    The management of the east coast menhaden stock should be removed from the ASMFC. ASMFC has for decades demonstrated repeatedly they are unable and unwilling to manage the stock to return their numbers to historic levels; they are merely watching a collapse that can only be likened to the Pacific Sardine fishery before it was taken over by NMFS. Atlantic menhaden should be closed, the management taken into NMFS and protections equal to the protections awarded to the Pacific Sardine should be put in place immediately…. not a year from now…. a few years from now or whatever tortured idiotic formula ASMFC is proposing. The Pacific Sardine fishery is an example of how states management of a migratory fish failed spectacularly. The sardine stock is in great shape now because NMFS stepped in and stopped all the nonsense.
    ASMFC failed to generate and publish a B zero for east coast menhaden. They are without any estimate of historic population size and are quite content to be allowed to depend on mythological population models and hideously complex a mathematical model that the state representatives do not understand, the technical committee members do not understand. The individuals responsible for protecting our stock don’t have the math skills to assess these ludicrous models. The peer review process awards this role to a handful of applied math mock Einsteins who are unwilling to state the obvious…. The ASMFC’s Mathematical King has no clothes. This is a pathetic display of incompetence. We should demand a B zero be estimated and the historic size of the stock be estimated immediately. There are hundreds of local accounts of the density of these animals in going back to the 1800’s. I have generated a graph based upon these accounts. If anybody would like a copy email me at

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