5-Year Plan Offers Promising Future for Mid-Atlantic Fisheries

Tell the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council that You Support Their Commitment to Ocean Stewardship!

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is seeking public comment on a draft strategic plan that outlines the Council’s vision, mission and strategic goals for 5 years spanning 2014 through 2018.  Developed from extensive stakeholder outreach and feedback over the last two years, the plan reflects the clear desire of fishermen and the conservation-minded public to see fisheries managed in a manner that prioritizes protection of the ocean and fishery resources for future generations.   Specifically, the Council’s plan articulates a vision of:

Healthy and productive marine ecosystems supporting thriving, sustainable marine fisheries that provide the greatest overall benefit to stakeholders.

Six core values are listed as the belief system driving the plan’s contents: 1) Stewardship; 2) Integrity; 3) Effectiveness; 4) Fairness; 5) Competence; and 6) Clear Communication.  Based on these values, strategies and objectives are described in the areas of communication, governance, science and management.

“Throughout all areas of the plan, we are pleased to see a move to a more holistic management framework that can better address ecosystem impacts,” said Wild Oceans Executive Director Pam Lyons Gromen who served on the Council’s Visioning and Strategic Planning Working Group that helped construct the plan’s contents.  “We fully support the Council’s intent to incorporate ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) approaches that ensure habitat protection and species interactions, such as those between predator and prey, are taken into account when establishing policies and actions.”

Forage Fish Get Special Attention

Ecosystem-based management is an important theme within the plan, addressed explicitly in objectives under both science and management.  Notably, the plan endorses the continued development of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management Guidance Document, a project currently underway and expected to be completed in two years.  A number of workshops will be held to explore and develop management approaches that minimize adverse ecosystem impacts.   The first workshop on the topic of forage fish was held this past April.

As Wild Oceans (then NCMC) wrote to the Council at the start of their strategic planning process in 2012, “(t)hrough the Council’s Atlantic Mackerel, Squid and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan, the Council can take significant strides toward EBFM by accounting for and safeguarding the important ecological role that these forage species play in the ecosystem.”  Because they interact with so many predators that depend on them for food, forage fish conservation is the logical starting point in the evolution from single-species to ecosystem-based management.

Please take a minute to thank the Mid-Atlantic Council for its foresight in crafting a vision and strategic plan for Mid-Atlantic fisheries by clicking this link to our action alert.  Urge the Council to adopt the plan at its August meeting in Wilmington, DE and to continue the development of policies that protect the contribution of forage fish to a healthy ocean ecosystem.

Public comment will be accepted through July 19, 2013.  Click here to review the Draft 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, which is available on the Council’s website along with additional background information about the Visioning and Strategic Planning Project.

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