by Ken Hinman
The Commission responsible for conserving Atlantic menhaden is seeking public comment on changes to the way this important east coast forage fish is managed with respect to its role in the ecosystem, as well as revisiting how the catch is allocated among fisheries from Maine to Florida.
A Public Information Document (PID) is available for review and comment through January 4, 2017, at www.asmfc.org/about-us/public-input. Gathering the views of the public through the PID, which presents a range of issues and options, is the first step in preparing Amendment 3, slated for completion next year.
We urge you to express your views to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) using the address on its web site or sending an email to email@example.com (subject line: Menhaden PID). Tell the commission how important it is to you and your fishing that there is an abundance of menhaden in the water, and support the use of “ecological reference points” to set population targets and catch limits. To this end, the fishing and conservation communities are strongly backing Option D under Issue 1 – Reference Points.
FACT: The amount of fish in the water and available to predators is the key measure of a healthy population of any prey fish, including and especially Atlantic menhaden.
FACT: Despite signs that menhaden are not being over fished in terms of meeting the needs of the menhaden fisheries, the needs of menhaden predators and the ecosystem are not being accounted for with the population targets and fishing limits currently used by fishery managers.
FACT: A large and diverse group of marine ecologists agree that leaving as much as 75% of the un-fished population or biomass in the water each year, and never less than 40% of the un-fished level, significantly minimizes adverse impacts to predators and enhances abundance throughout the population’s natural coast-wide range, while still providing substantial ongoing yields to fisheries.
Now’s the chance we’ve all been waiting for, to get behind a plan to conserve Atlantic menhaden and its many predators and the fisheries menhaden support long into the future. PLEASE CONTACT THE ASMFC TODAY!