A Question of Science is a Wild Oceans blog series addressing changes in how the health of Atlantic Menhaden, one of the most important prey fish in the sea, is assessed.
Scientific advice has played a critical role in recent decisions about how to conserve and manage Atlantic menhaden. As it should. But beginning with the 2015 benchmark stock assessment – the first conducted with the awareness that it would be used to regulate the fishery – on through the Commission’s halting move toward an ecosystem-based approach to management, science has been at the center of controversy, in particular the way it’s interpreted by the scientists advising the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
With another stock assessment underway in 2018-19, along with the invention of new models meant to produce ecological reference points, it’s worth reflecting on how the advent of changes in the way the east coast’s largest commercial fishery is regulated has affected both the science and the public’s confidence in it and, finally, where we go from here.