NEW CONSERVATION RULES LEAVE MORE FISH IN THE WATER
The 2013 menhaden fishing season was a banner year – for Atlantic menhaden and the many marine animals that live off them.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission reports that landings of Atlantic menhaden last year were 25% below the total catch for 2012, the year before a new east coast menhaden conservation program took effect. The 2013 total was 168,019 metric tons, just under the total coast-wide quota of 170,800 tons.
“What that means is 56,602 tons of menhaden, or about 250 million of these vital forage fish, were left in the water to feed predators like striped bass, bluefin tuna, osprey and whales,” says Wild Oceans president Ken Hinman, a member of the ASMFC’s Menhaden Advisory Panel. He says the commission, and all its 15-member states, deserves credit, first for adopting the new, conservative catch limits and just as importantly, for coming together to keep the fishery within its first-ever coast-wide quota.
In 2012 the ASMFC lowered the commercial take of menhaden, for reduction and bait combined, to halt overfishing and increase availability as forage. 2013 was the first year under the new limits.
On May 15th, the interstate commission’s Menhaden Management Board, meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, will review implementation of the new conservation program as well as hear a progress report on a revised scientific assessment of the status of menhaden, due to be completed by the end of 2014.