Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More Bad News for Menhaden

While menhaden will continue to be managed as they currently are for the time being, Delaware and other states across the East Coast will be able to catch more of the oily fish from 2018 to 2019.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to raise catch limits for menhaden along the East Coast to 216,000 metric tons — an 8 percent increase from last year.
I maintain that the stock estimates have at least a 10% error term, so I regard this as a de minimis increase.
The decision was based off of current menhaden mortality and spawning stock. In upcoming years, the board expects to increase the catch limits based off of how many menhaden are in the ocean and the role the species plays as a forage fish.

Limbo Voss uses menhaden as bait for blue crabs. He says he’s satisfied with the increase.

“The fact that they raised the quota indicates to me that the menhaden is not being overfished and they’re in pretty good shape,” Voss said.
Or that they listened to commercial watermen, who always want larger quotas, regardless of the population health.
But Voss says he’s still dissatisfied with terms in the new amendment allowing scientists to re-evaluate menhaden management in two years based on the health of other species. On Monday, the commission voted to continue to manage menhaden without considering their role in the ecosystem; meanwhile, scientists will come up with a benchmark in two years that measures the fish's health and abundance alongside the health of the cosystem.
But there is good news for the Menhaden in Chesapeake Bay:
Also part of the decision Tuesday – the commission chose to limit the amount of menhaden that can be caught in the Chesapeake Bay to 51,000 metric tons, down from 87,000 metric tons. Menhaden caught there are used as fishmeal or fish oil.
The commission acknowledged the bay as a nursery ground for many species that rely on menhaden for food.
So while they may not be officially managing Menhaden for their ecological value, they are at least considering it. A bit of progress.

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