Thursday, August 4, 2022

Managers Decide Menhaden are Just Fine, Thanks

The ASMFC decided they did a good job. With Ecosystem-Based Reference Points in Place, Atlantic Menhaden Assessment Again Shows Fishery Healthy, Sustainable, Not Overfished

The latest Atlantic menhaden stock assessment accepted today by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) confirms once again that Atlantic menhaden is healthy, not overfished, and that overfishing is not occurring. Significantly, this assessment was completed using new ecological reference points, standards that account for the needs of predator species when determining menhaden's sustainable status.

Atlantic menhaden are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, according to the latest ASMFC stock assessment using ecological reference points.

In the past, single-species stock assessments that found menhaden to be healthy and not overfished were criticized by some for not taking into account interdependencies between species. The ASMFC's ecosystem-based reference points were developed over years, with support from industry, recreational fishermen, and environmental groups, to move away from managing species in isolation and consider the needs of predator species and the ecosystem as a whole.

Two years ago, the consideration and adoption of these ecological reference points were publicly praised by numerous sportfishing and conservation groups including:
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
American Sportfishing Association
Coastal Conservation Association Maryland
Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
Pew Charitable Trusts

Today, using these stricter standards that incorporate the forage needs of predators, the new assessment has found that the menhaden fishery is sustainable, and that menhaden fishing does not negatively affect predator populations.

Despite this scientific finding, recreational special interests are continuing a campaign to end the menhaden fishery in the Chesapeake Bay.

To say I'm skeptical would be an understatement. I recall a time when huge schools of large Menhaden cruised the waters here. In the last few years, we see mostly small pods of juvenile Menhaden, so called "peanut bunker".

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