Last year, we told you about the push to reform the management of a small, but critical fish, the menhaden. We spoke on behalf of the menhaden at a hearing before the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. (ASMFC) last fall, and with your help we achieved a goal last year in the exceedingly slow management reform process. The ASMFC heard from more than 90,000 concerned citizens and initiated a new management plan ending the overfishing of menhaden while rebuilding the menhaden population to levels not seen in decades. This was great news and long overdue. At the ASMFC meeting next month we’ll hear about the strategies in the plan which aim to meet these revised management goals. Included in this critical reform of menhaden fisheries is a total catch limit and reducing the catch to not exceed these new limits in order to increase the population of menhaden.
This marks the first time there has ever been a meaningful limit on how much menhaden can be caught. It’s almost unbelievable that it has taken into the 21st century to actively manage such an important forage species.
If the ASMFC follows through on their commitment to reform menhaden management it will take us one step closer to once again having menhaden fulfill their role as the “most important fish in the sea” as prey for striped bass, blue fish, sea birds, whales and a myriad of other species. I say IF they follow through. After all, there’s a lot of political pressure and lobby dollars pushing the ASMFC to delay reform allowing Omega Protein to continue plundering menhaden, all for one company’s profit. That’s where you can help by asking the ASMFC to not delay by passing the draft plan on August 8th and send it out for public comment thereby setting the stage to make it final at their following meeting. After working to get to this point for more than a decade let’s not allow the ASMFC backslide now.