On October 20, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Atlantic Menhaden Management Board voted to reduce the Atlantic menhaden quota by 10 percent for the 2021 and 2022 fishing years, representing the first management action as a result of the new ecological reference points (ERP) approach to ensure anglers leave enough menhaden in the water for striped bass and other predators. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined a coalition of angling and boating groups in a letter urging the ASMFC to take a conservative approach based on the new ERP’s prior to the ASMFC meeting last week.
“While it may seem like a small step, this slight reduction in the menhaden quota for the next two years is the first time menhaden have been recognized, using the new science-based ERP’s, as an essential component of the marine ecosystem,” said Chris Horton, CSF’s Fisheries Policy Director. “As the Atlantic striped bass population begins to rebuild, it’s critical they have enough forage available to get there.”
Prior to this decision, menhaden were managed as a single stock fishery, like many other marine fish species. However, menhaden are an essential source of forage for many predatory fish, sea birds and marine mammals. A single stock approach does not account for any necessary reductions in the harvestable quota to ensure a sustainable prey source for recreationally important species, like striped bass, bluefish and weakfish.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?