On November 13 and 14, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) met and voted 16-2 to continue managing Atlantic menhaden as a single, commercially harvested species, despite thousands of comments from anglers, coastal businesses and others urging the Commission to take a more conservative management approach.
However, the Commission also voted to continue the development of menhaden-specific Ecological Reference Points (ERP’s), which will eventually shift management of menhaden to better account for their role in the ecosystem as forage for important predator species, like striped bass, bluefin tuna and summer flounder.
Recent stock assessments show that menhaden are not overfished and are not undergoing overfishing, according to the single species model. However, those assessment results do not account for the amount of menhaden that should be left in the water to provide adequate forage for other species of fish – many of which are both commercially and recreationally important – and wildlife. The ERP’s will attempt to answer those questions and recognize menhaden’s importance as a keystone prey species. They are expected to be completed in 2-5 years.
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?