Back in December 2012, I was among some 300 concerned citizens and fishermen who attended a meeting in Baltimore of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC) calling for menhaden conservation. This little baitfish’s precipitous decline had resulted in more starving and diseased striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Eastern seaboard. For the first time, the ASMFC established a coastwide catch limit and a 25 percent reduction in allowed landings of menhaden. As a result of that decision, it’s estimated that more than 600 million menhaden have been left in the ocean. Now industrial fishing lobbyists are seeking significant increases to their 2015 quota, no matter the impact on the larger fish like striped bass that depend upon them for food. It’s important we make our voices heard in advance of the meeting on April 28, by emailing Mike Waine at firstname.lastname@example.org. What follows are the latest “talking points” from the coastwide Menhaden Coalition.
— Dick Russell
On May 5, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC) will make pivotal votes about the 2015 Atlantic menhaden quota and could begin work to change future management, including conservation and allocation decisions. The ASMFC could increase the quota for this year with no understanding of the impact on predators like striped bass, or managers could adopt ecosystem goals and advance responsible management of this most important fish in the sea. Managers should not increase the 2015 quota for menhaden unless they leave enough in the ocean as food for predators. Current quota shortages should be addressed by reallocation or trading, not by sacrificing coastwide conservation.