CBF Statement on ASMFC Menhaden Actions This Week

(LINTHICUM, MD)—The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Menhaden Management Board took the following actions on Monday and Tuesday:

  • Decreased the Chesapeake Bay Reduction Fishery harvest cap by 41.5 percent, to 51,000 metric tons;
  • Increased the coastwide menhaden catch limit for 2018 by 8 percent, from 200,000 metric tons to 216,000 metric tons;
  • Prohibited quota rollovers that allow unfilled yearly quotas to be caught the following year, potentially inflating the catch, and;
  • Rejected putting in place interim conservation measures that would have better accounted for menhaden's role in the food chain, known as ecological reference points.

In response, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued the following statement.

"There was a significant victory for conservation at ASMFC this week, despite our disappointment that the Commission will not immediately adopt catch limits based on menhaden's role in the food chain. Reducing the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery harvest cap protects an important nursery ground.

"The ASMFC also prohibited quota rollovers, a longstanding concern because they can inflate catches to unsustainable levels. These are important steps in the right direction, and reflect the overwhelming public concern apparent this week.

"Though the ASMFC approved an eight percent increase in the total coastwide menhaden catch, it warded off calls for much higher limits.

"The biggest setback is the lack of interim management standards that make sure enough menhaden are left to serve their key role in the ecosystem. Menhaden are a crucial food for everything from striped bass to osprey to humpback whales. That's why we must look at the big picture when managing the menhaden fishery. This will lead to not only a healthier Bay, but also benefit anglers, birders, whale watchers, and so many others. As the ASMFC works on this ecosystem-based approach, CBF will continue our push to implement these new standards as soon as possible."

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