After 25 years of work by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and partners, including Wild Oceans, The Nature Conservancy, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Coastal Conservation Association, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has taken the first step to formally consider the importance of menhaden to other predators, including striped bass, bluefish, and weakfish, in its management framework. This is the first time that ASMFC has committed to including Ecological Reference Points, the value of the species to the ecosystem, in its fishery management plans.
This is another important step in improving management of the menhaden population. This fall, ASMFC is expected to determine how the ecosystem considerations should affect harvest limits.
In response to today’s ASMFC decision, CBF President William C. Baker and Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued these statements.
William C. Baker said:
“This is a historic day for fisheries management. Menhaden have been called the most important fish in the sea for good reason. Menhaden are an essential part of the diet of numerous fish species including striped bass, along with dolphins, whales, osprey and other seabirds.
“We are grateful for the help of partner organizations, and the thousands of CBF members who have long supported this effort and enthusiastically participated in the fight to make this effort a success.”
Chris Moore said:
“ASMFC and its many stakeholders have long recognized the ecological importance of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay and along the entire Atlantic Coast. Appropriately accounting for the value of menhaden to a host of other species up and down the East Coast is long overdue, but the day has finally come. We wish to thank all of the organizations and individuals who have long focused on this effort and can share in this success.
“We look forward to continuing our work with ASMFC and other management bodies in order to ensure a thriving menhaden population is managed for the benefit of all the species that depend on it. This will support not only a healthier ecosystem but more economic opportunities for those businesses that rely on a robust menhaden population for their success."