Setting the first harvest quota since a groundbreaking change to menhaden fishery management, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Menhaden Management Board today voted to cut the coastwide menhaden harvest by 10 percent, establishing a quota of 194,400 metric tons for the 2021 and 2022 fishing seasons.
In August the ASMFC committed to using Ecological Reference Points, a better representation of the value of the species to the ecosystem, in its menhaden fishery management plans. This comes after 25 years of effort by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), its conservation partners, and the ASMFC to formally consider the importance of menhaden to predators.
CBF Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued the following statement.
“This continues ASMFC’s efforts to manage menhaden not only for their economic value, but their more important value as food for so many other species. This lower harvest limit aims to leave enough menhaden in the water to help them fulfill their key role in the food chain both along the Atlantic Coast and in Chesapeake Bay.
“Actions such as this are particularly important given the continued struggles of the striped bass population. The new lower limit will help ensure that striped bass will have an abundance of forage, which is vitally important to a successful rebound of this population. The new quota will also support a healthier ecosystem for a variety of fish, bird, and marine mammal species that fuel the success of many local businesses.”