The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has scheduled public hearings on proposed measures to conserve and restore Atlantic menhaden to levels of abundance not seen in decades. Public comment on Draft Amendment 2 to the Interstate Menhaden Fishery Management Plan, a vital step in rebuilding the population of this critical forage fish, will be accepted through November 16th.
Fishermen and conservationists are being asked to weigh in on options of reducing current catch levels by 10%, 20%, 25% or 50%. A 2012 stock assessment update affirmed that overfishing is occurring and that the stock is likely overfished according to the new, more conservative reference points adopted by the Commission last year to rebuild a population that is at an historic low.
The public is also being asked to comment on various options for allocating menhaden between the reduction fishery, based in the Virginia portion of Chesapeake Bay and taking mostly pre-spawning fish, and the bait fisheries spread along the coast as far north as Maine. The options will include 80/20 reduction-to-bait, 70/30, 60/40 or 50/50, balancing social, economic and ecological factors.
The ASMFC's Menhaden Management Board will accept public comment on Draft Amendment 2 at hearings and in writing through November 16th. For a copy of the draft amendment, public hearing dates and locations, and information on how to submit comments, go to www.asmfc.org/breakingnews
Final action will be taken on the new conservation measures at a special meeting December 14th in Baltimore, Maryland.
–– Source: SaveTheFish.org