States Schedule Hearings On Interstate Fishery Plan for Atlantic Menhaden

Pictured above: purse seine boat fishing for menhaden

The Atlantic coastal states of Maine through Florida have scheduled their hearings to gather public comment on Draft Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden.

Draft Amendment 3 seeks to manage the menhaden resource in a way that balances menhaden’s ecological role as a prey species with the needs of all user groups. To this end, the Draft Amendment considers the use of ecosystem reference points (ERPs) to manage the resource and changes to the allocation method. In addition, it presents a suite of management options for quota transfers, quota rollovers, incidental catch, the episodic events set aside program, and the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery cap.

Maine Dept. of Marine Resources
October 5, 2017; 6 PM
Yarmouth Town Hall
200 Main Street
Yarmouth, ME
Contact: Pat Keliher at 207.624.6553

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
October 3, 2017; 7 PM
Urban Forestry Center
45 Elwyn Road
Portsmouth, NH
Contact: Cheri Patterson at 603.868.1095

Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
October 2, 2017; 6 PM
Thayer Public Library, Logan Auditorium
798 Washington Street
Braintree, MA
Contact: Nichola Meserve at 617.626.1531

October 5, 2017; 6 PM
Bourne Community Center, Room 2
239 Main Street
Buzzards Bay, MA
Contact: Nichola Meserve at 617.626.1531

Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife
October 4, 2017; 6 PM
University of Rhode Island Bay Campus
Corless Auditorium, South Ferry Road
Narragansett, RI
Contact: Robert Ballou at 401.222.4700 ext: 4420

The 2015 Benchmark Stock Assessment Report identified the development of ERPs as a high priority for Atlantic menhaden management. Menhaden serve an important role in the marine ecosystem as prey for a variety of species including larger fish (e.g. weakfish, striped bass), birds (e.g. bald eagles, osprey), and marine mammals (e.g. humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins). As a result, changes in the abundance of menhaden may impact the abundance and diversity of predator populations, particularly if the availability of other prey is limited. ERPs provide a method to assess the status of menhaden within the broad ecosystem context. Draft Amendment 3 provides a variety of reference point options, including the continued development of menhaden‐specific ERPs as well as the application of precautionary guidelines for forage fish species.

Draft Amendment 3 also considers changes to the allocation method given concerns that the current approach may not strike an appropriate balance between gear types and jurisdictions. Specifically, under the current allocation method, increases in the total allowable catch (TAC) result in limited benefits to small‐scale fisheries, and to several states. Furthermore, the current method may not provide a balance between the present needs of the fishery and future growth opportunities. Draft Amendment 3 considers a range of allocation alternatives, including a dispositional quota (bait vs. reduction), fleet‐capacity quota (quota divided by gear type), jurisdictional quota, including a fixed minimum quota for each state, and an allocation method based on the TAC. In addition, the document considers five allocation timeframes including 2009‐2011, 2012‐2016, 1985‐2016, 1985‐ 1995, and a weighted approached which considers both historic and recent landings.

The Draft Amendment is available at http://www.asmfc.org/files/PublicInput/AtlanticMenhadenDraftAmendment3_PublicComment.pdf or on the Commission website, asmfc.org, under Public Input. Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the Draft Amendment either by attending state public hearings or providing written comment. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on October 20, 2017 and should be forwarded to Megan Ware, FMP Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A‐N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or at comments@asmfc.org (Subject line: Draft Amd. 3). If your organization is planning to release an action alert in response to Draft Amendment 3, please contact Megan Ware at 703.842.0740, so she can work with you to develop a unique subject line to enable us to better organize and summarize incoming comments for Board review.

Final action on the Amendment, as well as specification of the 2018 TAC, is scheduled to occur on November 13 & 14 at the BWI Airport Marriott, 1743 West Nursery Road, Linthicum, MD. For more information, please contact Megan Ware, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at mware@asmfc.org or 703.842.0740.

  1. Alan Dudas

    Keep commercial boats out of Raritan bay I have seen them illegally in the bay for the last 30 yrs and keep them further offshore

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  2. Bob C

    Chesapeake Bay needs to limit Omega, because not only do they catch too much bunker, but they also kill a lot of stripers in their nets, and Chesapeake is a breeding ground and very important to the survival of the bass. I have personally seen this in Narragansette Bay in R.I. Also, they will drop their nets in a school of pogies where a bunch of people are fishing causing havoc with both fisherman and bass. The people responsible for passing these laws and restrictions need to wake up.

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  3. Wayne Hill

    Greed- Bunker boats take, take, take, reverse that trend and take it all back from them. The wildlife bunker supports is more important than wallets.

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  4. R.E. Tremblay

    Put a moratorium on commercial bunkers slaughter. Where have all the snapper blue fish gone? Too few adult Blue fish. Not enough bunker.

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  5. carl m vining

    Keep the bunker boats at least three miles off open shoreline and out of Boston harbor entirely. They come in to harbor and beachs in the cover of darkness. If by any chance you are on a school of
    Bunker fishing with them the boats will just come in and push you out with no regard of your safety. Aren’t there any high ranking politicians who are fisherman who would want to help resolve this problem? You could get a lot of votes and support from the thousands of concerned fishermen.

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  6. Dleary

    IT seems like its moving in the right direction the last few years. Why not keep the quotas the same and keep the bunker boats off the beach.

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  7. Mike W

    1 company, Omega Protein, controls 80% of the menhaden catch. It is mostly used for fertilizer and animal feed. Without regard for the consequences of decimating the menhaden stocks the fish that rely on this food source will have to eat something else…oh wait they already took all the squid too.

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  8. Al

    Menhaden must be managed properly,I have seen what mismanagement can do {Virginia reduction boats amongst others ravaging Long Island Sound}. And I do not mean to the highest bidder!!

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  9. Sanford David

    Menhaden boats should be kept out of Narragansett Bay !! And not allowed to Devastate the menhaden population Again in Rhode Island again ever Agiain three mile out off the Rhode Island off the coast three miles .. We are just seeing the effects
    that the menhaden boats devastated are Menhaden population recovery

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  10. John Scagliarini

    For the first time in 20 years we had bunker off Plymouth area and in came the boat vacuumed them all up I thought things were getting better another great management job

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  11. Richard Strzepek

    I hope the ASMFC will accept simple comments such as: “Please adopt the most stringent management options to ensure the health of the Atlantic Menhaden stock. Also, how has Omega Seafoods obtained 80% of the commercial quota. This should be reduced significantly.” The draft amendment is 139 pages long, extremely detailed and loaded with acronyms. It’s very simple: Much less bunker, much less healthy game fish. Pure and simple.

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  12. c.c

    I know this won’t go over well with commercial guys, but I think the commercial fisheries needs a complete overhaul. I’m sick of watching draggers wipe out my fishing grounds of bait and game fish. Watching the draggers shovel bye catch and short fish over the side for crab bait. when are we going to figure out we are killing the oceans with over fishing. I’m fine with commercial rod and reel, but unattended nets and draggers are doing a number on all species of fish. I have friends that commercial fish. making these comments is not easy for me to say, I’m not supporting my family with commercial fishing. I’ve just seen numbers of all species of fish decline. I hate to say it but commercial netting and draggers are part of the problem. If we keep rasing quotas everytime numbers slightly go up we will never see stocks of fish get replenished to good numbers. Too many species of fish are being desimated by over fishing.

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  13. Joe Gomes

    It all seems to have been said by the folks above me and put very well. To take an extremely important food chain species and decimate it for cat food is not acceptable. The whole by-catch situation is unacceptable. After 200 years we don’t have a better way to catch fish?
    Greedy, unthinking, industrial over exploitation our natural resources. See the menhaden and remember the Buffalo! Humans can wipe out ANYTHING.

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  14. Thomas Vincent

    Just got home from the 2017 Striperfest and realized i didn’t get the web address for one of the vendors. He was making his own lures. As you face the stage, he was in the tent to the right. I think he was across from the vendor selling pictures of fish. Any. Help would be appreciated.

    Reply

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