Mr. Spud Woodward
Atlantic Menhaden Management Board
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
1050 North Highland Street, Suite 200 A-N
Arlington, Virginia 22201
Dear Chair and Members of the Atlantic Menhaden Management Board,
As members of the recreational fishing and boating community, we encourage the Atlantic Menhaden Management Board to adopt Ecological Reference Points (ERP) for menhaden in August for implementation in the 2021 fishing season. We appreciate the efforts by the Board and the ERP Working Group to explore a complete range of alternative ERP scenarios since the February Board meeting. These additional analyses enable the Board to confidently adopt science-based ERPs that will help important recreational species like striped bass rebuild to its target biomass level—a goal that we all share.
The recreational fishing and boating community previously expressed support for the “example ERP” from the ERP Working Group Report. This reference point allows striped bass to reach its biomass target, while assuming other species are at status quo. Now with the benefit of additional scenarios for consideration, the Board can more confidently select an ERP that is responsive to the status of the ecosystem.
All stakeholders would like to see striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, dogfish and herring reach their biomass targets as soon as possible, and a conservative approach to menhaden management will help to assure this outcome. We also support ongoing efforts by the species-specific management Boards to reduce fishing mortality and rebuild the fisheries deemed overfished and/or experiencing overfishing. We view the adoption of ERPs by the Atlantic Menhaden Management Board as a complimentary action to the species-specific Boards addressing the goals and objectives of their respective FMPs.
As stated in our February letter, in 2017, “the Board placed the development of menhaden-specific ecological reference points as its highest priority”1. This priority continues to provide a clear path to implementing ERPs at the August meeting and is supported by (1) the recent U.S. Secretary of Commerce decision backing ASMFC’s authority and responsibility to conserve menhaden for the broader ecosystem (2) the 2019 Atlantic menhaden Single-Species and ERP Benchmark Stock Assessments passing peer review, (3) the full range of ERP options provided by the ERP WG and the Technical Committee.
Over the past decade, recreational fishing organizations, coastal businesses and hundreds of thousands of individual anglers and conservationists have called on managers to leave enough menhaden in the water to feed the wildlife that support vibrant recreational fishing, boating and other industries that boost coastal economies. As stewards of our shared public resources, we are partners in the ASMFC process and share a unified goal of healthy fish populations and fishing communities. We urge the Board to follow through on their commitment to implementing ERPs as the next logical step in menhaden management and commend them and the ERP Working Group for completing a ten plus year effort that has focused on improving the management and science of this critical forage fish.
American Sportfishing Association
Center for Sportfishing Policy
Baton Rouge, LA
Coastal Conservation Association
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
President and CEO
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
National Marine Manufacturers Association
1Atlantic Menhaden Board, November Meeting Summaries, Press Releases and Motions, November 13 & 14, 2017,
Accessed January 21, 2020.