Proper management at hand for Atlantic menhaden

By July 23, 2020Uncategorized

Voice support for management measures to protect ecological role

CCA has long identified menhaden as a priority species in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) management process. Over the past three decades, huge strides have been taken to remove industry control of the fishery. With the help of countless other groups and anglers in the conservation community, the ASMFC is finally at the critical moment to manage menhaden for their true ecological role – as a keystone forage species that helps drive the intricate food web on the Atlantic coast.

At its August 4-5 meeting, the ASMFC’s Menhaden Management Board will have the chance to adopt Ecological Reference Points (ERP) for menhaden that account for their ecological role. This means that, for the first time, the models used for management will not focus just on the health of the menhaden population. They will not focus just on the amount of spawning stock necessary to meet the population goals set for menhaden in a vacuum – or on the bare minimum number of menhaden that should be left in the water to satisfy one company’s ability to harvest millions of tons every year.

Instead, the models will take into account menhaden’s role as a critical forage species and determine the relationship between menhaden abundance levels and the abundance of the predators that feed on them, particularly striped bass. A win in August means that management will finally recognize that menhaden are one of the most critical, keystone species for a host of important predators, from bluefish to whales to osprey – the list goes on.

You can help push this landmark decision over the goal line in August by telling the Menhaden Management Board that you support ecological reference points for menhaden and ask them to do the same. The ASMFC is accepting public comment for its summer meeting via email at Submit your message with the subject line “ASMFC Summer Meeting: Menhaden ERPs” by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Tuesday, July 28 to make your voice heard, once and for all.

This has been a long, often-frustrating battle, but our conservation goals are in sight. Please take a few minutes today and urge the ASMFC to adopt Ecological Reference Points for menhaden and help us set a new course for conservation-minded management of the forage base.

Kevin Hickson

Author Kevin Hickson

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