WASHINGTON, DC / ACCESSWIRE / August 5, 2019 / It is the long-standing view of the members of the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition (MFC) that the quota for Atlantic menhaden should have been raised substantially in 2017 due to the documented strength of the stock in the last assessment. However, contrary to the claims of some activists from special interest groups, MFC members will not be pursuing a quota increase at this week’s meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) out of respect for the Commission’s ongoing work on ecological reference points (ERPs).
“Our long-standing commitment to the sustainability of Atlantic menhaden has repeatedly been confirmed by the best available science,” said Jeff Kaelin, government relations coordinator at Lund’s Fisheries, an MFC member based in New Jersey. “While that science supports a substantial increase in the quota right now, we look forward to the Commission’s conclusions on ERPs, which will help guide management moving forward.”
The findings of the ASMFC’s 2017 update stock assessment and the 2014 benchmark stock assessment clearly indicate that Atlantic menhaden is thriving up and down the Atlantic Coast. The 2017 assessment again indicated that the menhaden population is not overfished nor is overfishing occurring. Additionally, the assessment showed mortality rates have remained below the overfishing threshold since the 1960s, and fishing mortality has been decreasing throughout the history of the fishery.
An analysis conducted by ASMFC scientists in 2016 showed that the menhaden quota could be increased by up to 40 percent with a 0 percent chance of leading to overfishing. Another analysis by the MFC using data from the ASMFC’s 2017 stock assessment found that the fishery already leaves 92 percent of fish in the water to serve their ecological role.
“There are numerous positive signs for the health of the menhaden fishery,” said Ben Landry, director of public affairs at Omega Protein, an MFC member based in Virginia. “That’s why Omega Protein is pursuing certification of the fishery’s sustainability by the highly respected Marine Stewardship Council, a process that is nearing its conclusion.”
Even though all current signs indicate a menhaden quota increase is warranted, industry stakeholders are supportive of efforts to better understand the role Atlantic menhaden play in the ecosystem. Therefore, while the ASMFC Biological and Ecological Reference Points (BERP) workgroup continues its work developing ERPs for the menhaden fishery, the MFC will not request a quota increase at this week’s meeting.
Multiple ASMFC Commissioners have stated that increasing the quota in past years was premature and that we should wait until the ERPs are conducted. MFC members believe the same should be true for any potential reallocation of the current quota at this week’s meeting.
About the MFC
The Menhaden Fisheries Coalition (MFC) is a collective of menhaden fishermen, related businesses, and supporting industries. Comprised of businesses along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition conducts media and public outreach on behalf of the menhaden industry to ensure that members of the public, media, and government are informed of important issues, events, and facts about the fishery.
SOURCE: Menhaden Fisheries Coalition
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