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Public comment sought on draft AMD 3 to Atlantic Menhaden FMP

ALEXANDRIA, VA – At its Nov. 13-14 meeting, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Atlantic Menhaden Management Board will vote on Draft Amendment 3 to the Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Management Plan.

AMD 3 was initiated in 2015 to address menhaden’s role as forage fish, consider changes to allocation of quota, and consider other management strategies intended to streamline regulations.

“There were two impetuses to the amendment,” said Megan Ware, plan coordinator for Atlantic menhaden.

“First was consideration of ecological reference points which look at menhaden’s role as forage for other species of fish, birds, and marine mammals.  Second was to reconsider the allocation of quota.”

Under AMD 2 adopted in 2013, the board must revisit quota allocations within three years, Ware said.

Currently, quota is allocated by state under a method that takes into account historical landings from 2009 to 2011.  The draft amendment considers quota allocation options by use, by region, and by gear type.

Menhaden are a plentiful forage fish with a range from Nova Scotia to Florida and the recent 2017 stock assessment update found that menhaden are not overfished nor is overfishing occurring.  Menhaden are targeted with a variety of gear, but the predominant gear is purse seines, followed by pound nets, gillnets, and floating fish traps.

Harvest is set annually by a total allowable catch (TAC).

A 1% episodic set-aside is taken off the top of the TAC to account for harvest during times of abnormally high abundance peculiar to this species.

If the TAC is not exceeded, each state’s quota balance is rolled over to the next year.  In 2017, the TAC is 200,000 mt, or roughly 440 million pounds.

The stated goal for Draft AMD 3 is to manage menhaden fishery in a way that “equitably allocates the resource’s ecological and economic benefits between all user groups.”

What makes this distinctive from previous FMPs is that the user groups include not only harvesters of menhaden, but also those harvesters of predators that rely on menhaden as a source of prey, as well as users who rely on a healthy marine ecosystem as a livelihood.

 

First ERPs 

The Atlantic Menhaden FMP will be the first of the ASMFC plans to convert to ecological reference points (ERPs) from a single species model…

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