September 19, 2019
WHALE & BASS FOOD ON THE DECISION TABLE NEXT WEEK
Next Tuesday the ASMFC Menhaden Management Board will decide on the 2020 catch limits for Atlantic menhaden. Omega Protein will probably argue for a massive catch increase. That's what they always do.
Commissioners should obviously reject this appeal. Reduction fishing has already contributed to the overfished state of the striped bass, reducing the population by almost 30%. Any increase in catch will cause even more harm. In fact, what commissioners should do is dramatically reduce the catch of menhaden. A reduction in catch would benefit the striped bass population, and it would help countless other species including bluefish, weakfish, humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, osprey, and more.
In New Jersey, we are lucky to have a new administration that does not blindly follow the Virginia reduction industry lobbyists and a champion to the recreational fishing community in Tom Fote. Tom knows how important it is to protect menhaden to provide forage for other species like striped bass. He will help to prevent any catch increases this year, and lead the effort to implement an ecological management system, along with necessary catch cuts, next year. And thankfully, Governor Murphy is a conservation-minded leader for New Jersey. His representatives at the DEP will no doubt support Tom in his efforts. Unlike the previous administration, Governor Murphy understands the importance of protecting the base of the food chain for a healthy marine ecosystem.
Some of the states with a tiny menhaden allocation are feeling the crunch for more bait for their lobster industry, primarily because of the shortage of Atlantic herring. The solution to this problem is not to increase overall catch--since 80% of the quota goes to Virginia--but to transfer quota from states that do not use theirs to the states that need it. This not an ideal system as it could encourage "horse-trading," but it is better than increasing the catch to the benefit of one state and one company.
I'll keep you posted on the outcome next week.You can listen in on the meeting
at the link down below in the comments section.
Dive into the action and embrace the changing tides for Menhaden
Fishing tourism is huge in Virginia. Last year, 990,905 anglers spent $998 million