New Protections for Menhaden: A Big Day for a Little Fish

On Friday, December 14, the Atlantic States Marine Commission took a historic step towards protecting Atlantic menhaden, an important forage fish on the East Coast. Herring Alliance director Peter Baker issued the following statement and released this video:

“Today the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission listened to the science and the public in taking a historic step to end overfishing of Atlantic menhaden and to begin to rebuild the population of this important little fish. By adopting the first coastwide catch limit on this fishery, the commission has begun to reverse the 90 percent plunge in the menhaden population over the past three decades. Sound science clearly calls for leaving more of these fish in the water to fulfill their ecological role. More menhaden means more food for ocean wildlife, from seabirds to whales and popular game fish such as striped bass.

The 25 percent reduction from the 2011 menhaden catch (a 20 percent reduction in catch over a three year average) is a good start. Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life—anglers, business owners, birders, scientists, conservationists, and more—have long been urging this sort of action because they know what menhaden mean for their coastal ecosystem and economy. Today those voices were heard.”

ASMFC Meeting Room (c) Pamela Wood, Capital Gazette

News coverage of Friday’s meeting included:
The New York Times: Broad Catch Limits Are Put on an Unglamorous but Essential Fish
The Washington Post: Atlantic fisheries commission limits menhaden catch
The Baltimore Sun: Panel votes to cut menhaden harvest by 20 percent
Asbury Park Press: Coastwide reductions placed on menhaden catch

In addition to support from tens of thousands of citizens, the ASMFC received a letter from 21 members of Congress, asking them to end overfishing of menhaden.