ASMFC meeting on Menhaden May 5th

Menhaden meeting …  From the CCA MD … you can also email John Clark of DNREC to tell him what your thoughts are on this issue.
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From David Sikorski,  CCA MD….

Our message on menhaden is that they must be managed for their ecosystem role, rather than just as a single species.   This is something that has been discussed at ASMFC for over a decade, but hasn’t been instituted yet.  
Given the recent action to limit the mortality on striped bass, now is the time to leave more menhaden in the water, to include ecosystem based reference points into the menhaden harvest numbers, and still provide for the many industries which rely on commercial catch.   Simply increasing the quota because of the findings of the single species assessment will only solve one problem, and will give the most to one single company, Omega, that is already harvesting 80% of the coast wide quota in one small portion of the region.  
I think people need to know that this is much bigger than a simple menhaden fishery decision and that the longer we manage menhaden without ecosystem based reference point to allow for predators, the long we will see sickness in striped bass, a staggering lack of weakfish, and potential issues for a host of other species which rely on abundant levels of menhaden. 
You’ll hear that the biomass is up so all is good, but there’s a terrible lack of small and young fish, and they do not cover the range they once did.   
Re-Allocation of the fishery is the solution for the states to increase their individual harvest, and including ecosystem based reference points is the solution for better managing for predators…etc.
WHEN ….
May 5, 2015 @ 8:00 am – 11:00 am
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WHERE ….
The Westin Alexandria
400 Courthouse Square
Alexandria, VA 22314
From CCA MD …

Menhaden are one of the two most important keystone species in the bay.  What right does one company have to harvest over 300,000,000 lbs per year from a very small area while completely choking off a neighboring state from a much needed supply of menhaden?  Maryland has long suffered from this harvest.    Striped bass are sick and dying from a wasting disease that is directly linked to the lack of menhaden.  Weakfish have disappeared.  All signs point to the fact that juvenile weakfish have become a primary prey item as a replacement for menhaden.  Flounder, large bluefish, and countless other species no longer enter the bay.  Fishermen in the state have almost forgotten the days when they could pursue other species.  The blame game has been going on for years.  One thing has remained constant.  Too many menhaden are being removed in Virginia and not enough are making it to Maryland waters.  Fish don’t come here anymore because there isn’t anything to eat.  The ones that are here are sick and starving.  If you aren’t from Maryland, maybe this isn’t resonating yet.  Give it a few years and you will see the same thing as we are your nursery.  If 70% of our stripers have a wasting  disease from lack of menhaden, then how do you think that will impact the fishing in New Jersey, New York, and other Northern states?  Just ask yourself one simple question.  “How can removing over 300,000,000lbs of forage fish from a nursery be a good thing?”  Kind of hard to justify that.

On May 5, there will be an attack on menhaden quotas at the ASMFC meeting in Alexandria, Virginia.  In the nutshell, Omega hired a high level biologist from South Africa to sprinkle some fairy dust on a stock assessment.  Miraculously, there are massive stocks of menhaden not discovered until recently….

What we are asking is simple.  Find a way to get to the meeting on May 5.  This is a rare opportunity for a normal citizen to have a direct impact on how our fisheries are managed.  It is your chance to make a difference.  We will have buses leaving from several areas including Annapolis, the Eastern Shore, and Virginia.  If we can fill the room, we can save millions of fish.  If we don’t, things are going to get worse (if that’s possible) very quickly.

We will update this page with bus information.  If you plan to attend please send an email to menhaden@ccamd.org.

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Menhaden are not just improtant for feedingpredatory fsh but also inhelpng keep estuaries clean as they are filter feeders.  If you can not attend this meeting I urge you to at least email John Clark our ASMFC representative about your concerns for saving this necessary species.  John.Clark@state.de.us

Fish On!!

Rich King

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