ASMFC Votes to Save Menhaden
by Meena Hussein
November 15, 2011
We did it! In an overwhelming vote of 14-3, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission took the historic first step of starting to reform the management of menhaden on our Atlantic coast.
It was all thanks to 90,000 public comments, with the vast majority asking for the protection of this vital fish from industrial overfishing. About one third of these comments came from our Greenpeace supporters, via our website and on Change (dot) org. Can you believe that?! I’d like to personally thank everyone for stepping up and taking action, because each and every one of you made a huge difference.
What’s on the table
The menhaden population is currently at 8 percent of what it was at unfished levels. The ASMFC has agreed to reduce harvest by 37 percent compared to 2010 levelsthat means there will be four times as many menhaden in the ocean as there were in 2010.
Regulation of Omega Protein and the menhaden fishery is vital to the survival of this tiny fish. As you already know, menhaden have been characterized as the “most important fish in the Sea” for their role as a keystone forage fish with a multitude of species including striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, tuna, a large variety of sea birds (baby osprey!) and marine mammals depending on them. The lack of menhaden as prey has had rippling effects across the ecosystem. This action by the ASMFC sets limits on the fishery for the first time and with the new reference points they adopted over the next few years the amount of menhaden left in the ocean will increase at least to four times as many as today.
This victory been a long time coming finally putting real limits on one of our last uncontrolled industrial fisheries. Thank you all for your good work.
Meena Hussain is an Email Campaigner and occasional blogger for Greenpeace USA.