Starting next week, ASMFC is holding Menhaden Amendment 3 hearings… and we need to be there.
We’re not going to wax this time about how recent aggregations of menhaden have created extraordinary conditions for fishermen targeting striped bass, sharks etc.., or all the other life the massive pods have drawn, most notably the whales.
It’s become pretty obvious that menhaden are coming back not just in the Mid Atlantic, but well into New England, and not just to those of us who spend time on the water… It’s been all over the news.
Having spent a large amount of time on and around such schools, I can say first hand that it’s been pretty darn cool…
But there are no assurances it’ll stay that way. In fact, we should be clear that there’s a well-organized effort to ensure it doesn’t… but we’ll cover that in a minute. First…
Why do we have all these bunker?
Pretty simple in our minds. It’s because we really just started managing them.
While a lot of states pushed the big reduction boats out of state waters and there was a cap put in place for the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery in 2006 (which, because it was set so high didn’t really do much), the coastal menhaden fishery was, for all intents and purposes, unregulated all the way up until 2012.
After well over a decade of advocacy by angling and environmental groups, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) finally constrained menhaden removals, reducing then-existing harvest levels by 20% in 2012.
What we’re seeing now is undoubtedly a stock expansion. The growth of the menhaden population seems to have resulted in the repopulation of at least some of their historical range, going back before high-volume/low value fisheries for menhaden started knocking the crap outta them.
It’s a common-sense explanation… If you leave hundreds of millions more fish in the water, then of course the stock will do better/expand.
But it isn’t accepted by everyone…