Just got this in an email:
Big news for a little fish this week.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted on Monday to continue with the status quo for managing the menhaden fishery rather than immediately adopting limits that would take into account menhaden's role in the food chain. They made this decision despite overwhelming public outcry in support of an ecosystem-based approach to menhaden management. This included more than 14,000 CBF supporters who sent letters to ASMFC and a group of extraordinarily dedicated CBF volunteers who boarded buses to Baltimore from all over the region to stand up for menhaden at the meeting.
Menhaden, often called "the most important fish in the sea," are a crucial link in the Bay's ecosystem—they are, in many ways, the foundation of the food web, serving as vital food for striped bass, osprey, and other important Bay species. But the Chesapeake Bay has not been seeing the number of young menhaden it did historically, raising concerns for anyone who cares about the Bay's health. The catch limits would have served as guardrails for the commercial fishery by ensuring enough of these forage fish are left to serve their critical role in the food chain.
In spite of this disappointing news, I am happy to report a significant victory for the Bay. Near the end of the two-day meeting, the Commission voted to decrease the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery cap by 41.5 percent. Reducing the cap keeps menhaden harvests by the reduction fishery in the Chesapeake Bay from growing, protecting an important nursery ground for both menhaden and striped bass.
In fact, CBF's very own Allison Colden stepped in to passionately and successfully argue that because of ongoing ecological concerns the Bay's menhaden needed further protection with a reduction in the fishery cap. Click here to read this WYPR article about it.
While the ASMFC commission members decided to delay the ecosystem-based approach to managing "the most important fish in the sea," they voiced broad support for adopting this management approach when their analysis is complete in two years. Rest assured, with you by our side, we're going to hold them to it!
Thank you, as always, for your steadfast support on this important issue,
Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist
Chesapeake Bay Foundation