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Found 5 results

  1. All Jersey Anglers need to stay tuned to the bunker issues that develop each week This article just out: https://www.tapinto.net/towns/belmar-slash-lake-como/categories/press-releases/articles/organizations-object-to-certification-of-most-important-fish-in-the-sea
  2. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Ecological Reference Points (ERP) Workgroup and Atlantic Menhaden Stock Assessment Subcommittee (SAS) will be meeting April 1 - 5, 2019 at the Commission’s office, 1050 N. Highland Street, Suite 200A-N, Arlington, VA. The ERP Workgroup will meet April 1 – 3 and the SAS will meet April 3 - 5. Both groups will be exploring various modeling approaches to evaluate the health of the stock and inform the management of the species in an ecological context. The deadlines for the submission of data and alternate single-species and multispecies/ecosystem models have passed. It is anticipated a second round of workshops will be held in June or July 2019 to finalize both assessments for peer review in late 2019 through the SouthEast Data Assessment Review process. Visit the Commission’s website calendar (http://www.asmfc.org/calendar/ for information on the dates and times of those meetings. All Commission assessment workshops are open for public attendance. Time may be allotted for public comment at the discretion of the Chairs of the ERP Workgroup and SAS, but may also be limited to keep the workshop on schedule. Due to the use of confidential data in this assessment, some portions of the workshop may be “closed door,” for which only members of the ERP Workgroup and SAS with clearance to view confidential data may be present. Additionally, to ensure adherence to confidentiality laws, there will be no remote public access via webinar or conference call for this meeting. For more information about the assessments or attending the upcoming workshops (space will be limited), please contact Max Appelman, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at mappelman@asmfc.org or 703.842.0740.
  3. A battle is brewing just off our shores, and this one is being fought to protect one of our ecosystem’s most valuable species – the menhaden. (*from Rock a Wave website)
  4. How to Protect the Atlantic Fishery By JOHN G. GANSNOV. 13, 2017 Earlier this year, a couple of New Jersey anglers were fishing the waters near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge when a humpback whale nearly landed in their 19-foot boat. Their video of the encounter was watched hundreds of thousands of times and made national news, but most people likely missed one detail — the small fish that landed in the boat along with the whale. Fishermen like myself, however, recognized it right away as an Atlantic menhaden. Anglers learn to look for that small fish, because we know that where we find menhaden, we’ll also find whales, striped bass and a wealth of other marine life. During my last striped bass fishing trip off the Rockaways, I was lucky enough to catch my fill of big stripers and see feeding by porpoises, osprey and humpbacks. It was a National Geographic experience just a few miles from Manhattan. An important reason for bountiful catches like mine, many scientists believe, is the recovery of the menhaden, which began in 2013 after the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the government body that manages the species and others, enacted the first-ever catch limits for the fish, which is rendered into heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid fish oil and used to produce fertilizers and high-protein animal feeds. This reduced the menhaden harvest by 20 percent. Menhaden have responded by returning in large numbers to New York, attracting the whales, striped bass, osprey and other species that feed on them. “Increasingly, we’re seeing what appears to be more abundant menhaden in our waters, and with that, we have increasing habitat of some of the large whales in some our waters,” Howard Rosenbaum, the director of the ocean giants program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, recently told the public radio show Science Friday. His organization has been studying whales in the New York Bight, the section of the Atlantic Ocean that stretches between Montauk Point on Long Island and Cape May, N.J. Unfortunately, this progress is at risk. At a meeting scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, the fisheries commission is considering several options for managing menhaden along the Eastern Seaboard, including one that would allow up to a 40 percent increase in the catch limit. An increase that large would ignore the important role these fish play in ocean ecosystems. This is why many recreational fishermen, scientists, conservationists, whale and bird watchers and even chefs and scuba divers support a policy that would consider managing menhaden in the context of the species’ role as an important prey fish for predators. Doing so would set an important precedent for managing other so-called forage fish and would be a welcome departure from the present approach of narrowly focusing on how many fish of a particular species can be sustainably harvested. Opposition to a more ecological approach comes principally from Omega Protein Inc., the largest industrial harvester of menhaden on the East Coast. The company catches hundreds of millions of menhaden every year. Omega Protein and the state of Virginia, where the company runs its Atlantic fishing operations, want aggressive catch increases that would jeopardize the recent success in managing menhaden populations. Omega contended in a recent letter to the commission that menhaden actually are in high abundance and underfished, and that “the current already conservative management approach to menhaden is more than adequately taking ecosystem considerations into account by default, if not design.” Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, The Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world. But a group of 118 scientists, in their own recent letter to the commission, argued that continuing the present management approach “is simply not acceptable,” would “contradict the scientific consensus on how to manage forage species” and could result in “substantial increases over current catch levels while ignoring likely negative impacts on predators.” Allowing an increase in the allowable catch that Omega is seeking, while waiting possibly years for the commission to develop and implement a scientific management model, would not only be an ecological disaster, but it would also be an economic mistake. Recreational saltwater angling in the Atlantic generates some $10.5 billion in economic activity annually. More abundant menhaden means more fishing, and more fishing is good for the economy, including the nascent whale watching business in New York City. At its meeting this week, the commission should take the responsible approach and manage menhaden using the best available science to both sustain fishing and the many predators that depend on them. Doing so would mark a turning point for Atlantic coast communities and our oceans.
  5. I finally finished putting together my thoughts on the ASMFC's Questions contained in their Public information document. I'll list below both questions posed and my preliminary responses. I'll welcome any questions, suggested changes in wording, debates, etc. Public Comment Questions:Should the Board manage the Atlantic menhaden stock with single species biological reference points or multi species ERPs? Do you support the use of simpler, readily available ERPs until Menhaden specific ERPs are developed by the BERP Workgroup? Do you know of other approaches for establishing ERPs for menhaden that could be implemented through Amendment 3? I like Option C: SingleSpecies Reference Points Until ERPs are Developed by the BERP Workgroup Current single species guidelines have been successful in recent years in increasing the biomass, which is evidenced by the return of the species to the fringes of its historic range. If an untoward event is encountered in between the time that the amendment is adopted and the time the BERP working group finalizes its recommendations, the board could take emergency action. No two marine species are alike. The Lenfest guidelines assume otherwise. Further, as the working group has pointed out, there are some significant differences between the Lenfest general guidelines and the known facts about the lifecycle of Atlantic Menhaden. The “rebuttal” of the Working group’s observations by two of the Lenfest authors is unpersuasive. Public Comment Questions: Should the Board maintain, or revise, the allocation formula currently used to manage the commercial Atlantic menhaden fishery? Which allocation option(s)providesfor the fairest and most equitable distribution of coastwide total allowable catch? Which allocation option(s) strikes the best balance between current needs and future growth opportunities?Do you support the use of soft quotas for some user groups? What is a suitable small capacity trip limit in Option G? How should a small capacity gear be defined? Are there any other options, besides those offered in this document, that the Board should consider? I like seasonal fisheries, to account for the differences in the timing of the fishery, between different states or regions. The timing of the fishery is much different in Florida waters than it is in Maine waters. I also like regional management for the same reason. Fleet specific allocations would also help, I prefer a two fleet split, and a soft limit for the small fleet. If the board opts for a three fleet split, gill nets of a relatively short length should be permitted in the small fleet. The current small fleet bait fishery includes many small operators fishing with gill nets less than 500 feet in length. Public Comment Questions: Should the Board consider changes to the reference period on which menhaden allocation is based? Should allocation consider prior trends as well as recent changes in the fishery? What years would you recommend as the basis for allocation? Given the fact that the most recent time series is also the most accurate I don’t think that there is any question that the most recent landings data be used as the basis for any allocation. Public Comment Question: Should the process for quota transfers be further defined or replaced by an automatic reconciliation process? Should state specific quota overages be forgiven in years when the coastwide TACis not exceeded? When the coastwide TAC is exceeded but at least one jurisdiction has an underage, should unused quota be pooled and redistributed through a specified transfer process to states with an overage? Should states be required to contribute unused quota to a common pool or should this be voluntary? Should there be accountability measures for a state that exceeds its quota by a certain percentage or repeatedly participates in quota reconciliation? First, as I stated earlier, my preference is for regional management. But regardless of whether the board chooses regional or state-by-state management, no area (state or region) should be penalized if the coastwide quota is not exceeded. There is no reason, from a fishery management perspective, to penalize one state if there has been no harm done to the biomass. Any quota reconciliation process needs defined rules, the current quota transfer process is self-regulating, in that any transfer is undoubtedly the subject of negotiations between the affected states. I would prefer an inter-regional process that would require any region which underfished its quota to only transfer part of its quota to other regions when the other region has overfished its quota and the entire coast has met or exceeded its quota. If the entire coast has not overfished its quota, then the process is not needed and any regional or state overages should be forgiven. There should be some sort of accountability measures if the coastwide quota is exceeded. Public Comment Question: Should the process for quota transfers be further defined or replaced by an automatic reconciliation process? Should state specific quota overages be forgiven in years when the coastwide TACis not exceeded? When the coastwide TAC is exceeded but at least one jurisdiction has an underage, should unused quota be pooled and redistributed through a specified transfer process to states with an overage? Should states be required to contribute unused quota to a common pool or should this be voluntary? Should there be accountability measures for a state that exceeds its quota by a certain percentage or repeatedly participates in quota reconciliation? First, as I stated earlier, my preference is for regional management. But regardless of whether the board chooses regional or state-by-state management, no area (state or region) should be penalized if the coastwide quota is not exceeded. There is no reason, from a fishery management perspective, to penalize one state if there has been no harm done to the biomass. Any quota reconciliation process needs defined rules, the current quota transfer process is self-regulating, in that any transfer is undoubtedly the subject of negotiations between the affected states. I would prefer an inter-regional process that would require any region which underfished its quota to only transfer part of its quota to other regions when the other region has overfished its quota and the entire coast has met or exceeded its quota. If the entire coast has not overfished its quota, then the process is not needed and any regional or state overages should be forgiven. There should be some sort of accountability measures if the coastwide quota is exceeded. Public Comment Questions: Should unused quota be rolled over into the subsequent year? Should the amount rolled over be limited to a percent of quota? Should all sectors of the fishery be allowed to roll over quota? Should quota rollover be mandatory or voluntary? In my opinion, quota roll overs are not required. The board can take into account any quota underages in the prior periods in setting the TAC for the coming periods. If the board does adopt rollover provisions they should be very limited, 5% and definitely not more than 10%. If rollovers are adopted they should only be voluntary. But setting up regional or state-by-state quotas, with provisions for quota transfers or reconciliation and potential rollover provisions sounds exceedingly complicated. Public Comment Questions: Should there be a cap on incidental landings in the Atlantic menhaden fishery? Should incidental catch be defined as a percent composition? Should the incidental catch allowance be allocated to vessels or permit holders? Should the incidental catch provision be replaced with a small-scale fishery set aside, and if yes, what gears should be included in this sub- quota (see Table 3 in Appendix 1)? Should active and passive gears be treated differently under the incidental catch provision? This has been one of my “pet peeves” under the current rules. I believe that the states of NJ, NY and CT have been permitting cast net and drift gill net DIRECTED fisheries to operate under the bycatch provisions, when their catch is clearly NOT bycatch, as that term is generally understood. As for the first question I believe that the allowance should be allocated to permit holders with the provision that two or more permit holders fishing on the same boat, using permitted gear, should each be allowed to land their individual quotas. A small scale fishery set aside is my recommendation (see fleet allocations above) and should include cast nets and small drift or anchored gill nets. There should be some differentiation between active and passive gear in this small-scale fishery. Public Comment Questions:Should a percentage of the TAC be set aside for episodic events? If yes, what percentage of the annual TAC should be set aside? Which jurisdictions should be allowed to participate in this program? Does the episodic event program need to be reconsidered as the distribution of menhaden changes? How should states demonstrate that an episodic event is occurring in state waters? Yes, a portion of the TAC should be set aside for the episodic events. The percentage will necessarily have to be modified from time to time as the natural range of the species shrinks or expands. States from ME to MD (except for the portion of MD in the Chesapeake bay should be eligible to participate in the program. I would recommend a set aside of 3% to 5%, but this would have to adjusted from time to time, based on recent history of these specific fisheries. The episodic even set aside should take priority over any regional, coastwide, or state-by-state allocations of the quota. The states can easily demonstrate that an episodic even is occurring based on density studies in a limited body of water or estuary. Public Comment Questions: Should the Chesapeake Bay Reduction Fishery Cap be maintained? Is it an important tool for the management of Atlantic menhaden? Yes, it should be maintained. Historical data since the cap was implemented show that it seems to have little impact on the VA reduction fishery. Anecdotal evidence, seems to support the notion of “localized depletion” so there doesn’t seem to be any penalty to anyone and a possible benefit to some by keeping the cap in place. Public Comment Questions: What are important research questions that need to be answered regarding the menhaden fishery and resource? How should research recommendations be prioritized? Should there be a RSA established for menhaden? If yes, what portion of TAC should be set aside for research purposes? I think the technical committee has done good job identifying and prioritizing research questions and they should continue that work in conjunction with the staff of the MAFMC. I am in favor of an RSA set aside program to fund such research. But, as we all know, the MAFMC RSA program, had untoward consequences. So I would suggest deferring the implementation of an RSA program until the MAFMC has had a chance to study their (now suspended) RSA program and adopt new guidelines for their RSA programs.