Taking Action to Save the Atlantic Menhaden

eastcoast

Fishermen, foodies, environmentalists, and anglers will gather en masse over the coming months to speak out in support of stricter limits on commercial menhaden fishing.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the multi-state agency that regulates the Atlantic menhaden fishery, has released dates for public hearings in ten states along the coast, as well as one for the Potomac River Fisheries Commission.

Commissioners and ASMFC staff will be present to hear testimony on the proposed addendum to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for menhaden. The addendum lays out several management options that would protect more menhaden from commercial nets. Just how much more is the subject of debate.

Omega Protein Inc, the sole proprietor of the menhaden reduction industry on the Atlantic Coast, will likely argue for options that would result in little or no reduction in their harvest. The company’s yield from Atlantic waters was nearly half a billion pounds last year, making it the second largest fishery in the country by volume.

Thousands of conservationists, recreational fishermen, and concerned coastal residents are supporting more conservative management options that would leave hundreds of millions of pounds menhaden in the water to provide forage for the many species that depend on protein-rich menhaden for food.

According to the stock assessment conducted by the ASMFC in 2010, menhaden abundance has crashed to its lowest point on record, and overfishing has occurred in 32 of the last 54 years.

For those dedicated readers who have been asking us about taking action, this is your chance to let your voices be heard! Here’s how:

1) Attend a public hearing in your state. (Details below.)

2) Write a letter to the ASMFC. The newly-minted website Menhaden Defenders has an easy-to-use form that allows you to send a postcard to your ASMFC Commissioner with standard text, as well as a way for you to craft your own message.

3) Check our website regularly. We’ll keep track of local menhaden events in fishing communities along the coast, and will suggest other ways to take action in the weeks and months to come.

Public Hearing schedule:

9/26 (7 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Control, Lewes Field Facility, 901 Pilottown Road, Lewes, Delaware. For more information, please contact Jeff Tinsman.

9/28 (7 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, CoCo Key Hotel & Water Resort-Boston, Newburyport Room, 50 Ferncroft Road, Danvers Massachusetts. For more information, please contact David Pierce.

9/28 (4-6 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Center, 60 St Stephens Road, Bridgeport, Connecticut. For more information, please contact David Simpson.

9/29 (7 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, Township of Toms River, 33 Washington Street, L.M. Hirshblond Room, Toms River, New Jersey. For more information, please contact Peter Himchak.

10/3 (6-9 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Maine Department of Marine Resources, The Yarmouth Log Cabin, 196 Main Street, Yarmouth, Maine. For more information, please contact Terry Stockwell.

10/4 (7 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, New Hampshire Fish & Game, Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. For more information, please contact Doug Grout.

10/5 (6 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife, URI Narragansett Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, Rhode Island. For more information, please contact Jason McNamee.

10/5 (4-6 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, The Sound School, 60 South Water Street, New Haven, Connecticut. For more information, please contact David Simpson.

10/11 (6-9 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources, Tawes State Office Building, C1 Conference Room, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland. For more information, please contact Lynn Fegley.

10/12 (7 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, Marine Headquarters, 333 Ferry Road, Old Lyme, Connecticut. For more information, please contact David Simpson.

10/13 (6 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, Dare County Administration Building, Room 168, 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive, Manteo, North Carolina. For more information, please contact Michelle Duval.

10/17 (6 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Northumberland High School Auditorium, 201 Academic Lane, Heathsville, Virginia. For more information, please contact Jack Travelstead.

10/18 (6:30 PM):
ASMFC Public Hearing on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management for Atlantic Menhaden, Potomac River Fisheries Commission, John T Parran Hearing Room, 222 Taylor Street, Colonial Beach, Virginia. For more information, please contact AC Carpenter.