Decision Day on Atlantic Menhaden: Live Blog


10:26:24 PM: We’ll see you bright and early at 8 am for the historic vote on #menhaden! If you have any questions, tweet at us and we’ll keep you posted!

11:26:16 PM: Great energy here in Baltimore over an oily little fish called #menhaden. Stay tuned!
11:51:55 PM: We’ll also be following @pewenvironment and @herringalliance for live #menhaden meeting coverage beginning at 8 am! #earlymenhadenoclock

8:30:43 AM: It’s 8:30 am and the #menhaden board meeting is underway!

8:31:35 AM: High volume of tweets coming down the pike. We have an “aggressive agenda” here today, according to Louis Daniel, North Carolina. #menhaden

8:42:48 AM: Public comment summary is being summarized here at #ASMFC12. Over 120,000 comments on #menhaden were submitted by concerned citizens

8:43:12 AM: “We are overfishing. The board must take steps to reducing to the target.” #menhaden #ASMFC12

8:46:13 AM: 502 people came to 10 different public hearings about #menhaden this Fall! And 128,000 people submitted comments. #democracyinaction

8:49:50 AM: Of those public comments, 112,000 people believe the new target for menhaden should be reached in less than 5 years #menhadencountdown

8:51:34 AM: 114,000 people in favor of using a TAC, or total allowable catch, to manage the coastwide #menhaden fishery.

8:54:41 AM: Hundreds of people came to this historic meeting in Baltimore this morning, where #ASMFC12 will address decline of #menhaden.

8:57:24 AM: 101,000 people in favor of a 50 percent reduction in menhaden harvest (out of a total of 128,000 comments) #menhadencountdown

9:04:28 AM: If you need a refresher in why we’re here today at #ASMFC12 to deal with the loss of #menhaden, see our timeline!

9:08:07 AM: Menhaden management has been so contentious that the Maryland Natural Resources police is here to keep everyone in line! #menhadencountdown

9:08:07 AM: Menhaden management has been so contentious that the Maryland Natural Resources police is here to keep everyone in line! #menhadencountdown

9:09:23 AM: 9,000 people in favor of adjusting the Chesapeake Bay catch cap for #menhaden. Only a handful against it.

9:16:01 AM: The deliberations of the menhaden board will now begin!

9:18:34 AM: Jocelyn Kerry, Mass: Bring to the board’s attention that 10,000 people asked for a complete moratorium on #menhaden fishing or 75% reduction

9:39:07 AM: Louis Daniel, chair of the #menhaden board, with the first “lord have mercy” of the day, asking folks to sit back down and stop talking!

9:40:20 AM: Pat Augustine, commissioner frm NY, suggested the 128,000 people who wrote in might just be signing letters, w/o caring about the issue

9:43:59 AM: Report from the law enforcement committee: Unknown but possibly significant amount of #menhaden likely not being reported in some states.

9:44:20 AM: Law committee recommends: States should require all #menhaden harvested for sale as bait to be reported through licensed dealers.

9:47:53 AM: Jeff Brust, technical committee chair: We do need harvest reductions to end overfishing. We don’t know magnitude of reductions necessary.

9:48:46 AM: Brust: If we set quota, we need to know how much #menhaden harvested over course of season. Recommend mandatory reporting in bait fishery.

9:50:28 AM: Brust: Overfishing is occurring, unless we see huge spikes in recruitment of #menhaden, that overfishing pattern will continue

9:51:53 AM: Brust: Large harvest cuts will be more risk adverse – give greater potential to increase spawning #menhaden stock and hopefully recruitment.

9:54:26 AM: Brust: Bait #menhaden fishery has a higher reproductive potential per ton than the menhaden reduction fishery. A ratio of two to one.

9:54:54 AM: Million dollar question: will this mean the board grants a higher allocation to bait fishery? Right now the split is 80/20 based on landings

9:56:59 AM: Brust is now going over options to cuts to bait fishery that might increase spawning potential for #menhaden

9:58:40 AM: Bait fishery is likely not happy with news from technical committee report saying that the fish they harvest have more spawning potential

9:59:28 AM: If you have questions about the #menhaden meeting, tweet @ us, we’ll be happy to respond! #menhadencountdown

10:01:02 AM: Techncial committee says given current structure of #menhaden fishery there is no biological benefit to having the #chesbay harvest cap.

10:02:10 AM: Technical committee wants to have consistency between state and federal waters to maintain the integrity of the fishery.

10:03:55 AM: “Overfishing” and “overfished” have entirely different technical definitions in fishery management….and other crazy facts from frontlines

10:13:20 AM: There is now some pushback from #bait states like Maine about why we should change both reference points to maximum spawning potential

10:15:27 AM: Louis Daniel’s response: 2-3 mtgs ago, the board decided we’re going to manage menhaden as an ecosystem component, not just for the fishery

10:15:50 AM: Daniel: The new MSP based reference points clearly reflect the board’s desire to manage #menhaden to a higher level of abundance.

10:17:45 AM: Brust: If you take fish frm reduction fishery + give to bait fishery, you are harvesting more reproductive potential frm #menhaden stock

10:18:29 AM: The reason for this, Daniel clarifies, is that reduction fishery catches smaller fish. Larger, older fish are more suited for spawning

10:20:42 AM: Bill Windley is going over report frm advisory comm. The committee is made up of ppl w/ interest in #menhaden: conservationists + fishermen

10:21:27 AM: For this reason, all advisory committee reports read like this: some people on the committee thought one thing, others thought the opposite

10:25:48 AM: Reporters at #menhaden meeting: Here’s a timeline explaining 30 yrs of menhaden management @pwoodreporter @jessbigood

10:26:52 AM: Reporters at #menhaden meeting: Here’s a timeline explaining 30 yrs of menhaden management @jessbidgood @bydarrylfears

10:36:23 AM: Roll call vote is called on issue one! #wakeupfolks #firstvoteishere

10:37:12 AM: Daniel “I want us to be thoughtful about our motions so we don’t have a Robert’s rule morass” #menhaden #ASMFC12

10:38:14 AM: Butterworth study is out of order, says Louis Daniel! For more on Butterworth, see our article: #menhaden

10:44:32 AM: David Pierce, commissioner from MA: Move to adopt the Maximum spawning potential based reference points, with the target set at 30 % MSP.

10:45:48 AM: Unsurprisingly, Jack Travelstead from VA is against this. For more on how Travelstead works w/ Omega Protien, see

10:47:04 AM: Travelstead: I would vote to table this motion until peer reviewed benchmark. #menhadendelay

10:47:27 AM: Travelstead, VA: The distance between target and threshold is so wide for #menhaden. Don’t know other fishery where the distance is so wide

10:47:49 AM: Daniel: Reason why the distance is so wide is to account for wild swings in #menhaden recruitment #menhadencountdown

10:53:01 AM: Dennis Abbot, New Hampshire: In 1999 technical committee told us we should be managing this #menhaden fishery w/ a total allowable catch

10:53:23 AM: Abbot: we have now had 31 board meetings since 1999, and 6 stock assessments. Today we need to get the job done. #menhadencountdown

10:54:57 AM: Travelstead’s motion to delay changing the reference points is defeated. Only Virginia and Maine voted in favor. Room begins to applaud.

10:56:05 AM: New reference point passes! Only VA votes against it. #menhadencountdown #historic

10:57:16 AM: Board will now begin discussion on whether to set a total allowable catch (harvest cap) on #menhaden

10:58:54 AM: Total allowable catch just passed! No objections, even from Virginia. Louis Daniel, chair of #menhaden board, asks audience to hold applause

11:00:48 AM: Now the #menhaden board will debate whether the total allowable catch will be reached in 3 or 5 years. #ASMFC12

11:02:02 AM: Astonishing that we now have total allowable catch for #menhaden. Until now, fishery could harvest every last menhaden from the ocean.

11:02:02 AM: Astonishing that we now have total allowable catch for #menhaden. Until now, fishery could harvest every last menhaden from the ocean.

11:04:28 AM: David Pierce, Mass., made motion to use a three year average of #menhaden catch using ad hoc method to set the TAC, seconded by Himchak, NJ

11:06:06 AM: Thanks! RT @oceanwire Terrific resource – timeline explaining 30 yrs of #menhaden management via @ThePublicTrust

11:06:57 AM: Motion carries without objection — they will use a three year average of catch to set the total allowable catch.

11:08:00 AM: Louis Daniel wants to set the TAC. Wowza. Ripping through these motions in minutes, when the board has spent 30 years talking about them

11:09:30 AM: Pierce: move to adopt a 25 percent reduction from the three year average coastwide harvest, resulting in TAC catch of 160,200 metric tons

11:15:15 AM: Jack Travelstead, VA, begins speaking about why harvest cut shouldn’t be as high as 25 percent. All at once, hundreds of people raise signs

11:15:34 AM: Signs say “I am from MD and I support Menhaden Conservation.” “I am from NH and I support menhaden conservation” Etc.

11:16:14 AM: Omega Protein fishermen in yellow shirts begin standing up and walking out of the meeting.

11:16:54 AM: Omega Fishermen are not walking out of the room — they are looping the room, from front to back. #menhadendrama

11:18:08 AM: Travelstead, Virginia, asks for substitute motion that will result in a 10 percent reduction in harvest. Minimize impact to industry

11:20:31 AM: Audience is on its feet holding signs!

11:28:24 AM: David Pierce: oppose motion to substitute 10%. We can’t adopt a 10 percent, it doesn’t get us to reduce overfishing.

11:28:54 AM: Himchak: NJ resource agency supports the 10%. The bait fishery has increased substantially in 2012. A reduction of 25% would be crippling.

11:31:38 AM: Bill Goldsborough, MD: It’s a high risk, high reward fishery. It’s been high reward for decades. Now time to act on best available science

11:37:52 AM: Jimmy Kellum, VA: Reedville fishery has existed for 100 yrs. We’re stable. We don’t need any government intervention. 10 percent cut is huge

11:39:41 AM: Terry Stockwell, Maine: 10 percent maybe not enough. 25 percent is perhaps too much.

11:40:09 AM: Thanks! RT @zergbane @ThePublicTrust Congratulations to all who worked to get this done! Big business is only too willing to go ouroboros.

11:41:39 AM: Adam Nowalski, NJ: #menhaden has sustained itself for landing levels 2x what we’re considering. Are we cutting landings for sake of it?

11:43:54 AM: Board members are caucusing amongst their states. Daniel: Does everyone accept my interpretation? This is for 2013 fishing year.

11:46:01 AM: Motion to cut only 10 percent of the harvest is defeated. 12 to 4 to 1 abstention. 4 NOs: VA, ME, NJ, FL

11:49:04 AM: Terry Stockwell, Maine, made motion to reduce harvest by 20%, calling it compromise btwn original motion of 25% and 10% favored by Virginia

11:49:37 AM: Travelstead of VA tries to amend the motion to 15 % harvest reduction only. It’s ruled out of order acc to Robert’s Rules #democracyinaction

11:53:18 AM: Doug Grout, NH, in favor of 20% cut. One thing I have concern about in New England is we’re facing 70+% reductions in some fisheries.

11:56:56 AM: bob Ballou, RI: Attempting to
manage public resource in best interest of public. Ascertaining what that public interest is is difficult

11:57:17 AM: Ballou: Vast majority of members of the public favored a reduction of at least 25 percent. Substitute motion of 20% good compromise.

11:57:40 AM: Dennis Abbot: Delegation from NH arrived here thinking that 25%is the line in the sand. Decision making is like making sausage.

11:58:05 AM: Abbot: Part of decision making is compromise. My position has changed somewhat and now 20 percent is my line in the sand.

12:00:47 PM: Kellum, VA: Compromise btwn 10 and 25 is 17.5 percent. 2.5 percent of 170,800 metric tons is a lot of fish.

12:00:51 PM: Kellum: May be the difference between a man feeding his family and not.

12:01:46 PM: Daniel, NC: In NC we often take less action to avoid the short term economic consequences, which has gotten us in trouble. We are overfished

12:03:47 PM: Board voted on reducing #menhaden harvest by 20%, motion carries with only Mass. and @USFWSHQ voting against.

12:04:24 PM: Travelstead: we only voted yes on this because we want a 15 percent reduction in #menhaden harvest instead of 20. #surprise!

12:05:49 PM: Board now caucusing on giving a tiny piece of the pie back to the industry. 15 percent reduction instead of 20. #menhaden

12:07:31 PM: Motion fails to reduce by 15% only (only advocates were VA, NJ, FL, NY). Main motion is a 20 percent reduction in harvest.

12:14:34 PM: #menhaden board caucusing on whether to phase in the 20 percent reduction, with 15% reduction next year, followed by 20 the following

12:14:54 PM: Dennis Abbot, NH: That would be an example of kicking the can down the road.

12:17:01 PM: Bill Goldsborough: At 20% we compromising on putting the stock on an upward trajectory to restore economic and ecological base.

12:17:24 PM: Goldsborough: And now we’re even talking about phasing that in, against best available science and @NOAA standards!

12:18:02 PM: Vote on the motion: FAILS. 20 percent cutback in harvest will not be phased in for two years. Only states in favor: ME, NY, NJ, PRFC, VA, FL

12:20:02 PM: 170,800 metric tons is new total allowable catch! 20 percent cutback in harvest for #menhaden. It’s official! Menhaden has a TAC #historic

12:20:25 PM: Taking a lunch break now, good news for my tired typing fingers! See you at 1:30 pm sharp for more #menhaden fun.

1:40:28 PM: We’re back! #menhaden #ASMFC12! After the historic vote to reduce the harvest by 20%, commissioners are now discussing how to allocate fish

1:49:51 PM: Virginia opened up a motion to allocate the available #menhaden fish on a state by state basis, rather than regional or coastwide.

1:52:04 PM: Fierce opposition to Virginia’s motion by Maine commissioners Terry Stockwell and Mary Beth Tooley b/c Maine has an “episodic fishery”

1:55:55 PM: Carpenter: Coastwide has no state responsibility. Only way this can work is we send in harvest data and someday someone is blows a whistle.

1:56:28 PM: Carpenter: That’s not a way to manage a fishery. If we going to protect a certain percentage of these animals for forage for other species.

1:56:55 PM: Jimmy Kellum, VA: Coastwide would create a derby fishery. When we create this derby style fishery we will make fishing dangerous. #menhaden

1:57:45 PM: David Simpson, CT: Burden of conservation should be split equitably. most important thing to address + state by state allocation does that

1:59:48 PM: Pat Augustine, NY: Maybe we could go from a coastwide to a regional? Once we go into state by state we’re locked in forever.

2:00:10 PM: Augustine: I don’t see any fishery that we’ve ever changed state allocation. We have to be aware of the limits of state by state. Zero flex

2:03:24 PM: 2nd “lord have mercy” of the day. Louis Daniel for the win. #menhadencountdown

2:04:19 PM: Pat Augustine’s motion to substitute regional fishery allocation failed “by a lot.” #menahden

2:05:54 PM: New Jersey and Virginia like idea of allocating #menhaden on state by state basis b/c they have the largest harvests. Want to lock ‘em in.

2:13:40 PM: #ASMFC12 is still debating how to allocate the menhaden fishery, now that the harvest will be reduced by 20%.

2:14:43 PM: Caught in a bit of roberts rules morass right now — can we vote on a motion to amend a substitute motion to vote?

2:16:58 PM: Daniel, NC: The logical thing is you’ve got a reduction fishery, then you take bait fishery and divvy it based on historical participation

2:17:09 PM: Daniel: Okay, we have to start over on this. The board does not agree.

2:22:51 PM: Terry Stockwell, ME: This discussion is exactly why I didn’t support allocation when I walked into the meeting and why I still don’t.

2:23:17 PM: Coastwide allocation was defeated, we now have a regional allocation motion on the floor! #whiplash #menhaden

2:25:13 PM: Motion on allocating #menhaden by region just failed, 12-4 with three interesting abstentions: Florida, @USFWSHQ and @NOAA

2:36:56 PM: Board voted on allocating #menhaden fishery on a state by state basis, and it passed.

2:44:02 PM: Adam Nowalski, NJ: Made a motion to split the menhaden harvest by 70% for reduction fishery (@omegaproteininc) and 30% for bait fishery

2:44:27 PM: David Simpson: That is wrong. It would be like this entire group going out to happy hour, buying beer, and asking one party to pay the bill

2:45:53 PM: Simpson: Not only is it wrong to do, but it is also damaging to this commission. We will do ourselves a great disservice if we split 70/30

2:47:08 PM: David Pierce: On the other hand, allocating menhaden based on historical catch would result in dramatic cutback in bait landings in Mass.

2:51:05 PM: Travelstead: This motion would be nail in coffin for VA. You are going to saddle VA with the burden??!

2:55:37 PM: Abbott: Going to 70/30 doesn’t pass the smell test of what is going on historically in the fishery. We’ve already asked VA to shoulder a lot

2:57:17 PM: Board just voted on whether to accept the 70/30 split in allocation and it failed.

3:04:01 PM: Still great energy in the room though crowd has thinned out a bit now that #ASMFC12 is voting on issues like reporting requirements

3:14:35 PM: Board voted on a motion to allow maximum percent rollover of any unused quota as specified by the Board. …..AND….it FAILS.

3:14:59 PM: A motion to allow #menhaden quota to transfer between states carried unanimously.

3:15:20 PM: Surprising: Motion to not adopt any percent closure criteria. Motion by Mr. Carpenter, seconded by McElroy. No objection, motion carries.

3:17:27 PM: Surprising: Motion to not adopt any percent closure criteria for #menhaden. No objection, motion carries.

3:21:51 PM: Board voted on 100 percent payback penalties, meaning if you catch more than your quota, you get less following year. #menhaden

3:22:10 PM: @Frank68 reminded me of a very important point I didn’t yet tweet about!

3:22:38 PM: The deal with allocation is that #ASMFC12 decided to leave allocation decisions up to the states. What this means in practice is that…

3:23:03 PM: …VA is only state that has to allocate its share between the reduction and bait fisheries, since VA is only state with a reduction fishery

3:23:46 PM: Board set allocations based on average catch for the last 3 years. In practice, some bait states like Mass. will likely sacrifice some fish

3:24:15 PM: Tweet at us if you have questions! #complexmenhaden

3:33:40 PM: “We have made some extraordinary strides in the management of menhaden today.” -Louis Daniel, chair of menhaden management board #ASMFC12

3:58:38 PM: #ASMFC12 voted (after lengthy deliberation) to accept a 6,000 pound bycatch allowance and it carried easily. #menhaden

4:26:51 PM: Breaking #menhaden news! Board decided to approve motion to adjust #chesbay cap, reducing it by 20 percent.

5:09:58 PM: Whew! the #ASMFC12 board moved to approve #menhaden Amendment 2 as modified today. Implementation plans will be due in March 2013!

5:12:06 PM: Implementation will be on July 1, 2013. But #menhaden quotas are retroactive from January.

5:12:18 PM: Sorry, that’s implementation plans are due on April 15th, 2013.

5:14:39 PM: The entire board voted to implement amendment 2, except for Virginia (Jack Travelstead).