Atlantic Menhaden Meeting Live Blog


9:45:34 AM: Menhaden meeting at the ASMFC getting underway here in Alexandria, Virginia.

9:47:32 AM: There will be a high volume of tweets coming down the pike about little stinky fish! Live from ASMFC! A word of warning to our followers…

10:04:34 AM: Ron Lukens: I’m the senior fisheries biologist with Omega Protein. There are significant issues with the latest stock assessment.

10:07:09 AM: Lukens, Omega: There is an equal amount of biomass in the north, and perhaps as much as 2.5 x as much biomass not revealed in assessment.

10:09:33 AM: Jim Price, Ches. Bay Ecological Foundation: For yrs no one has been able to explain with any certainty why striped bass are dying in the bay

10:10:01 AM: Price: Ongoing research by my org has determined that the male to female striped bass ratio has dramatically declined since 2010.

10:10:49 AM: Price: Male striped bass are dying more frequently than females. Why?: Lack of prey fish, namely menhaden. Conclusive evidence.

10:12:40 AM: Patrick Paquette: Rec angler advocate. There is talk of this aerial survey, and how all the menhaden are hiding in the north. Not true.

10:13:28 AM: Paquette: From a fishermen’s perspective. if there were that many menhaden up here in Mass, our very capable fleets would find them.

10:15:53 AM: Paul Eidman: I’m a fishing guide in northern NJ. As a leader of @menhaden_defend, I represent 1000s of fishermen who are concerned

10:17:23 AM: Eidman: Southern fishermen and saying same thing as New England fishermen. The menhaden are all gone. We are worried. What will ASMFC do?

10:18:23 AM: Eidman: Menhaden is the lifeblood of our waters and we hope you will vote with mother nature and not with big business.

10:19:46 AM: Jud Crawford, Pew: The northern aerial survey: disconnect btwn what the scientists say about their work and how it’s interpreted by Omega

10:21:22 AM: Crawford: Butterworth presented the survey as a pilot, a method that could be used after its developed over a period of many years of data
11:03:21 AM: Erik Williams: I’m with the NMFS Beaufort Lab. We’ve been working on menhaden out of our lab well over 60 years. We have a long history.

11:04:18 AM: Williams: Dome shaped selectivity has profound impacts on the menhaden model estimates. [Ed's note: Dome is preferred by the industry]

11:08:17 AM: Williams: An important thing to point out is the model is has a restrospective bias. this is bad — something we’ll have to wrestle with

11:08:53 AM: Williams: Stock has been undergoing overfishing the entire time series. Even using dome shaped selectivity, the suggestion is that.

11:09:37 AM: Travelstead, Virginia: You talked about the doming of the selectivity curve. We don’t have a lot of data to determine exact shape of curve

11:09:55 AM: Travelstead: What is needed? Can we use Dr. Sulikowksi’s aerial survey data?

11:11:08 AM: Erik Williams, NMFS: What we do need is data like the Sulikowski study, but as the study stands now, it is not going to help us answer q’s

11:11:36 AM: Williams: need more years of that data, and the survey would have to be conducted synoptically — both north and south at the same time.

11:14:12 AM: Williams: The awfully high F rate (i.e. the high rate of death by fishing) could be reduced by the use of dome-shaped selectivity.

11:14:51 AM: Jeff Brust, chair of the technical committee, NJ dept of fisheries: The conclusion of the TC is that we need a new benchmark assessment.

11:17:07 AM: Brust: The assessment results cast doubt on the utility of the model. We identified some major concerns with how data is fitting the model

11:18:13 AM: Brust: There’s a retrospective pattern and the model does not account for changes to the menhaden fishery over time.

11:18:50 AM: Brust: Consequently, while we wait for a new benchmark assessment, we’ll assume we have a data poor situation here for Atlantic menhaden.

11:19:30 AM: Brust: So we’ve identified some “ad hoc” methods that fishery managers use in data poor situations. You can use these to regulate menhaden.

11:20:44 AM: We’re here at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, live-tweeting the menhaden regulatory hearing…high volume of fish tweets!

11:25:09 AM: Dr. Pierce, Massachusetts: If we matched the fishing mortality and the SSB reference points, then the stock would be overfished? True?

11:25:40 AM: Brust: Yes, that is correct. [Ed's Note: the industry likes to note that overfishing is occurring, but that menhaden are not "overfished."]

11:26:15 AM: Pierce: Okay, so maybe we should match those reference points, huh?

11:27:53 AM: Brust: Even though the data is not matching the model, we can say for certain that overfishing is occurring.

11:33:23 AM: Jeff Brust, NJ: Making the ref points consistent show a better representation of where the fishery stands. [Overfished and overfishing both]

11:34:18 AM: [Ed's note: Only in fisheries would the technical definitions of "overfished" and "overfishing" be different. Way to make things clear!]

11:40:10 AM: Steven Train, Maine: You both agree that the current model is overestimate fishing mortality and underestimate spawning stock biomass.

11:43:02 AM: Train: But you also said that we need to reduce fishing mortality by certain percentages. But model is overestimating fishing mortality…?

11:43:42 AM: Louis Daniel, North Carolina, chair of Menhaden board: Let me help with the confusion here.We are very certain we are overfishing.

11:44:33 AM: Daniel: If we use the MSP reference points for biomass, we are overfished as well. In order to get ourselves above we need to reduce harvest

11:45:41 AM: Daniel: The Technical committee can’t tell us if we need an 80% reduction or a 90%. We need to decide based on these ad hoc measures

11:52:55 AM: The #menhaden board is discussing the “ad hoc” method, a number of options for “multipliers” — numbers that are multiped by the biomass

11:53:17 AM: This shows how much the harvest must be cut back to achieve the menhaden fishery ref points set by the board.

11:54:20 AM: This ad hoc method has been used by some fishery management councils in data poor situations. Used for Atlantic herring fishery, for example

11:55:51 AM: Terry Stockwwell, Maine: In herring fishery, you used a multiplier of 1. Did that consider forage or predation by other species?

11:56:42 AM: Matt Cieri, Maine: We used 1 partially because herring were not overfished and overfishing was not occurring.

11:57:20 AM: Cieri: In your choice of multiplier, you need to consider how well your stock is doing relative to ref points, as well as the life history.

11:58:04 AM: Daniel, NC: Board has directive to clearly move forward to end overfishing.

12:02:00 PM: Bill Goldsborough, Maryland: Since the updated assessment is troubling, could we use the conclusions from the last peer reviewed assessment?

12:03:47 PM: Brust: Falling back on last peer reviewed assessment is appropriate. But we are not certain that projections in the 2008 doc provide clarity

12:09:37 PM: Kyle Schick, Virginia: Overfishing occurred for 60 yrs. This is a resilient stock, allows us to overfish for 60 yrs but not collapse?

12:09:56 PM: Schick: Or are we really looking at a really data poor situation, and in fact we may not be overfished and not overfishing?

12:10:39 PM: Schick: In technical committee’s opinion, is it more important to get this data-starved situation under control now, then deal with harvest?

12:12:16 PM: Travelstead, VA: At some point we need to have discussion about quickly we could expedite a new benchmark. Everything is hanging on that.

12:12:42 PM: ASMFC staff: Unfortunately, the technical committees have a very heavy workload. We assess other species, and there are many in the queue

12:14:22 PM: Daniel: Maybe we could farm it out. Stock assessment unit in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech? Some external group that may be able to do it?

12:17:23 PM: Bob Beale, ASMFC Exec director: 2013 is really ambitious. 2014 maybe, but even that we will have to get creative with how we pull that off.

12:18:49 PM: Dave Simpson, Connecticut: This seems to be ripe for the industry and for a group like Pew to hire a stock assessment team to ease burden.

12:26:28 PM: J. Geiger, Fish and Wildlife Service:
If we change the name of menhaden to striped bass, we’d see diff. response to needing new benchmark.

12:27:15 PM: Geiger: Maybe we should have appropriate adaptive flexibility. what are biological, ecological, social trade offs to waiting for a benchmark

12:28:19 PM: Lynn Fegley, Maryland: When we started down this road, goal was to put more fish in the water. What projections can show is stock response.

12:29:09 PM: Brust: I don’t think the TC will show that. It’s just a simple mathematical step.

12:44:47 PM: Adam Nowalski, NJ: Based on ref points we are using, overfishing is occurring. With updated ref points, we overfished the last 50 years.

12:45:15 PM: Nowalski: There’s a strong retrospective pattern — is that grounds to reject the assessment model?

12:46:27 PM: Brust: Strong is a relative term. Stronger than some species, not as strong as others. We have 5 concerns with model, not just retro pattern

12:46:53 PM: Daniel: I don’t think that by rejecting the stock assessment report we accomplish anything.

12:47:52 PM: Bill Goldsborough, MD: A big picture view. We have a history of 50 years of overfishing of menhaden. We’ve held stock at low 8 percent level

12:48:25 PM: Goldsborough: That doesn’t mean the stock is healthy. The best scenario is that we have a case of a shifting baseline.

12:49:03 PM: Goldsborough: which mean you have god recruitment only in spikes. Whereas in a healthy stock you would expect a pattern of recruitment.

12:49:19 PM: Motion to accept the stock assessment update and TC report as presented. Passes unanimously!

12:49:43 PM: Breaking for lunch. ASMFC #menhaden meeting coverage will return at 1:45 pm.
1:55:58 PM: Back from lunch, here at ASMFC #menhaden 2012. Whew.

1:56:28 PM: Mike Waine, ASMFC staff: In Nov, the ASMFC implemented new interim ref points, intended to provide increased protection for spawning adults.

1:56:38 PM: Waine: Board must take steps to reduce fishing mortality and consider changes to the current management program.

2:06:39 PM: Waine: There are three options for setting a “total allowable catch” for menhaden. option 1: set TAC based on 2012 projections.

2:08:02 PM: Waine: option 2: Set TAC using projections from ’10 benchmark assessment.
option 3: Set TAC thru ad hoc approach used by regional councils

2:19:13 PM: #Menhaden board is going over draft amendment 2 to management plan for the “most important fish in the sea.” Many options, no discussion yet

2:22:36 PM: #Menhaden board at ASMFC will have to decide which options to recommend to @NOAA to implement in federal waters, 3 to 200 miles offshore

2:44:51 PM: The #menhaden board is now discussing the spawning stock biomass reference point.

2:45:21 PM: Travelstead, VA: there needs to be more explanation about what is meant by “technical mismatch” of the two types of reference points.

2:45:41 PM: Travelstead: More explanation is needed for the public as to why the mismatch is a problem.

2:46:30 PM: Travelstead: On 2 occasions biolgoist Rob Latour told us the technical committee didn’t think %MSP was appropriate for a species like this

2:46:59 PM: Daniel: Okay, we’ll keep the option to change the SSB ref point in there.

2:51:32 PM: Board is working on approving a suite of options to reducing fishing mortality to the F target.

2:52:28 PM: Louis Daniel: Are we going to go out to public comment with the option to reach target in 3 years, even without benchmark assessment?

2:52:56 PM: Daniel: Without the benchmark assessment, how are we going to set up a timeframe to get to the target?

2:55:07 PM: Dr. Pierce, MA: After public hearings we will quickly realize that we can’t reach target that soon. I think it will take 10 years.

2:55:30 PM: Pierce: We have to do something to end overfishing, but we can’t reach target in 3 years.

2:56:44 PM: Daniel: The way the doc is written now, is it clear in this amendment we are taking action to end overfishing but not to reach the target?

2:57:55 PM: Editors note: Ending overfishing will result in some cutbacks to harvest of #menhaden. Reaching the target would force much greater cutbacks

3:03:20 PM: Bill G: I’m a little confused here, because I thought all along that our intent was to end overfishing immediately.

3:05:17 PM: Bill G: I’m not comfortable with saying on the record that we decided that we’re only going to end overfishing and then wait for benchmark.

3:06:06 PM: Daniel: With all of the uncertainty expressed by the technical committee, the issues of the dome shaped selectivity, it seems to have merit

3:06:20 PM: Daniel: Until we get a stock asesssment, what justification do we have to continue ratcheting down the harvest?

3:07:58 PM: Travelstead: If you don’t wait for next benchmark, we’re asking public to comment on how soon to cut harvest, but we don’t know by how much

3:10:27 PM: AC Carpenter: We heard from the Technical Committee that they don’t have any confidence in these projections at all.

3:10:46 PM: AC Carpenter: Why would we even send this out to public hearing if there’s no basis for these projections at all?

3:11:15 PM: Daniel: I came into this meeting with the idea that we weren’t even going to look at the 3, 5, 10 year (to reach target) options.

3:11:35 PM: [I think I just heard some board members boo him!]

3:11:46 PM: Daniel: that was just my understanding.

3:14:40 PM: Daniel: What if we added option E: end overfishing right away but wait to take any further action on target until the benchmark assessment.

3:19:15 PM: Brust: When you fail a peer review, you go back to most recently accepted peer review. The projections are very uncertain however. I caution

3:19:56 PM: Pierce: Cut catch now with the idea that we will have a meaningful level of reduction in fishing mortality. We are on soft sand.

3:21:24 PM: Pierce: The document would have to be rewritten in some sensible way once these tables are struck. I have no confidence in those tables.

3:21:41 PM: Daniel: i don’t think our technical committee does either.

3:22:04 PM: Kyle Schick: i think you were talking about immediately reducing F. Not necessarily eliminating overfishing immediately. Am I correct?

3:28:14 PM: Schick: Some people around the table say that we are definitely overfishing. But no one can say that for certain. Don’t mislead public.

3:28:50 PM: AC Carpenter, Potomac River Fisheries Commission: We should separate options for target and threshold.

3:29:17 PM: Pierce: We need end overfishing. We are overfishing and once we change the SSB ref point we will conclude that we are overfished.

3:34:13 PM: Fegley: Issue 2 could be rewritten to offer the public options as to the aggressiveness of our action re: cutback to fishery

3:35:23 PM: Simpson: We have a lot accomplished a lot, moving forward and establishing a quota for the first time in this fishery, that’s big.

3:35:57 PM: Simpson: Now we have the pace to achieve the ultimate target. We have everything except an action for year one of the plan.

3:36:19 PM: Simpson: My thought is to leave issue 2 just as it is. that’s our timetable.

3:38:39 PM: Jack Travelstead’s motion: Move to eliminate tables 4-7, use table 10 as guidance for ending overfishing.

3:39:13 PM: [For those who are following along at home, see draft amendment 2 on website.]

3:40:19 PM: Motion amended slightly: Move to eliminate tables 4-7, use table 10 as guidance to end overfishing, also include .85 and .90 as multipliers

3:42:14 PM: Bill G: All three of our appraoches have some utility. Possible new type of table that we could construct readily.

3:43:14 PM: Bill Goldsborough: Can we reduce that terminal year estimate by X percent, then construct projection table from that?

3:43:59 PM: Bill G: Earlier, the TC had said that the terminal year estimate might be as much as 50 percent too high.

3:47:20 PM: Stockwell from Maine seconded Jack Travelstead’s motion.

3:49:29 PM: Pete Himchak, NJ: In relation to initial charge to end overfishing and start rebuilding, what is earliest time we can evaluate performance?

3:50:04 PM: Daniel: If we do an update in 2017? 2016? It depends on when we do an next scheduled update.

3:51:55 PM: Daniel: It’s going to depend on the benchmark There’s just no way to answer a lot of these questions right now.

3:52:44 PM: Fegley: I’d like to amend the motion to add a multiplier of .7. Daniel, chairman, asks: is that a friendly amendment to Jack’s?

3:53:01 PM: Travelstead: I’ll accept the .7 as friendly if we eliminate the .5 and the .25. ZING.

3:54:36 PM: Move to amend the motion to include .7 as a multiplier in Table 10. Motion by Fegley (MD) and 2nd by Simpson (CT).

3:54:57 PM: Jack Travelstead (VA): Move to amend to eliminate the .25 and .5 as multipliers. Seconded by McElroy.

3:55:39 PM: Bill GOldsborough: If we used the ORCS approach, which is used by @NOAA regional fishery councils, you would get a multiplier of .25

3:56:04 PM: Bill G: Our best advisable approach is to stick with the table that the advisory panel recommended. I’ll offer whatever motion is necessary

3:58:29 PM: Voting commences on Jack Travelstead’s amendment. ANNND the motion fails.

3:59:09 PM: Voting on Fegley’s motion to include .7 as an option. MOTION FAILS.

4:08:53 PM: Travelstead: I can’t believe that we would want comment on option that would cut harvest of this fishery by 75%

4:09:48 PM: Travelstead: The reduction fishery would disappear immediately. can’t believe it. Move to amend to indicate that we remove .25 multiplier

4:13:20 PM: Motion to eliminate Options, A, B under section, TAC setting method, use options developed by PDT in AP report w/ elimination of .25

4:13:34 PM: Passes unanimously. #menhaden

4:30:16 PM: Bill Adler, MA: Bill: Sometimes the menhaden show up and we don’t want to be limited in gear type to use to catch them.

4:33:17 PM: Stockwell, ME: if we go state by state,
I see every state north of NY not having a fishery anymore. How can you ask that? Profoundly unfair

4:34:40 PM: Stockwell: we will be kicking and screaming all the way through the amendment.

4:35:14 PM: Train, Maine: Sometimes fish are so thick off the coast that there are die-offs. If we don’t have the opportunity to fish, will be a waste

4:35:39 PM: Daniel: If we go with the simple breakdown of bait quota and reduction quota, it wouldn’t be divided up by region.

4:35:44 PM: Daniel: There would be a coastwide quota and there would be a race to the fish.

4:36:19 PM: Stockwell: There’s nothing in here that works for us in Maine. I suggest the PDT finds something that could work for episodic fisheries

4:36:43 PM: Daniel suggests adding an option D: board specifies percentage annually or for multiple years.

4:37:30 PM: #Menhaden meeting is going 2 hours late here at the ASMFC. Things got a little brutal. #fishfight

4:42:54 PM: Here’s a major motion coming down the pike by Lynn Fegley, Maryland.

4:45:40 PM: Motion: Add a 30/70 split, a 40/60 split, and a 50/50 split in allocation between bait and reduction industries.

4:47:27 PM: Motion seconded by Pete Himchak.

4:47:42 PM: Kyle Schick: Okay, Let’s put a motion in here to get rid of the reduction industry. Is that what people want?

4:49:26 PM: Daniel: the concern there is that if we do have river herring listed as an endangered species, that could disrupt the supply of bait

4:50:00 PM: Daniel: That could have tremendous implications for lobster fishery. Lobster fishermen could then outcompete the southern blue crab fishery

4:54:52 PM: Travelstead: What you are getting at is eliminating reduction fishery from the East Coast. How can you justify this?

4:55:18 PM: Roll call vote:
null ME
abstain PRFC
no VA, NC

4:55:26 PM: PASSES.

4:55:49 PM: That’s all folks! THey will take public comment at another period, to be determined. The sturgeon board is now starting.