Attorney General Gansler Continues Call for Greater Menhaden Protections
Asks interstate commission to impose robust catch controls in short order
Baltimore, MD (April 19, 2012) - In an ongoing effort to combat further environmental and economic damage to the Chesapeake Bay from the historic decline of Atlantic menhaden, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today asked the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) - the interstate body tasked with managing menhaden - to move quickly and adopt stronger menhaden protections. Attorney General Gansler is calling for sector-specific quotas to ensure that fishing interests with the greatest impact on the menhaden fishery do their part to reverse the decline of this species that is a vital link in the Bay food chain.
"The ASMFC must rise to its responsibility and protect the Atlantic menhaden," said Attorney General Gansler. "The Commission took an important first step in the right direction by establishing a new fishing mortality threshold and target. It's time to demonstrate the commitment to making sure the job gets done."
Attorney General Gansler submitted a comment to the ASMFC as it considers a range of management measures for the menhaden fishery and the timeline in which to implement them. The Atlantic menhaden has been called "the most important fish in the sea" and is crucial to the health of the Bay because of its role as a filter and forage fish. Menhaden remove plankton from Bay waters and serve as a staple food in the diets of species like osprey and striped bass, Maryland's state fish.
In his comment, Attorney General Gansler called on the ASMFC to consider implementing a weighted quota system that addresses each fishing interest in proportion to its environmental impact. Those interests include industrial reduction processing, commercial fishing, and recreational fishing.
"The Commission should look toward equitably managing the resource, such that the responsibilities of increasing the menhaden population to a sustainable level are shouldered more by those actors who play more of a role in decreasing the menhaden population," Attorney General Gansler wrote."
Attorney General Gansler also reminded the ASMFC of its obligation to move quickly.
"In order to meet its obligations under Addendum V and effectively protect the health of the Atlantic menhaden population, the Commission should move to achieve the new F target within three years, and should begin to implement landing reductions at the start of the 2013 fishing season. Applying this time frame will demonstrate the Commission's commitment to meaningful, sustainable menhaden management. It will also enable the Commission to advance its stated vision of 'healthy, self-sustaining populations for all Atlantic coast fish species or successful restoration well in progress by the year 2015."
The ASMFC will be considering the Attorney General's comment and others as it prepares a revised fishery management plan to be voted on later this year.