Attorney General Gansler Urges Stronger Menhaden Protections
Interstate commission meeting in Baltimore on Friday
Baltimore, MD ( Dec. 13, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is continuing his call for robust action to protect menhaden as the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) meets Friday in Baltimore to vote on and enact a plan to manage what is known as "the most important fish in the sea." Attorney General Gansler believes that strong and prompt action from the ASMFC, the interstate body tasked with managing the menhaden population, is needed to prevent further environmental and economic damage to the Chesapeake Bay. The historic decline of this species, caused by overfishing, has ravaged this vital link in the Bay's food chain.
"These little fish are a big deal to the health and vitality of the Chesapeake Bay. The Commission must act responsibly and enact a plan to protect the Atlantic menhaden," said Attorney General Gansler. "The Commission has taken the first important steps in the right direction over the past year and now it's time to demonstrate a commitment to getting the job done."
Attorney General Gansler submitted comments to the ASMFC at several stages in their deliberative process as it has considered a range of management measures for the menhaden fishery and the timeline in which to implement them. The Atlantic menhaden 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.
From comments submitted by Attorney General Gansler to ASMFC in November:
"We expect ... the Commission ... to implement fishery-specific management tools that will ensure adequate protection and the return of menhaden to sustainable levels. ... only through strong, comprehensive, and continuing Commission management informed by ecosystem-wide data, can the menhaden resource be saved from collapse, and returned to a population level that allows for a fishery that is both robust and sustainable."