Rather than adopting a new management plan that focused on the importance of menhaden to their ecosystem, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Menhaden Management Board voted to stick with the status quo.
Leading up to the vote, public sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of updating the strategy. More than 150,000 anglers and other conservationists submitted public comments in favor of accounting for menhaden's unique ecological role as a forage fish.
"The decision by ASMFC to continue the status quo management of menhaden, despite over 99 percent of all public comments supporting a change, is disappointing, to say the least," said Mike Leonard, Conservation Director at the American Sportfishing Association. "There is a broad recognition that menhaden need to be managed in a way that accounts for their benefits to the ecosystem, including as a significant portion of the diets of many sportfish populations. It's extremely unfortunate that anglers must continue to wait and hope that someday soon ASMFC will shift its management philosophy when it comes to menhaden."
Not only are menhaden a key food source for sportfish species like striped bass, bluefish, red drum, king mackerel, and cobia, but nearly every predatory fish, mammal and bird eats them at some point in their life cycle. That's a big part of the reason why so many argued they shouldn't be managed as a single species.
While the Commission didn't choose the management plan we favored, your dedication to conservation and healthy fisheries still made an important statement.
Thank you for speaking out on this important issue.