New Report Shows Menhaden Are Not Overfished, Contrary To 2012 S - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Report Shows Menhaden Are Not Overfished, Contrary To 2012 Study

 CAMBRIDGE, Md.- In 2012, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, or ASMFC released a report saying the menhaden population along the Atlantic coast was in trouble and states needed to drastically cut back on their catch limits.  But now, a scheduled external review has modified the way these studies are done, and it shows that menhaden are doing just fine.

The 643 page report says in big bold letters that the atlantic menhaden stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring, which is what the watermen have been saying all along.

It's been a hard two years for menhaden fishermen in the Chesapeake Bay.  With quota cutbacks, a group of watermen actually sued the Department of Natural Resources, saying the science behind the cutbacks was not sound.
Burl Lewis was one of the watermen in the courtroom, and today feels vindicated.  But says he doesn't want to gloat.

"I'm hoping now that it gives us the opportunity to have a situation where we can have a little better dialogue, and now we can use actual fishermen's opinions and how they feel in further regulations," said Lewis.

But that's not to say the 2012 cutbacks didn't have an effect.

"The first year they started the cutback in July, we laid crew off.  This year they started in August, we laid crew off again.  Menhaden to the crabbers are outrageously expensive.  Some guys in the south are paying $25 a box for what used to be $15."

"Captain Boo" Powley believes that politics played a role in the earlier reports.

"It just goes to show you it was more politics as usual from the ASMFC.  We didn't even have to do this," said Powley.

But the ASMFC contends the 2010 and 2012 reports were done to the best science of the time. 

In a statement, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said of the new report:

"Here in the Chesapeake Bay region, the reproductive success of the menhaden population has been poor for the last 20 years, so the numbers of juvenile menhaden that are so important to the bay's rockfish are still down."
But watermen contend that it's not due to harvesting, as juvenile fish slip right through their nets.

The ASMFC is scheduled to meet in February to discuss this report and how to move forward with regulations.  So far this report has not yet been reviewed or approved for management use yet by that board.

The full report can be found here.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's response can be found here.

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