Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Summer Meeting
Alexandria VA / August 1-3 2017.
The overarching highlight of the ASMFC Summer Meeting was the Menhaden Management Board which continued development of Amendment 3 to the Menhaden Fishery Management Plan.
The Board received a stock assessment update and as was expected, Menhaden remain healthy and are not overfished nor is overfishing occurring. Additionally, total fishing mortality is estimated to be below both the fishing mortality threshold and target. The stock assessment update uses the same modeling as the last benchmark assessment in 2015 but calculates values using updated data through 2016.
The Board also took a major step forward in the development of Amendment 3 by approving Draft Amendment 3 for Public Hearings. Draft Amendment 3 has two major issues anglers should care about:
The first issue is the transition to using Ecological Reference Points (ERP’s) to guide management of Atlantic Menhaden. For years the public has complained that forage fish like Menhaden should be managed as food for predators in the water and then human harvest. This is of course a simple explanation and science etc is not simple. There are many options and Fissues.org will cover this issue heavily in the coming weeks.
The second issue in Draft Amendment 3 is re-allocation and a dozen questions/issues related to who and how menhaden are harvested along the coast.
Draft Amendment 3 is now open for Public Comment. The entire document can be found at this LINK
Public Hearings on Draft Amendment 3 will begin on Sept 11 in CT & continue through October 5 in MA. For our readers convenience we have added the essential info on the hearings to our Fissues.org calendar. The complete public hearing schedule can be found here
What Else Happened?
The process of fisheries management can be boring, especially when the work being done does not have and immediate effect on your fishing. That is why we at FISSSUES provide these quickie summary reports. For this ASMFC meeting week; outside of the big menhaden action there were no other major decisions. Most were outside what the recreational community would be passionate about. The following is our recap of who met and what they did during the week:
The South Atlantic State/Federal Fisheries Management Board received benchmark stock assessment and peer review reports for Atlantic Croaker & Spot.
The Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) Coordinating Council approved what is called the MRIP Atlantic Regional Implementation Plan. In simple terms, some middle of the process technical decisions were made regarding the never ending journey that is managing a system to monitor and figure out how many fish are caught, released, or kept by recreational anglers.
The American Lobster Management Board initiated and Addendum to increase resiliency of the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank stock.
The Shad & River Herring Management Board received a stock assessment update that indicated River Herring remain depleted ion a coast wide basis however there have been some improvements in specific river systems.
The American Eel Management Board made some minor management decisions.
The Interstate Fisheries Management Board discussed in detail the Secretary of Commerce decision to not agree with the ASMFC decision to find NJ out of compliance regarding Summer Flounder. There was a lengthly discussion. Quite frankly this issue has been discussed so much if you want to learn more please start here (Insert link) ASMFC leadership has requested a face to face meeting with the Secretary.
The Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board met and rescinded a winter possession limit decision on black seabass that was originally made May. Anglers should check their state regulations to see if this effects them.
The Tautog Management Board chose not to take action on Amendment 1 as some states need to work on better alternative management strategies.