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  #1  
Old 08-25-2004, 09:49 AM
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Default Menhaden** News: "The Latest"

You can't find anyone around the shores of the Chesapeake Bay who doesn't have an opinion on the scarcity of menhaden, a small and oily fish that is at the center of decades-old arguments about potential overfishing by selfish commercial interests.
Talk to saltwater sport fishermen in Maryland and Virginia and they will tell you the rockfish (striped bass) they are catching look undernourished, with skin blemishes that some believe are a result of a lack of proper nutrition ? which primarily is made up of menhaden.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and its Atlantic Menhaden Management Board recently approved an addendum to its Interstate Fishery Management Plan that modifies the plan's biological reference points, schedule for stock assessments and habitat provisions regarding this highly important predator forage species. It also is used for various industrial products, including fish oils, vitamins and animal feed.
The addendum is based in part on the recommendations of a menhaden technical committee, which found in its 2003 stock assessment that menhaden are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring on a coastwide basis. This assessment alone will give concerned sport anglers a massive headache because they believe the exact opposite is true.
The latest menhaden population assessment by the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review Panel uses a new modeling approach and fecundity-based biological reference points to determine stock status. These reference points, the ASMFC says, are more accurate and take into account the number of mature ova (eggs). This is a significant departure from the way menhaden assessments have been conducted in the past. The addendum changes the plan's fishing mortality target and threshold levels as recommended by the technical committee.
The ASMFC's management board also will address concerns regarding the possible localized depletion of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay. A workshop is scheduled Oct. 12-14 that will examine the menhaden's ecological role, especially as a forage fish, and identify management options with respect to this role. Workshop participants will include state, federal and university personnel with expertise in the ecological role of Atlantic menhaden, predator-prey interactions, localized depletion and fisheries ecosystem plans.
The entire addendum can be seen on the commission's Web site at www.asmfc.org or can be obtained by contacting the commission at 202/289-6400.
Meanwhile, we doubt that anyone at the ASMFC can convince Marylanders and Virginians that all is OK with menhaden populations.
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  #2  
Old 09-05-2004, 07:08 AM
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When we were out last year I did not see any large schools of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay.
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Old 12-03-2004, 05:19 PM
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Default Menhaden** News: "The Latest"

ASMFC calls for more menhaden study

By Karl Blankenship
A regional fisheries agency has called for stepped-up research to assess whether the Chesapeake?s ecology is being affected by the menhaden catch taken from the Bay.

Menhaden are a major food for striped bass and an important water-clearing, filter feeder. But their numbers have declined in the Chesapeake, although the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which manages migratory fish, says the coastwide menhaden stock is healthy.

Fishermen blame the lack of menhaden for an abundance of thin rockfish in the Bay, and a recently formed coalition of environmental and fishing groups, called Menhaden Matter, is pushing for caps on the Bay harvest. Menhaden support, by far, the largest commercial Bay fishery.

Menhaden reproduction has been poor in recent years, leading to fewer small fish for striped bass. But because the ASMFC?s stock assessment shows a healthy number of spawning-age menhaden, many scientists say overfishing is not a problem. Others contend that because the stock assessment covers the entire coastal population, it could miss localized problems for the Chesapeake.

In November, the ASMFC?s Menhaden Management Board called for a series of studies, including a review of whether a localized depletion of the menhaden stock is taking place in the Bay. It also wants a review of likely causes for the declining numbers of young fish, and an analysis of whether Bay-specific restrictions are warranted. It asked for a preliminary report by next August.

?The Board wants to ensure that its decisions are scientifically sound and represent the consensus of all interested stakeholders,? said board chair Jack Travelstead, of the Virginia Marine Resource Commission.

But the Menhaden Matter group expressed dismay, saying the commission should have at a minimum capped the menhaden catch in the Bay at current levels. ?What we?re looking for is a long-term solution, but also short-term protection,? said Bill Goldsborough, senior scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which is a member of the coalition. ?What we proposed was really modest.?

The commercial catch in the Bay has declined in recent years, but the industry, based in Reedville, VA, has opposed capping catch levels, saying the move lacks scientific justification, and opens the door to further restrictions in the future. Industry representatives, and some scientists, have suggested the shortage of young menhaden in the Bay is more likely the result of predation by striped bass.

Jim Price, president of the Chesapeake Bay Ecological Foundation and a former charter boat captain who has raised concerns about the lack of menhaden in the Bay for years, called the ASMFC action a good ?first step. I?m pleased that the states did what they did,? he said. ?If they had asked for any more at this time, they probably wouldn?t have gotten enough states to do anything.?

Karl is the editor of the bay journal http://www.bayjournal.com/
See Also:
Menhaden stock perplexes fish managers
Striped bass suffer as overfishing eats away at their prey, menhaden
Exploitation of menhaden threatens Chesapeake?s restoration
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  #4  
Old 12-06-2004, 08:06 PM
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Default Menhaden** News: "The Latest"

Menhaden matters

December 5, 2004

An oily, bony, little fish, menhaden isn't likely to end up on your table. But it might be in the feed that fattened that meat on your plate, or the cat's food, or the Omega-3 fish oil capsules health-conscious folks are popping. Why should you care about menhaden? Because it is one of the most crucial species in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, and it's in trouble. It needs protection - but with deft decision-making that takes into account the complex ecological and economic web of which it is a part, and the web of interests that will be affected.

Menhaden has two critical functions to which fisheries regulators must be sensitive.

One is economic. Menhaden sustains a big, profitable industry dominated, in Virginia, by Houston-based powerhouse Omega Protein. Its processing plant in Reedsville is one of the Northern Neck's key employers.

The other is environmental. Menhaden are scaly, finned Chesapeake-Bay-cleaning machines. Algae-eating menhaden are on the front line of defense against the massive algae blooms, fueled by nitrogen pollution, that rob the bay of life-sustaining oxygen. With most of the filtering capacity of oysters lost, menhaden are more important than ever.

Menhaden are also a linchpin in the food chain, a primary food of predator fish such as striped bass (rockfish) and bluefish as well as osprey, loons and marine mammals.

But some scientists are worried about this vital cog in the ecosystem, and particularly about the population of young fish in the bay, which is prime nursery grounds. Problems here, if left unchecked, could have widespread consequences: robbing the bay of menhaden's beneficial effect on water quality, depriving the larger Atlantic coast population of young, and reducing the food supply of predators.

The reasons menhaden are in trouble can be debated. Climate may play a part, or pollution, or the success of efforts to protect striped bass, creating a population that has outstripped its food supply (which may help explain why striped bass have become smaller, thinner and sickly).

Or overfishing - 300 million pounds of menhaden were landed in Virginia in 2002. When other Atlantic coast states clamped down on industrial menhaden fishing, it concentrated the harvest in Virginia waters. Nearly three-fourths of the East Coast catch is taken in Virginia's portion of the bay and adjoining waters. With demand for its heart-healthy oil booming, fishing pressure isn't likely to slack off.

While the causes of menhaden's troubles can be debated, the need for action can't. Since we can't control climate, and reversing pollution is a long-term undertaking, the only reasonable response is to manage what we can: the catch.

It is inconceivable that there are no limits on the size of the harvest of this important species. Says Bill Goldsborough, senior scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation: "We no longer have the luxury of conducting an industrial scale fishery with no catch limits on an ecologically critical species in the Chesapeake Bay." The 15-state regulatory body that oversees Atlantic Coast commercial fisheries is in the thick of studying the problem and could decide to use its authority to impose limits. That would force Virginia to act. Or Virginia can act on its own.

There is no guarantee that catch restrictions will be the fix menhaden need, since the industry doesn't target young fish. But conservationists' argument is logical: Better to take the common-sense step, which cannot harm the menhaden population and could benefit it, than pass up the chance to protect a critical species. It only makes sense to manage a vital resource. For object lessons on the consequences of failing to prevent over-harvesting of species in trouble, Virginia need look no further than two other icons of Virginia marine life: oysters and blue crabs.

The first step is to assign responsibility for menhaden to professional fisheries managers. The General Assembly should bring this critical marine resource under the oversight of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission - and give it the money to do the research and the work. It must correct the mistake it made in the last session when it killed a bill directing the VMRC to develop a plan for managing menhaden fishing in Virginia.

The first job for fisheries managers will be to take a hard look at the case for interim catch restrictions. Designing them will require delicacy in balancing competing needs: of industry and sport fishermen, of the fishery that catches menhaden for processing and the smaller but significant industry that catches it for bait. It will require tackling questions about how striped bass figure in and whether catch limits on predators should be eased. And exploring how decisions about Virginia will affect the larger coast-wise population. It all points to the need to consider menhaden as part of an ecosystem, an approach that is compelling in theory but messy and complex in practice.

Given menhaden's critical role in the food chain and water quality, environmental concerns must take precedence. While economics is always a consideration, it is secondary - a fact some legislators might forget given the $32,000 in political contributions Omega Protein has spread around in Virginia.

The important thing is to be proactive - not wait until the tipping point is passed. While disciplined research is vital, ultimately science can only provide guidelines, but cannot point toward a clear, unambiguous answer. Research must go on - and be better funded - but, says Goldsborough, "We don't have time to wait." Interim catch limits make sense while science goes ahead.

Careful management of menhaden is, in the long run, the only way to protect this critical marine resource and its contribution to the health of the bay and the state's economy. n

Reality check

If menhaden fishing evokes a misty image of ruggedly independent watermen singing chanteys while hauling in nets, think again. Planes spot schools of menhaden, and a few large ships literally vacuum up giant catches.

This is big business, and in regulating it, Virginia will face off with a deep-pocketed corporation experienced in the rough and tumble.

The vast majority of Virginia's catch is in the holds of a single company, Omega Protein.

The majority owner of Omega Protein is Zapata, the oil (petroleum, not fish) firm founded by George Herbert Walker Bush.

Today Zapata and Omega Protein are controlled by another powerful clan, headed by Palm Beach billionaire Malcolm Glazer. Son Avram Glazer is chairman of both Omega Protein and Zapata. The patriarch owns, in addition to a real estate empire, football's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and has tried to acquire the Los Angeles Dodgers, Harley-Davidson, rail giant Conrail - and, most recently, British soccer legends Manchester United.

Omega isn't always an ideal neighbor: Two years ago, the state Department of Environmental Quality fined it for violating clean-water regulations.
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  #5  
Old 02-01-2005, 12:14 AM
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Default Bunker management conflict and competition

The primary source of menhaden mortality - the striped bass?
Excerps are from an article written by Niels Moore who represents
an organization that protects the commercial fishing interests in Chantilly Va.
http://www.menhaden.org/
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission convened a workshop of federal, state and university scientists to directly address thr depletion of Menhaden in the chesapeake. In all, 27 marine scientists participated in the workshop from respected academic institutions including the University of Maryland's Chesapeake Biological Lab, the NOAA Oxford Lab, the U.S. Geological Survey's Great Lakes Science Center, numerous state-level marine fishery departments, as well as the commonwealth's own Virginia Institute of Marine Science. After three days of scientific presentations and deliberations, these Ph.D.-level scientists concluded that no additional immediate regulations are necessary to properly regulate the menhaden fishery.
The commercial harvests account for only a very small percentage of the total mortality within the menhaden population.
Specifically, scientists currently estimate that 410 billion fish comprise the total menhaden population. For every 1,000 menhaden in this population, only two are harvested on an annual basis. In other words, 99.8 percent of all menhaden are not harvested by commercial fishermen in any given year.
Clearly, predation by the highly abundant striped bass is a far greater source of mortality to the menhaden population than commercial harvests.
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Old 02-10-2005, 12:23 AM
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Default Menhaden** News: "The Latest"

Maryland DNR Press Release

http://www.dnr.state.md.us/dnrnews/p...05/020905.html
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  #7  
Old 02-10-2005, 10:13 PM
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OUTSTANDING! THIS COMES ON THE HEELS OF A STATE BY STATE ADDENDUM (OPTIONAL OF COURSE) BUT THIS STARTS THE BALL ROLLING ALL THE WAY UP THE COAST. BETWEEN THE STRIPER/BLUEFISH/LOONS/PELICANS/OSPREY/GULLS//HUMANS/ THIS VITAL PLANKTON SLAYER HAS TO BE PRESERVED FOR THE WATER QUALITY IF ONLY BY ITSELF.
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Old 02-10-2005, 11:55 PM
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Default Menhaden** News: "The Latest"

Fisheries Commission Board Recommends Limits on Menhaden
Thursday, Feb. 10, 2005

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission took the first steps Wednesday toward setting a cap on the commercial harvest of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay.

The vote by the commission's menhaden board, which was pushed by Maryland officials, recommends capping the yearly menhaden catch at 110,000 metric tons, which is the average of the last five harvests.

"We definitely wanted a cap put on the harvest," said Richard Novotny, executive directory of the Maryland State Saltwater Sportfisherman's Association. "As far as we're concerned, it's too high a cap, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

The proposed addendum to the menhaden management is expected to be voted on by the full commission in August. The cap is meant to prevent permanent damage to the species, which is thought to play an important role in the health of the bay.

But Omega Protein Corp., which is the only company engaged in large-scale commercial harvesting of menhaden in the bay, is opposed to any cap.

"Omega is concerned that the ASMFC seems to have abandoned the science-based fisheries management process," said Toby Gascon, a spokesman for Omega.

The company's menhaden catching and processing facility is based in Reedville, Va. The Virginia representative was one of the dissenting votes on the commission's 12-3 vote Wednesday for a menhaden cap.
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Old 02-14-2005, 05:18 PM
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Default bunker stock

there is a correlation between the stripers and comm. fisheries. in that the problem lies with the striper taking young menhadden at an alarming rate (getting them before the comm.'s do and because your younger (protected) bass do not target the larger menhadden. (not to say they cannot or would not) but statistically, this has been what the asmfc has been looking at. and because of the $ amount to perform menhadden testings due to environmental variables and infectious disease(mycobacteriosis which is purportedly due to lack of food in diet) are just not available so we rely on what is told us. (omega) has given a long drawn up report on how the menhadden stock is fine when that is just not true.(THEY HARVEST 100 TONS OF MENHADDEN DAILY!) lack of oxygen in the estuaries where the bunker grow to age 0-1 has a huge mortality rate in the chesapeake especially.the waters have depended on the plankton eating fish for generations and the complexion of this ecosystem is being altered at an alarming rate.because of the prevailing southwesterly flow in tidal situations the effects on the salinity of the waters creates a transportation effect where concentrations of menhadden will reside where the plankton and bacteria are prevalent and although they migrate offshore to spawn, may choose to slowly veer away from previous haunts hense the slow decline in bunker in northern waters. most of the bunker seen in the northeast has been huge pods of adult bunker and not as numerous as past years. TOO MANY BASS AND TOO MUCH OVERFISHING! osprey/loons/pelicans/are another bioindicator not factored into the equasion. IMO
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Old 02-14-2005, 05:32 PM
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we should force the bastids to synthesize omega threes from other sources and let nature take its course. The price of omega 3s will skyrocket and I for one dont give a steamy dump if it does. Supply and demand.
NJ and MD already banned them. Reedsville employs only a few hundred employees in Virginia. I dont want to see them lose jobs but if they retool for aquaculture they will need to add more employees but less profits for the fat cats.
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Old 02-14-2005, 05:50 PM
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don't you know! it's a needy commodity! they will say and do anything to rape the water and screw the estuaries and those pain in the ass fisherman. we gotta earn a living too!# how about the ranchers in utah who own the land but not whats beneath it so gas companies can go onto thier land and drill for natural gas and just riddle the landscape with wells and deplete the water source. thing is the rancher gets a yearly check for 2500.00 and these scumbags are making millions!
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Old 02-14-2005, 05:56 PM
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not if we ban together and scream bloody murder. !!!!
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Old 02-14-2005, 05:58 PM
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exactly what it is.
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Old 03-22-2005, 12:02 AM
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Default Menhaden** News: "The Latest"

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is expected to approve a research plan next month that includes money to use Light Detection and Ranging technology to learn more about menhaden.
Called Lidar for short, it can be deployed by aircraft to quickly count the number of menhaden in any given area.
"My understanding is it can be tuned to evaluate the size of a school of fish," said Bob Beal, director of the commission's interstate fisheries management program. It can give you a pretty good read of the menhaden population in the bay."
Lidar was originally developed for military and weather monitoring purposes about 30 years ago. Marine biologists have recently found it useful for counting unseen fish beneath the waves.
"It's the same technology as acoustic sonar, but instead of using sound waves, it shoots light waves" to detect objects, said Behzad Mahmoudie, chairman of the com- mission's technical committee that recommended the Lidar study.
Mahmoudie, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, has used Lidar in Florida to conduct censuses of herring, mullet and sardines.
"We have been able to cover a 60-mileby 20-mile-wide grid in one day," he said. That largely eliminates the chances of counting the same fish over and over using traditional trawls pulled by boat.
The commission is considering trying Lidar in a two-year pilot study that would cost about $550,000, said commission executive director John V. O'Shea. He said he will ask conservation groups to chip in on the cost. A full-length study would probably require several years of Lidar work "to pick out trends," Beal added.
The commission has never attempted to analyze the status of menhaden in the bay. It has monitored menhaden only on a coastwide basis and concluded that the fish is not being overharvested.
But a variety of conservation and recreational fishing groups have demanded a closer look at the menhaden harvest in the bay.
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Old 03-23-2005, 10:32 PM
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THESE NITWITS HAVE THEIR HEADS UP THIER ASSES IF THEY THINK THEY'RE NOT BEING OVERFISHED! BETWEEN COMM'S AND BASS/BLUEFISH/BACTERIA IN THE BAYS THERE IS DEFINATELY A PROBLEM BUT IT ISN'T ON PAPER SO IT DON'T EXIST.
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