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Atlantic States Schedule Hearings on Atlantic Menhaden Draft Addendum V

Atlantic coastal states from Maine through North Carolina have scheduled their hearings to gather public comment on Draft Addendum V to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden. The dates, times, and locations of the scheduled meetings follow:

Maine Department of Marine Resources
October 3, 2011; 6 - 9 PM
The Yarmouth Log Cabin
196 Main Street
Yarmouth, Maine
Contact: Terry Stockwell at 207.624.6553

New Hampshire Fish and Game
October 4, 2011; 7 PM
Urban Forestry Center
45 Elwyn Road
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Contact: Doug Grout at 603.868.1095

Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
September 28, 2011; 7 PM
CoCo Key Hotel & Water Resort-Boston
Newburyport Room
50 Ferncroft Road
Danvers, Massachusetts
Contact: David Pierce at 617.626.1532

Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife
October 5, 2011; 6:00 PM
URI Narragansett Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium
South Ferry Road
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Contact: Jason McNamee at 401.423.1943

Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection
September 28, 2011; 4 - 6 PM
Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science &
Technology Center
60 St Stephens Road
Bridgeport, Connecticut
Contact: David Simpson at 860.434.6043

October 5, 2011; 4 - 6 PM
The Sound School
60 South Water St
New Haven, Connecticut
Contact: David Simpson at 860.434.6043

October 12, 2011; 7 PM
CT DEEP Marine Headquarters
333 Ferry Road
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Contact: David Simpson at 860.434.6043

New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife
September 29, 2011; 7:00 PM
Township of Toms River
33 Washington Street
L.M. Hirshblond Room
Toms River, New Jersey
Contact: Peter Himchak 609.748.2020

Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Control
September 26, 2011; 7:00 PM
Lewes Field Facility
901 Pilottown Road
Lewes, Delaware
Contact: Jeff Tinsman at 302.739.4782

Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources
October 11, 2011; 6 - 9 PM
Tawes State Office Building, C1 Conference Room
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland
Contact: Lynn Fegley at 410.260.8285

Virginia Marine Resources Commission
October 17, 2011; 6 PM
North Umberland High School Auditorium
201 Academic Lane
Heathsville, Virginia
Contact: Jack Travelstead at 757.247.2248

Potomac River Fisheries Commission
October 18, 2011; 6:30 PM
John T Parran Hearing room
PRFC Commission Building
222 Taylor St.
Colonial Beach, Virginia
Contact: AC Carpenter at 804.224.7148

North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries
October 13, 2011; 6 PM
Dare County Administration Building, Room 168
954 Marshall C. Collins Drive
Manteo, North Carolina
Contact: Michelle Duval at 252.808.8011

The Draft Addendum proposes establishing a new fishing mortality threshold and target (based on maximum spawning potential or MSP) with the goal of increasing abundance, spawning stock biomass, and menhaden availability as a forage species.


The Draft Addendum will also initiate the scoping process (comparable to that of a Public Information Document) on the suite of management tools that could be used to implement the new fishing mortality threshold and target levels. As in a PID, it will contain preliminary discussions of biological, environmental, social, and economic information, fishery issues, and potential management options for action through an addendum.

The MSP approach, as recommended by the 2009 peer review panel, identifies the fishing mortality rate necessary to maintain a given level of stock fecundity (number of mature ova) relative to the potential maximum stock fecundity under unfished conditions.

The Draft Addendum presents two options for the new interim fishing mortality threshold (status quo based on an MSP of 8% and an MSP of 15%) and four options for the interim fishing mortality target (status quo and F based on MSPs of 20, 30 and 40%). For illustration purposes, a 15% MSP would equate to a fishing mortality rate threshold required to maintain approximately 15% of virgin stock fecundity. The current MSP level is 8%.

Based on the revised 2009 Atlantic menhaden stock assessment, menhaden was not overfished but had experienced overfishing in 2008. Given the current overfishing definition, which sets the fishing mortality rate (F) target at 0.96 and the F threshold at 2.2, this is the first time overfishing has occurred since 1998. Over the time series, overfishing had occurred in 32 of the last 54 years. The stock was also deemed as "Overfished" in 2010.

F in 2008 (the latest year in the assessment) is estimated at 2.28. The Board will meet in November at the Commission's Annual Meeting to review public comment and consider final action on the Addendum. Having gathered scoping information on management tools to implement Addendum V, the Board may also consider moving forward on a subsequent addendum to establish associated management measures. The Board's intent is to finalize these management measures for implementation in 2013.

Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the Draft Addendum by either attending public hearings or providing written comments. Copies of Draft Addendum V are available on the Commission's website (
www.asmfc.org) under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at 703.842.0740.

The public comment deadline has been extended to 5:00 PM (EST) on November 2, 2011 and should be forwarded to:
Toni Kerns
Senior Fishery Management Plan Coordinator for Management
1050 N. Highland St.
Suite 200 A-N
Arlington, VA 22201;

703.842.0741 (FAX)

or at [email protected] (Subject line: Menhaden Draft Addendum V).


 

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Last night's hearing in Rhode Island on this proposed amendment had about 25 attendees, including me and my wife & kids. All but one who spoke were in favor of more conservative management measures.

There was one commercial fisherman who showed up just before the meeting ended and took the floor, having not heard any of the ASMFC's presentation or subsequent discussion. He basically blasted the ASMFC for 'jumping the gun' and acting rashly and without sufficient evidence to support restrictions, clearly in denial that there is anything at all the matter with the menhaden stocks and harvesting practices. He looked like a total ass and completely out of touch with the current situation in the fishery and had no clue about the details of the amendment or how the proposed management guidelines would benefit the stocks. All he brought to the table was what we always hear from these guys, the message that government agencies are trying to hurt the fishermen who make their living on the water and any measures that would limit what they can take are unwarranted. Several of us spoke up after he was done to refute what he had to say, citing current stock assessments, more than a decade of study of the issue by the Advisory Panels and their marine fisheries science counterparts, and the fact that these measures are for the benefit of the menhaden stocks NOT the commercial fishermen who just want to continue lining their pockets as long as they can in spite of the obvious collapse of the stocks. I made it clear that the bank accounts of a few commercial fishermen should have ZERO bearing on how the stock is managed, and that the ASMFC should focus on doing whatever is necessary to protect & improve the health of the fishery. THAT is their job, not catering to a commercial sector who clearly have no regard for what this guy termed "just a baitfish".

After the presentation of the details of the proposal, those present were asked to comment regarding their recommendations on the following points. This is from my notes taken during the hearing, but I did double check it against the original document to make sure I had everything correct:

Management Options:

A. Thresholds
Option 1: Status Quo F Threshold (harvesting to a threshold of 8% of Maximum Spawning Potential (MSP).
Option 2: 15% MSP as an F Threshold (leaving a larger percentage of the spawning stock unfished, and lowering the threshold that determines whether or not the stock is considered 'overfished'.

We should be supporting Option 2.

B. Targets
Management Options for changes in the F target Reference Point
Option 1: Status Quo F Target - Current tarted is a Fishing Mortality (F) target of 2.28, which exceeds both the threshold and the target, and has resulted in the current determination that overfishing IS occurring.
Option 2: 20% of MSP as an F target - This would result in a 27% reduction in harvest from 2010 levels
Option 3: 30% of MSP as an F target - This would result in a 37% reduction in harvest from 2010 levels
Option 4: 40% of MSP as an F target - This would result in a 45% reduction in harvest from 2010 levels

Most at the hearing supported either Option 3 or Option 4. I voted for Option 4. I honestly do not think that Option 4 will be adopted, but if they see that the majority of us want Option 4, they may lean toward the conservative side here.

2.3.2 Proposed Management Tools Options (These are the proposed options for tools that could be used to result in the reduction in harvest asked for above)

2.3.2.1 Recreational Fishery
Option 1: Status Quo - No recreational management measures
Option 2: Size Limits
Option 3: Bag Limits
Option 4: Seasonal Restrictions

At the beginning, most were supporting Option 3: Bag Limits for the recreational fishery. I got up to the podium as quickly as I could and explained why Option 4 was the only viable option here. Given the way that Menhaden are fished for and used recreationally, (i.e. snag and drop fishing, fishing to use for bait on site, etc.) neither size limits nor possession limits would be effective or enforceable, in my opinion. The ONLY measure that could actually stand any chance of being effective and enforceable is a seasonal restriction. After I made this comment, more supported Option 4.

2.3.2.2 Commercial Fishery
Option 1: Status Quo - The only harvest restriction currently in place is an annual quota in the Chesapeake, no quota limits elsewhere)
Option 2: Trip Limits - Catch is restricted using a maximum poundage allowance per trip or day.
Option 3: Gear Restrictions - Gear modifications (i.e mesh size, overall net size, etc) are used to reduce the amount of catch.
Option 4: Seasonal Closures - Season length is restricted to certain time periods.
Option 5: Area Closures - Fishing is prohibited in certain areas (i.e. spawning grounds, etc.)
Option 6: Quotas - limit on total amount of fish allowed to be harvested coast-wide.
Option 7: Effort Controls - Restriction on days at sea. Vessel size & capacity.
Option 8: Limited Entry - a limited number of participants would be permitted to fish commercially for Atlantic menhaden.

Most supported a suite of options including Options 2 - 6. I included Option 7 in my recommendation. I'm not sure yet if I would officially support Option 8, but do see that it could have some merit.
 

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I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is for YOU to take a moment to send in your message of support for these conservation measures.

The public comment deadline has been extended to 5:00 PM (EST) on November 2, 2011 and should be forwarded to:
Toni Kerns
Senior Fishery Management Plan Coordinator for Management
1050 N. Highland St.
Suite 200 A-N
Arlington, VA 22201;

703.842.0741 (FAX)

or by email to [email protected](Subject line: Menhaden Draft Addendum V).

Here is a draft email that you may copy/paste. All you have to do is add your name and location. PLEASE do so immediately! I urge every single member to send this in. Please post in this thread after you have sent it, so that I can keep track of how many comments have been sent in by our membership.

Subject line: Menhaden Draft Addendum V

Hi Toni,
I am a recreational fisherman from _____ , and am concerned about the overfishing that is occurring in the Atlantic Menhaden fishery. Studies show that this fishery has been over fished in 32 out of the last 54 years, and the menhaden population has declined by at least 88% in the last 3 decades.

It is time for the ASMFC to take a proactive approach to the management of this fishery and uphold its mission statement of achieving "Healthy, self-sustaining populations for all Atlantic Coast fish species, or successful restoration well in progress, by the year 2015."

With regard to Addendum V, please register my support of the following options:

Management Options:

A. Thresholds
Option 1: Status Quo F Threshold (harvesting to a threshold of 8% of Maximum Spawning Potential (MSP).
Option 2: 15% MSP as an F Threshold (leaving a larger percentage of the spawning stock unfished, and lowering the threshold that determines whether or not the stock is considered 'overfished'.​

I strongly support Option 2.

B. Targets
Management Options for changes in the F target Reference Point
Option 1: Status Quo F Target - Current target is a Fishing Mortality (F) target of 2.28, which exceeds both the threshold and the target, and has resulted in the current determination that overfishing IS occurring.
Option 2: 20% of MSP as an F target - This would result in a 27% reduction in harvest from 2010 levels
Option 3: 30% of MSP as an F target - This would result in a 37% reduction in harvest from 2010 levels
Option 4: 40% of MSP as an F target - This would result in a 45% reduction in harvest from 2010 levels​

I strongly support Option 4.

2.3.2 Proposed Management Tools Options (These are the proposed options for tools that could be used to result in the reduction in harvest asked for above)​

2.3.2.1 Recreational Fishery
Option 1: Status Quo - No recreational management measures
Option 2: Size Limits
Option 3: Bag Limits
Option 4: Seasonal Restrictions

Given the way that Menhaden are fished for and used recreationally, (i.e. snag and drop fishing, fishing to use for bait on site, etc.) neither size limits nor possession limits would be effective or enforceable, in my opinion. The ONLY measure that could actually stand any chance of being effective and enforceable is a seasonal restriction. I support Option 4.

2.3.2.2 Commercial Fishery
Option 1: Status Quo - The only harvest restriction currently in place is an annual quota in the Chesapeake, no quota limits elsewhere)
Option 2: Trip Limits - Catch is restricted using a maximum poundage allowance per trip or day.
Option 3: Gear Restrictions - Gear modifications (i.e mesh size, overall net size, etc) are used to reduce the amount of catch.
Option 4: Seasonal Closures - Season length is restricted to certain time periods.
Option 5: Area Closures - Fishing is prohibited in certain areas (i.e. spawning grounds, etc.)
Option 6: Quotas - limit on total amount of fish allowed to be harvested coast-wide.
Option 7: Effort Controls - Restriction on days at sea. Vessel size & capacity.
Option 8: Limited Entry - a limited number of participants would be permitted to fish commercially for Atlantic menhaden.​


I support a suite of options including, but not limited to, Options 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7.

I also feel that it is imperative that the ASMFC work with NOAA to develop comparative management measures for Federal Waters.

Thank you for your time and dedication to improving the health of this fishery.
Sincerely,
 

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How come there are no hearings in N.Y. State? New Hampshire with it's measly 10 miles of coast gets a hearing, So does Pennsylvania. NYS with well over 300 linear miles of actual salt water coast and a major estuarian system that includes the expanse of the south shore and the Hudson River, gets left out ! Why?

joe
 
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