Chesapeake Menhaden from NCMC
SAVE THE STRIPERS
Environmentalists and Recreational Anglers Applaud Steps To
Protect Menhaden and the Chesapeake Bay
Alexandria, VA - The impact of the depletion in Chesapeake Bay of Atlantic menhaden, a critical source of forage for striped bass and other predators, will be assessed this summer due to action taken this week by a multi-state regulatory body.
At the request of recreational fishing and environmental groups, the 15-state Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has agreed to bring together leading scientists and stakeholders to examine the status of menhaden with respect to its ecological role, especially as forage fish. Emphasis will be on the implications of industrial scale fishing of menhaden concentrated in Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary. The findings from these experts will serve as the basis for consideration of interim management measures to protect menhaden abundance at the ASMFC's annual meeting in November.
"We commend the ASMFC for taking a pro-active approach to conserving menhaden and protecting the health of the Chesapeake ecosystem, an issue that means so much to so many citizens along the East Coast," said Ken Hinman, president of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation. "This action is an important first step toward an ecosystem-based approach to conserving menhaden, and could serve as a model for managing other forage species."
According to experts with NOAA Fisheries, the abundance of menhaden, also known as bunker or pogies, is near historic lows. Scientists, recreational anglers and conservationists have become increasingly concerned about the impact of large scale netting of menhaden is having on the resurgent population of striped bass, which relies on menhaden as its primary food source. In addition, menhaden are the Bay's principle filter feeders, consuming decaying plant matter and excess nutrients to reduce the build-up of oxygen robbing algae and the creation of "dead zones."
In addition to addressing short-term management issues, the multi-state commission also took action to set long range research priorities for assessing the impact of menhaden depletion on the Bay and coastal ecosystem and directed a plan be developed and resources identified to implement a multi-year research agenda.
so much gear, so little time...