New Forage Fish Plan Will Help Sustain Wildlife, People

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Menhaden Management Board’s unanimous adoption of a new model for managing forage fish like menhaden will help strengthen the hand of species like whales, porpoises, osprey, eagles, sharks, striped bass and bluefish. Ecological Reference Points are a long-heralded scientific model for managing species like menhaden, which are a forage base for numerous predators, to ensure that a sufficient amount of the species remains unfished to account for these predator needs.

The management approach will account for the role that menhaden play in the diet of striped bass and other important fish species, and is a pioneering precedent in the better management of forage fish that will serve as a world-wide model.

“A kid in Queens who has seen a huge resurgence of Humpback whales in New York City waters across the last decade and a striped bass angler in the Chesapeake Bay have this in common – abundant menhaden are responsible for their cherished experiences,” said Zach Cockrum, Northeast director of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation. “The adoption of Ecological Reference Points to manage menhaden by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commissioners will help millions of Americans to see thriving populations of whales, porpoises, osprey, eagles, sharks, striped bass and bluefish in the future. We look forward to working with the commission to implement the Ecological Reference Points and encourage the development of more complex models to ensure we are accounting for all ecosystem benefits of menhaden.”

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s vote follows months-longs efforts of scientists, recreational anglers, birders and wildlife watchers urging commissioners to support ecological management of menhaden, including a letter from the National Wildlife Federation and 12 of its state-based affiliates along the Atlantic coast.

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