|Press Releases | DNR Press Room | Search DNR | DNR Home|
Governor Ehrlich Takes Further Action Toward Menhaden Management in Chesapeake Bay
ALEXANDRIA – Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., today announced that efforts to reduce the harvesting of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay progressed as a fisheries management board voted to bring a proposal to cap the fishery to the public for comment.
In February, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Menhaden Management Board proposed an addendum to its management plan calling for the purse seine fishery in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay to be capped at current or average levels from recent years. The addendum adopted today calls for initiation of a public comment process on that proposal that will take approximately six months.
A purse seine is an encircling net that is drawn up from the bottom of a body of water so that it looks like a purse when it flows. Purse seines are used to capture entire schools of fish at one time. Maryland outlawed the use of purse seines in state waters in 1931.
The ASMFC’s decision to adopt the addendum was based upon the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) assertion that a potential localized depletion of menhaden would have a significant impact on the ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay. Based upon this information, the ASMFC is also initiating a research program to address the long term ecosystem effects of a concentrated menhaden fishery in the Chesapeake Bay.
“On behalf of this Administration, I would like to personally thank the fisheries stakeholders in Maryland for their advice and support on this critical issue. The Ehrlich Administration is absolutely committed to conserving the menhaden resource in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast,” said Governor Ehrlich.
Atlantic menhaden are filter-feeder fish that help maintain the water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. They are the primary food for striped bass. Recreational and commercial fishing communities are concerned that the continued depletion of menhaden will not leave any food for the striped bass they fish for, thus impacting that important fishery as well.
Menhaden are harvested for fishmeal and fish oil that are used in animal foods, pharmaceuticals, and in recent years have been approved for human food supplements such as Omega 3. The proposed cap is in response to concerns that the purse seine fishery out of Reedville, Va., is over harvesting the menhaden out that portion of the Chesapeake Bay.
“Maryland is proud to be a leader in the menhaden management process and we look forward to taking this important issue to our citizens,” said DNR Secretary C. Ronald Franks. “Public meetings on menhaden will begin in Maryland in June and I encourage anyone who is interested in the health of the Bay to attend one and let their voice be heard.”
The menhaden fishery is managed under a plan developed and adopted by the ASMFC, which represents all coastal states from Maine to Florida. Decisions on the fishery are made by a Menhaden Management Board comprised of all three commissioners from each member state, supported by a technical committee with membership drawn from member States’ technical staffs, and federal experts.
May 11, 2005
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 18,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov