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Fisheries Management Board Votes In Favor Of Menhaden Cap
Maryland makes winning motion, rationale
ALEXANDRIA – Yesterday, on a motion made by the State of Maryland, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Menhaden Management Board voted overwhelmingly to cap the purse seine harvest of menhaden by the reduction fishery in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay at the average annual harvest of the previous five years.
The cap will remain in effect for five years while Maryland and other coastal states implement a research program to examine the issue of potential local depletion of menhaden in Chesapeake Bay.
“Maryland has been a strong leader in the effort to protect and conserve the menhaden resource in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast,” said Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. “I would like to once again personally thank the fisheries stakeholders in the state for their advice and support on this critical issue.”
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.
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.
“Maryland has steadfastly led the initiative to adopt a reasonable limit to the menhaden taken from the Bay,” said Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary C. Ronald Franks. “We recognize the need to provide adequate menhaden as forage for expanded populations of prized recreational and commercial species of fish.”
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., may cause local depletion of menhaden in Chesapeake Bay.
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 three commissioners from each member state, supported by a technical committee with membership drawn from member States’ technical staffs, and federal experts.
August 18, 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