ASMFC Approves Amendment 3

ASMFC Approves Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery
Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden
Atlantic Menhaden Board Sets TAC at 216,000 MT for 2018 and 2019

Here is the link to the official press release from the ASMFC:

Many of us expected this but had wished for an interim conservation measure to have been adopted instead of continuing to harvest menhaden as a single species.

There was amazing support for ecological based reference points. In fact, 160,000 public comments were submitted! Thank you to all Stripers Forever members who spoke up. Because of this public pressure ASMFC has come much closer to committing to accept their own eco based management study that is “due out” in time for the Commission to reconsider in two years. However, according to one of their own scientists the completion of this study is only a “cautiously optimistic” probability….. red herring alert!

This seems to be a warning that the decision of whether or not to implement ecosystem based management as opposed to continuing single species management is still a very long way down the road, if ever. Everyone knows that there can never be enough science to make any marine management report or decision bullet proof. Therefore, I see the ASMFC still tap dancing on quicksand , using delaying tactics in order to prolong and retain the status quo of single species management and continuing to do so for as long as possible.

To redesign all marine fisheries management modalities from single species management to eco based management parameters will open a huge can of worms which partially explains their choice to wait for more information. However, we also know that the enemy of good is perfect. If their argument in defense of retaining single species management is that they do not have sufficient scientific data to make changes then the obvious counter claim should be that there is also insufficient data to support single species management as well. In fact, with few exceptions, the data clearly proves that this approach continues to be harmful and damaging to what is an on-going degradation of marine species.

In spite of or maybe because of the actions of the ASMFC maybe there is room for optimism. The fact that 160,000 folks made an effort to change to status quo in favor of a more conservative approach to management decisions lends hope to their being a public awakening and acceptance of responsibility. Folks generally get what they deserve. Rewards are proportionally relative to the amount of invested effort made.

This recent exercise may well prove to be the impetus or rallying cry for greater public input and influence over the management of property that belongs to all of us equally. The common ground that 160,000 folks shared was support for the conservation of our marine environment. That in and of itself is good news.

-Dean Clark (MA Co-Chair, National Board Member)

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