ERPs for menhaden a chance to make history
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is currently accepting public comments on Draft Amendment 3 of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic menhaden. Comments can be offered in-person at public hearings and in written form. On Monday, Sept. 18, there is a public hearing scheduled at Anne Arundel Community College, thankfully not too far way, in which you and I can fight for the little guy.
Small, silvery, and packed with nutritional value, menhaden are filter feeders that consume plankton and in turn are food for striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, and other fish, as well as marine mammals and sea birds like gannets, ospreys, and loons. These boney, oily fish (also known as bunker or pogy) are a critical link in the marine food web. Menhaden convert the energy stored in algae and the tiny, shrimplike plankton that they eat into highenergy, high-protein food for many other species.
Speaking with Allison Colden, Maryland Fisheries scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, on Friday, she said, “Just like the Chesapeake Bay is the center for menhaden, it’s also the nursery for striped bass, so regardless of what happens coast-wide you’ve got to have a good population of bunker here to get the population of striped bass to respond.”
The Chesapeake has historically been the most important nursery area for Atlantic menhaden throughout its range from Maine to Florida. From spring through fall, schools of juveniles and adults graze plankton all over the Bay and its tidal rivers. Unfortunately, the number of young menhaden produced in the Chesapeake has been poor for the last 20 years. The low number of peanut bunker has been linked to an increase in chronic disease in our striped bass.
Amendment 3 strives to accomplish something that’s never been done in the U.S., manage a fish species based on ecological reference points. ERPs will account for Atlantic menhaden’s role as a forage fish.
This is an historic opportunity to improve the health of menhaden and the many species that depend on them for nourishment. Sound ecological management of menhaden, based on proven science, will enable the population to continue to grow as well as increase their value to commercial and recreational fishing and all the businesses that benefit from healthy marine resources.
Amendment 3 includes options for how the ecological reference points are implemented, how the menhaden catch is managed, and possible
Kent Island quarterback Trent Jackson looks for a receiver while Bennett defender Patrick Magda closes in during the first quarter of Saturday’s game in Salisbury. Though he was sacked on the play, Jackson threw a 76-yard touchdown pass two plays later, the first of four in a 47-13 win.