Increase in Total Allowable Catch is first since 2017
LONG BRANCH, N.J. – November 9, 2022 – Today, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) unanimously voted to raise the coastwide quota for Atlantic menhaden to 233,550 metric tons, an increase of 20 percent. Omega Protein supports the Commission’s decision, which is backed by the most recent and best available menhaden science. This decision also continued the ASMFC’s pattern of conservatively managing the Atlantic menhaden resource by providing a large buffer to ensure the target harvest rate is not exceeded.
Despite the frequent demands from recreational fishing and environmental groups for a quota reduction or moratoriums, the ASMFC’s decision accurately reflects the fact that the Atlantic menhaden population is healthy, and that the menhaden fishery is being managed sustainably.
The most recent menhaden stock assessment, released only three months ago, confirmed that the stock continues to not be overfished, and that overfishing is not occurring. This is consistent with previous ASMFC assessments that found that menhaden are not overfished. The Atlantic menhaden fishery is also certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
The menhaden resource is the first on the East Coast to be managed using ecological reference points, which take into account the needs of the environment and predator
species. The reference points, which were heavily advocated for by the same groups that have traditionally pushed for quota cuts, are part of a move towards ecosystem-based management of menhaden. A quota increase is fully compatible with these reference points and this new management approach.
“This increase in the menhaden quota is clearly supported by all of the available science on menhaden,” said Ben Landry, Director of Public Affairs for Omega Protein. “The
Commission made the right decision to support the future of the fishery and sent a strong signal that the ASMFC is going to follow the best available science.”
However, Omega Protein is disappointed by the Commission’s decision to not take into account any landings history prior to the 2018 fishing season in setting its quota. The
commercial menhaden fishery first began in Virginia in 1878 and is economically essential to Virginia’s Northern Neck. Omega Protein has always believed that expanding the
menhaden fishery in other states should not come at the expense of existing fisheries.
We will continue to work collaboratively with the ASMFC to ensure the Atlantic menhaden population remains healthy and also to support the hard-working, blue-collar
fishermen that depend on the fishery.