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Congressman Floats Menhaden Ban
Maryland Congressman Wayne T. Gilchrest has introduced a bill (HR 3841) that would ban the harvest of menhaden in both state and federal waters until studies are completed to determine the health of the stock and to better understand the role it plays in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.
“For many years, I have been extremely concerned about continued harvest of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay and nearby coastal waters and its impact on the health of the Bay,” Gilchrest said. “Healthy prey species, like menhaden, are also critical to the long-term stability of saltwater sportfishing.”
He said low rates of reproduction in the Atlantic menhaden population and the lack of scientific understanding about this problem prompted this action to prevent further growth of the fishery in the absence of sufficient scientific data.
Most Atlantic states have banned large-scale “reduction” fisheries for menhaden, in which fish are caught using large seine nets to be ground into fish oil or animal food. Virginia has not banned the practice, and one company, Texas-based Omega Protein, takes millions of pounds of menhaden out of the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay each year. In recent years, recreational fishermen working with environmental groups have complained that such efforts are starving the bay’s striped bass populations.
Stock assessments by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission indicate that the overall menhaden stock is healthy. However, last year the ASMFC voted to cap menhaden harvests in Chesapeake Bay for five years while studies are conducted to determine whether the fish suffer from “regional depletion.”
Gilchrest said that the limit does not go far enough, and that a moratorium should be in place until scientific studies are completed.
Virginia’s representative on the ASMFC menhaden board disagrees. “There’s no evidence to suggest that it needs to be banned. In fact, there’s no evidence at this point that localized depletion is even occurring,” said Jack Travelstead, deputy commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
In a comment to the Bay Journal, Omega spokesman Toby Gascon called the bill unnecessary, saying that it lacked any scientific basis.
“Congressman Gilchrest’s bill to place a moratorium on the commercial fishing of Atlantic menhaden is a cavalier piece of legislation, given the precarious precedent it would set, the overwhelming contrary scientific data on the health and sustainability of the species, and the disastrous effect that would be felt by thousands of families,” said Gascon. “We feel it is pandering, not sensible public policy.”

http://www.onthewater.com/regwatch.htm
 

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I have always supported the idea but there will be a helluva fight put up by the reduction industry. I have always thought that in this day and age there has to be a more viable solution for what the harvested bunker is used for. You hear that it used for fertilizer, cosmetics, WD-40, even omega proteins. There is not a more reasonale solution out there for some of these applications? I think there are more than enough bunker around right now, but if it aint for food or bait it shouldnt be killed. Find another way and stop using our natural resources as a cheap solution.

RyanF
 
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