Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Call Your Representative for Menhaden

The Johns have it.  Representatives John Sarbanes (MD) and John Carney (DE) have just drafted a letter to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission asking for a reduction in the menhaden catch. 

The more representatives that sign onto it the better.  The deadline for signing on is tomorrow (Thursday, 12/13/12).

What can you do?  Please call your representative before noon tomorrow and encourage them to sign onto the letter.  Look up your representative's number here

I just did it for mine.  I also emailed my rep's office.  Read more about what to say at the Herring Alliance.

Here is a copy of the letter the reps will send: 

Mr. Robert E. Beal, Executive Director
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
1050 North Highland Street, Suite 200A-N
Arlington, VA 22201

Dear Executive Director Beal:

We are writing to request that the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) end overfishing immediately and rebuild the Atlantic menhaden fish population as soon as possible by establishing a coastwide science-based catch limit and a firm commitment to meeting the rebuilding goals in Amendment 2.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, our Atlantic states are working together effectively in disaster recovery efforts aimed at restoring coastal businesses and ecosystems. In the same cooperative spirit, the ASMFC should act decisively to address menhaden depletion by passing Amendment 2 with a conservation plan that will quickly and effectively rebuild this resource and secure the extensive economic and ecological benefits it provides to our region.

Atlantic menhaden support billions of dollars of recreational and commercial activity from Florida to Maine.  Menhaden are often referred to as “the most important fish in the sea” because they are a critical link in the marine food web and prey for a wide diversity of fish, birds and marine mammals, such as striped bass, bluefish, Atlantic tuna, whales and osprey.  Atlantic menhaden supports one industrial fishery and nearly all Atlantic recreational fisheries.  According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s 2009 Fisheries Economics of the United States, recreational anglers took over 43 million fishing trips along the Atlantic coast in 2009, contributing nearly $11 billion in sales to the U.S. economy, $3.7 billion in value added impacts, while supporting over 90,000 full and part-time jobs. Given the significance of Atlantic menhaden to our recreational and commercial fisheries, as well as our tourism industries, we must avoid additional risks to Atlantic menhaden and focus on rebuilding this economic engine.

Currently, Atlantic menhaden provide only a fraction of their potential benefits because the population has been significantly reduced to less than 10 percent of levels seen in the 1980s. The population is currently subject to overfishing, and has been at or above this threshold for 54 of the past 57 years.  Overfishing may continue without an overall limit on the number of menhaden that can be taken from the Atlantic Ocean.  Vast quantities of Atlantic menhaden are caught in federal waters, yet the ASMFC has not taken steps to end overfishing in the state waters over which it has jurisdiction, nor made a recommendation that the federal government implement necessary conservation and management measures in federal waters.  Specifically, the ASMFC must take decisive steps to end overfishing in accordance with scientific advice, like federally-managed fisheries which require catch limits to end and prevent overfishing.

We commend the ASMFC for responding to more than 90,000 constituent comments in November 2011 by adopting new science-based rebuilding goals in Addendum V and developing Amendment 2 to end overfishing and recover from a historically low level of abundance.  The Commission can now ensure that the amendment process it initiated last year with strong public support will result in real changes on the water and in our coastal economies.

The ASMFC’s menhaden decision on December 14th can make a significant and lasting contribution to the success of East Coast state and federal restoration efforts.  In Amendment 2, we urge the Commission to manage menhaden based on the best scientific information available, to adopt a coast-wide annual catch limit that can be implemented in 2013, to manage to the target fishing level in as short a time period as possible and to make a firm, time-certain commitment to reaching those target levels, and to reduce catch immediately to end overfishing and rebuild the Atlantic menhaden population. These proactive and common-sense steps will put menhaden on the road to recovery, safeguard a key component of Atlantic Ocean ecosystems, and help sustain and grow our vibrant coastal economies.  Thank you for considering our request.

No comments: