Written by Jen Finn
There was a big fight over a little fish Friday when the board that regulates Atlantic coast fishing reached a historic vote to reduce the catch of menhaden, widely called the most important fish in the sea.
Fearing that the oily menhaden is being overfished to near collapse by an industry that sells it worldwide for oil, animal feed and sport fishing bait, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to limit the total that can be harvested in a year to 170,800 metric tons, a 20 percent reduction in the average catch over the past three years.
Hundreds of fishermen, members of environmental groups, environmental activists and sport fishing enthusiasts crowded a hotel ballroom in Baltimore to witness the first-ever catch limit set for menhaden. In a half-century of overfishing, the stock has shown a dramatic decline — from 90 billion fish that were 1 year old or younger 50 years ago, to 18 billion that same age in 2010, according to the commission.
The 13 to 3 vote to rebuild the population was cheered by environmental groups and activists who dubbed menhaden the most important fish because it is a staple diet for large predator fish such as whales and porpoises, and large birds such as eagles and osprey.
But Virginia state marine officials and fishermen said it would devastate a fishing economy valued at $40 million, leading to job cuts at the state's menhaden processing plants in Reedville and down a long supply chain.
Read the full story at the Washington Post>>
NOAA recently published a proposed rule that would implement a traceability plan to help combat IUU fishing. The program would seek to trace the origins of imported seafood by setting up reporting and filing procedures for products entering the U.S.
The traceability program would collect data on harvest, landing, and chain of custody of fish and fish products that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and fraud.Read more...
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...