Assessment: Atlantic menhaden is not overfished

Earlier today, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) released the 2014 Atlantic Menhaden Stock Assessment, the first assessment since the highly contentious 2012 stock assessment. The Menhaden Fisheries Coalition is pleased that the 2014 assessment process evaluated and addressed the issues in the previous assessment. The results determined that the Atlantic menhaden stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring. The 2014 assessment also corrects problems in the 2012 assessment report and invalidates that assessment’s methods and results, replacing them with more accurate models and data sources and setting a new standard in menhaden stock analyses.

Harvest cuts enacted in 2012 yielded economic hardship and job losses in many fishing communities, and proponents for these cuts have already cited this new assessment as justification for their agendas. But only one year affected by these cuts, 2013, factors into the date range used in this overhauled assessment. This new stock assessment is not a before-and-after comparison of conditions from 2012 before the harvest cuts to conditions in 2013 following their enactment. The 2014 Atlantic Menhaden Stock Assessment Report is a reevaluation of the species’ status dating all the way back to the beginning of its recorded history in the 1950s. The report finds that the stock’s healthy status appears largely unrelated to harvest cuts.

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