On April 2, the Sun Herald published an op-ed from the spokesman of the Coastal Conservation Association -- Mississippi, F.J. Eicke ("A most important fish raises need for public scrutiny"), that was filled with more holes than a fisherman's net. Sadly, time and time again, Mr. Eicke has demonstrated dismissiveness toward sustainable fisheries and the hardworking men and women of Mississippi's commercial fishing industry.
A major contention offered by Mr. Eicke is that Mississippi's resident menhaden stock is troubled. This statement is 100 percent incorrect and is little more than a scare tactic. There is no such thing as "Mississippi menhaden." Due to their very nature -- their biology and habitat -- menhaden are a Coastwide migratory species, which is why menhaden stock assessments are conducted on a Coastwide basis.
As such, Mr. Eicke's claim that the public "has no basis for assessing the catch in Mississippi waters" is nonsensical. Menhaden cross state borders routinely as they move around the Gulf. To assess the amount of menhaden in Mississippi waters at any given time is pointless, since, due to migratory patterns, the stock size would be completely different in subsequent days, weeks or months.
Contrary to Mr. Eicke's claim that menhaden regulations are "minimal," existing management has been successful in maintaining a sustainable fishery. According to the most recent, peer-reviewed Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission stock assessment, the menhaden stock is healthy: It is neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing. The same results have been consistent going back 20 years.