Omega Protein employees and supporters urge Atlantic fisheries commission to protect menhaden jobs

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08 Nov 2017 --- 457 Omega Protein employees and supporters have signed a petition urging the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to protect the jobs created by the Atlantic menhaden fishery.

The petition, part of the public comment process for Amendment 3 to the Atlantic Menhaden Interstate Fishery Management Plan, provides the Commission with the perspectives of those whose livelihoods would be most affected by any new restrictions on the menhaden fishery, and contrasts the outside pressure generated by international environmental groups and individuals who do not live in one of the 15 Atlantic coastal states.

Amendment 3 will determine how the ASMFC implements ecological reference points, which Commissioners will use to help manage menhaden in a way that accounts for its role as forage for predators. It will also set a coastwide quota for next year, and determine how that quota is allocated among the states.

The Omega Protein petition, addressed to the ASMFC’s Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Management Plan Coordinator Megan Ware, calls for the ASMFC to continue its current menhaden management approach until its scientific advisers finish their ongoing work developing menhaden-specific ecological reference points. Some environmental groups are advocating for interim reference points that reduce catch levels by up to 80 percent.

Petition signers are also asking the ASMFC to increase the coastwide menhaden quota to levels “consistent with stock status and scientific advice.” The ASMFC has found in its last two stock assessments in 2015 and 2017 that Atlantic menhaden is neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing, and the Commission’s Technical Committee recently found that the quota could be raised by up to 40 percent with no chance of overfishing.

Finally, the petition requests that Commissioners determine short- and long-term menhaden catch levels before determining allocations to “ensure a fair and transparent management process.”

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