Better Management Eyed for Menhaden

by Laurie Schreiber

Setting at night on the northern edge, Grand Banks. The recent release of a National Marine Fisheries Service assessment of New England cod stocks has caused fishermen, congressmen and the most conservative environmentalists to question the assessment's data. While fishermen report seeing a lot of cod the assessment data will result in cod quota cuts to a ground fish industry already reeling from a new catch share program that has put many fishermen out of business. ©Photo by Sam Murfitt


At one time, a little fish called menhaden was so plentiful that schools of them would cover a square half-mile of ocean, providing a bounty for the predator fish that leapt among them.

Terry Gibson, a charterboat operator in Florida, recalled the scene from his childhood. Nowadays, he said, schools of menhaden might fill 20 or 30 square yards, if that.

“Kids now think that that’s a big school of menhaden. It’s not,” he said. “It’s a story that’s played out from Maine to Key West. They’re disappearing.”

Gibson was one of the speakers during a telephone conference earlier this month, regarding the management of the menhaden fishery. The conference was held in conjunction with the latest meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which subsequently approved new management measures aimed at boosting the abundance of menhaden and its spawning stock biomass.



Port Mayor Says Groundfish Dialogue Driven by Fear
by Laurie Schreiber

The mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts, Scott Lang, decried what he characterized as a climate of fear around the decision-making process for managing the Northeast groundfish fishery.

In speaking to the New England Fisheries Management Council at its mid-November meeting, Lang said he was alarmed by the message that fishermen seemed to be taking from discussions around the management of groundfishing.