Alexandria, VA – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Menhaden Management Board approved a total allowable catch (TAC) for the 2015 and 2016 fishing seasons at 187,880 mt per year, a 10% increase from the 2014 TAC. The increase responds to the positive findings of the 2015 Atlantic menhaden benchmark assessment which indicates the resource is not overfished nor experiencing overfishing relative to the current biological reference points. The TAC will be made available to the states/jurisdictions based on the state-by-state allocation established by Amendment 2 (see accompanying table). The Board also committed to moving forward with the development of an amendment to establish ecological based reference points that reflect Atlantic menhaden’s role as a forage species. The amendment will also consider changes to the current state-by-state allocation scheme.
“The Board struck an important balance by increasing fishing opportunities to both the reduction and bait fisheries and committing to fully evaluating the ecological role of Atlantic menhaden through the amendment process,” stated Board Chair Robert Boyles from South Carolina.
The Board has established a working group to aid in the development of issues to be addressed in the Public Information Document (PID) and draft amendment. The Board will meet later this year to review the working group’s progress. The PID is the first step in the Commission’s amendment process. It will gather information concerning the Atlantic menhaden fishery and resource and provide an opportunity for the public to identify and comment on major issues relative to the management of this species. For more information, please contact Mike Waine, Senior Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.842.0740.