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Menhaden Muddle Series

By Charlie Hutchinson

The Menhaden Muddle Series is a collection of writings by Charlie Hutchinson, member of the Dorchester County chapter of the MSSA. Charlie began writing a series of articles designed to gain attention and put an end to the devastation of the atlantic menhaden by the reduction fishery. Charlie has published many of these articles and several more in local and state papers. Charlie is MSSA's lead on the menhaden issue and the menhaden muddle series explains the MSSA's position as well as what needs to be done to restore and sustain a healthy menhaden fishery.


Menhaden Muddle #10

Menhaden Muddle #9 touched on the issue of abundance but did not attempt to describe its importance in menhaden regulation. The present methodology utilizes fecundity( the ability to produce eggs) as the basic criteria for determining whether the stock is "healthy". Fecundity deals with the theoretical capacity to reproduce. Reproductive capacity doesn't necessarily equate to reproductive success This has been demonstrated by declining reproduction to unacceptable levels for menhaden. There is an obvious relationship between the number of spawners and the likely number of eggs produced. The current method of judging whether or not there is sufficient replacement involves using fishing dependent data (due to a lack of natural mortality data) to determine whether or not there is sufficient reproduction to satisfy the demand as determined by directed removals, If the calculations say there is then the stock is not overfished.

What we are dealing with here could be described as an inventory problem. One starts with an opening stock level, deducts shipments(removals), adds back production (recruitment) and ends up with a new inventory level. Simplistically this is what we have and the calculated results are a shrinking inventory (abundance) from a continuing low level of production(recruitment). Setting aside the calculations for a moment, the answers suggest that shipments are exceeding production and no surprise the inventory continues to decline.

While the above is dramatically oversimplified it does provide a rational answer that fits the observed situation. The recruitment number is a calculated value utilizing an index to determine whether recruitment is increasing or decreasing. Some error is inherent but the same methodology and sampling plan has been in place for some time, so it is considered reliable. The removals however are another story. Landings from the bait and reduction industries are routinely reported and also are considered credible. What is missing is a credible number for natural mortality by predators, so that in our inventory analogy our removals are believed to be substantially understated. Again, the results seem to support the hypothesis.

Abundance is the key element. As it stands the available information suggests that we do not have enough menhaden to support predation and fishing mortality. The only thing important to predators is biomass. If we as a public feel that having forage to support our predators is most important, then we must opt to create a substantially greater biomass. This can only be achieved by meaningful decreases in removals. There probably are science based measures available to guide the decision making process. But the heart of the matter facing the Menhaden Management Board is to set a target for abundance which is reasonable, achievable and satisfies the need to rebuild a badly diminished resource.

Previous Menhaden Articles:

Menhaden Muddle #33
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE MENHADEN BOARD

Menhaden Muddle #32
WHAT'S UP WITH OMEGA PROTEIN?

Menhaden Muddle #31
MORE VIEWPOINTS ON MENHADEN ECONOMICS

Menhaden Muddle #30
THE OUTFALL FROM BEANTOWN

Menhaden Muddle #29
ANOTHER INCONVENIENT TRUTH

Menhaden Muddle #28

Menhaden ALERT

End Overfishing of Menhaden

Menhaden Muddle #27
NEXT MOVES ON MENHADEN

Menhaden Muddle #26
A CRITIQUE...

Menhaden Muddle #25
SOME MANAGEMENT MEASURES FOR CONSIDERATION

Menhaden Muddle #24
ASMFC'S Challenge

Menhaden Muddle #23
ASMFC'S Dilemma

Menhaden Muddle #22

Menhaden Muddle #21

Menhaden Muddle #20

Menhaden Muddle #19

Menhaden Muddle #18

Menhaden Muddle #17

Menhaden Muddle #16
What would Izaak do?

Menhaden Muddle #15

Menhaden Muddle #14

Menhaden Muddle #13
Menhaden Unmuddled?

Menhaden Muddle #12
What's next for Menhaden Management?

Menhaden Muddle #11

Menhaden Muddle #10

Menhaden Muddle #9

Menhaden Muddle #8

Menhaden Muddle #7

Menhaden Muddle #6

Menhaden Muddle #5

Menhaden Muddle #4

Menhaden Muddle #3

Menhaden Muddle #2

Menhaden Muddle #1


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