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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 #7

Hopefully this will be my final article concerning menhaden management. While Omega Protein has been much vilified in the media, the real villains are the commissioners of the ASMFC. They allow the practices to continue which decimate the menhaden population and indirectly screw up other species as well. Omega simply does what they are permitted to do and make a living off of our resources. The ASMFC is supposed to be acting in the public interest and protecting our resources. They have been unwilling to do so hiding behind a science which is not up to the task of providing the data required for a decision process based on science.

What to do about this? MSSA has had enough of this wait and see game that has gone on for the last decade. We will again require action to set more realistic standards by which to judge stock abundance in relation to demand by both directed and non directed fisheries. Providing these more sophisticated and accurate measurement criteria may take quite some time, so it would be appropriate to manage the catch to halt the rapid decline while this is being accomplished. In order to bring about the desired action, the proposed changes in management methodology will require support on a coastwise basis. While the legislature in Virginia is not supportive of change, the people of Virginia are and are increasing their efforts to see that menhaden are actually managed as opposed to control by Omega.

How to bring about the change? The Menhaden Management Board needs to receive letters, thousands of them, calling for favorable consideration of new management methods. Numbers here count! If no effort is made to saturate the ASMFC with a clear message we can expect the same old same old. Writing to the commissioners from your state is likely to be more effective. By the way, email is not the most effective method of communication. We hear that the delete button is too convenient and the message has been deleted from the recipients brain, even if it was read before deletion. Similarly the governors of each state should be addressed in writing asking them to consult with the commissioners and request their commitment to action. Additionally the Secretary of Natural Resources should receive a letter asking support for decisive action In short we need to contact every person in the chain of command with responsibility for management of fisheries in a very personal way to get their attention. The message is to require them to respond to public demand in a positive measurable fashion at the May 4 ASMFC meeting.

As individuals all we can do is to express ourselves clearly and forcefully as to how we want our resources managed For the first time in many years the technical data show that the stock has declined to historic low levels ,the breeding stock is overfished and recruitment continues to be unacceptable. There are clear signs that dependant predators are undernourished and that forage needed for other species is being detoured into other products at an unsustainable rate. Fishery management historically has been one of do nothing until the stock crashes and then regulations take the form of severe restrictions or moratoriums to bring back stocks. That can work to a degree with single species but not for forage species. We cannot afford to allow that to happen with menhaden. If we stand by and let inaction to bring about a complete fiasco, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Previous Menhaden Articles:

Menhaden Muddle #33

Menhaden Muddle #32

Menhaden Muddle #31

Menhaden Muddle #30

Menhaden Muddle #29

Menhaden Muddle #28

Menhaden ALERT

End Overfishing of Menhaden

Menhaden Muddle #27

Menhaden Muddle #26

Menhaden Muddle #25

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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