Tag Archives: Menhaden

Chesapeake Bay’s menhaden catch cut drastically, along with Omega Protein quota

Virginia is cutting this year’s Chesapeake Bay menhaden catch by more than 80% from last year’s landings in order to end a federal moratorium.
Federal fisheries officials said they’d bar fishing for menhaden in the Bay this year — as long as the fish were headed for Omega Protein’s fish oil and fishmeal plant in Reedville — because the state had not enacted a 41.5% cut to 51,000 tons in Omega’s quota, which had been imposed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in 2017. But the Atlantic States commission has not found that menhaden were overfished. “To be perfectly clear, there is no conservation basis for the Chesapeake Bay cap. No scientific methodology was used in setting the Chesapeake Bay cap by the ASMFC, ,,, >click to read< 15:35

Maine will create a commercial menhaden fishing license in 2021, won’t close growing bait fishery as previously planned.

Stories of those who had hoped to jump into menhaden fishing, and pleas from lobstermen in search of affordable bait, persuaded state lawmakers to keep the menhaden fishery open while the state works out details of its proposed licensing system.,, A legislative committee voted in favor of the Department of Marine Resources’ menhaden licensing bill, but only after deleting a section of the bill that would have set a “control date” for the menhaden fishery. A control date is a cutoff date that can be used to decide who is eligible to fish. >click to read< 11:08

Menhaden regulations have plagued lawmakers for decades.

Every year, the drama has followed the same lines. Some lawmakers and environmentalists concerned about the health of the valuable fishery, the only one managed by the legislature rather than regulators, push to transfer its management to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. The industry and its unionized fishermen, concerned that regulators will cramp their business, push back. It’s been perhaps the state’s dullest political tug-of-war. But then, this winter, it ended when Omega Protein, the Reedville-based Canadian company that is the largest single player in the U.S. menhaden industry, told a Senate panel that it supported legislation to hand over fishery management to the VMRC. >click to read< 07:39

Science Center for Marine Fisheries Releases Evaluation and Summary of Latest Atlantic Menhaden Assessments

Dr. Steve Cadrin, Professor at the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and past President of the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists, has completed an evaluation and summary of the latest Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) Atlantic menhaden stock assessments. >click to read< 15:58

Maine DMR wants to close the pogy fishery to newcomers for 2 years while it crafts a new FMP/Enforcement plan.

“Closing fisheries is kind of a radical step and a dangerous step because it eliminates diversity,” said Commissioner Pat Keliher. “We’re not saying close it in perpetuity. Close it to see if there is a different approach here that would allow us to get both enforcement and reporting back under control.” Keliher said the 2019 menhaden season was challenging because of “a perfect storm of circumstances.” A sharp reduction in the herring quota spurred huge growth in the menhaden fleet, with 50 new boats rushing to satisfy the $485 million lobster industry’s need for substitute bait. >click to read< 07:23

EDITORIAL: Menhaden harvest limit actually means something

Last week, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the partnership, or “interstate compact,” that sets harvest limits for 27 fisheries up and down the Atlantic Coast, officially accused Virginia of allowing Omega Protein to overfish,,, In a December 2017 press release on the deal, Cooke hinted at a new use: “The animal feed ingredients produced by Omega Protein are an important component in Cooke Aquaculture’s production of healthy Atlantic salmon, making this acquisition a strategic move that greatly enhances Cooke’s vertical integration.” So instead of rockfish, maybe the Bay’s menhaden will be feeding farm-raised salmon in Canada. >click to read< 09:15

The One that Didn’t Get Away: The Atlantic’s Largest Menhaden Fishing Fleet Faces Penalties

At a meeting this week in New Hampshire, commissioners from Florida to Maine voted unanimously to find Virginia out of compliance. Eric Reid is a commercial fisherman who represented Rhode Island at this week’s meeting. “I got boats sitting at the dock too. And when the fed said fishing is over, we stayed tied to the dock. We didn’t write a letter saying ‘hey I’ve got 150 employees as well and we need to make money and we’re going.’ We stopped,” Reid noted. “It kinda rubs my nose in it a little bit. I don’t care for it.” >click to read< 08:50

The Battle Over Menhaden Harvesting in the Bay

“The menhaden issue is a very complex issue the commission is currently facing,” says Toni Kerns, ASMFC’s director of Interstate Fisheries Management Program and Policy Development. The ASMFC is a group that, under federal law, manages and oversees coastal fisheries including the menhaden species. Essentially, the ASMFC has regulatory authority. Video, >click to read< 08:30

A trip with the lone company chasing menhaden in a 140-year tradition on the Chesapeake Bay

It’s an industry that once made the village of Reedville one of the most prosperous in the state — big, brightly-painted three-story Victorian mansions, bedecked with gingerbread woodwork under their generous shade trees line Main Street in testimony to those long gone days. These days, menhaden are at the center of an obscure, if fiercely fought, political battle over who should catch them where, and whether the Omega Proteins fleet that still sails from Reedville is harvesting too many from the Bay. Among the reasons for that concern: Menhaden are an important food source for striped bass. Photo’s >click to read< 07:54

‘Do I need life insurance?’ A morning as a Peconic fisherman

Rain is the forecast as Tom Gariepy arrives at the Peconic River just before 5 a.m. for one of the last bunker hauls of the season. He backs his trailered sharpie bait boat into the still, 68-degree water, parks his pickup on the road and waits for veteran fishermen Lenny Nilson and Kenny Anderson before the three push off in two boats for the waters around Indian Island, in Riverhead. On the way out, Gariepy sees a giant school of bunker just beyond the launch point, but Nilson has a feeling about the waters to the north and east. >click to read<14:17

Sores, lesions: Early fish kill in Neuse worries those who use the river

State environmental crews are investigating a disturbing fish kill in the Neuse River. They’re trying to figure out why numerous schools of menhaden are breaking out in sores and dying in the river near New Bern.,,, The images are grotesque. Fish in the Neuse River swimming around with their insides hanging out.,, In a nutshell, the river is in very poor health and declining and continuing to decline,” said JoAnn Burkholder,,, Hans Paerl, said he believes pollution stirred up by Hurricane Florence could be the culprit now. And Paerl warns that water quality could deteriorate all summer if the weather is hot and dry. Scientists blame nutrient pollution from urban runoff, large industrial farms and waste water treatment plants. >click to read<11:25

Our view: Abundant menhaden draw whales and endless dispute over its fishery

A sustainable and growing menhaden fishery, though, isn’t enough for some. Since at least 1888, when the Rod and Reel Association claimed commercial menhaden boats were taking fish better left as food for species they liked to catch and eat, people have fought over the best use for menhaden. In the fall of 2017, a coalition of environmental and sport fishing interests, partly led by a unit of the Pew Charitable Trusts, successfully lobbied the fisheries commission to switch to a unique new management approach for a fishery, one based on estimates of how the menhaden population affects other fish and wildlife that prey upon it. >click to read<10:42

Virginia escapes sanction — for now — that could shut down menhaden fishing

A threat to shut down Virginia’s menhaden fishery disappeared after an interstate commission decided it wouldn’t find the state out of a compliance with a new quota for the oily fish. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission cut the quota for menhaden caught in Chesapeake Bay by purse-seine vessels by 42 percent back in 2017 — but the General Assembly balked this year and last at enacting that lower quota into state law. This month, the commission indefinitely postponed taking any action to find Virginia out of compliance, a finding that could trigger a federal moratorium on the fishery. >click to read<10:51

Notorious Menhaden Slayer Reb Raymer Released from Prison

Following two years of incarceration for perpetrating a series of fish kills on the East End, prolific mehaden killer Reb Raymer is back on the streets this week. The Hampton Bays resident, who holds a longstanding grudge against the baitfish, also known as bunker, is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of menhaden between June 2015 and November 2016 when he was finally arrested for his crimes. Raymer was convicted of ecoterrorism and cruelty to animals in Hamptons Superior Court early last year,,, >click to read<07:28

New York’s Whales Love Bunker. So Do Fishing Boats. Conflict Ensues.

It has been a bountiful summer for bunker in the waters off New York, and for local whale spotters. Bunker, a favorite food of many larger predators, including whales, are enjoying another year in a decade-long recovery.,,, On Aug. 30, a boat from Omega Protein lowered a net nearly six city blocks long into the water, about 25 miles southeast of the Rockaways, and pulled up about 800,000 pounds of bunker, also known as menhaden. On Sept. 6, Omega returned to the vicinity and hauled out nearly 2 million pounds more. Tom Paladino, a former charter fishing boat captain who started running whale watches from the American Princess in 2010 as local whale sightings began to grow, did not mince words. “We have a major issue with a fishing fleet coming in and taking all the food from the whales,” he told his passengers. Omega says it is doing nothing of the sort and is removing only a tiny fraction of the local menhaden that its spotter pilots have estimated to be in the tens of millions. “The best science shows that this is a completely sustainable fishery and the whale diet is not being impacted at all,” said an Omega spokesman, Ben Landry. > click to read<11:51

New York Activists Make False Accusations Against Menhaden Fishermen

Gotham Whale of Staten Island, New York and Menhaden Defenders posted material on Facebook suggesting that legal, regulated fishing of menhaden in federal waters off New York and New Jersey would leave marine mammals such as humpback whales and dolphins with nothing to eat, resulting in the whales moving to other waters. The two posts specifically cited normal fishing activity by Omega Protein Corporation vessels. A blog post by a photographer, linked to by Gotham Whale, falsely accused the fishermen of marine mammal interactions. >click to read<12:58

A Political Fish Tale That Could Bait Trump

A fish story isn’t one without a bit of exaggeration. Consider menhaden: A bony, little fish used for bait and to make fertilizer, animal feed, dietary supplements and lipstick, it is vital to marine ecology as a bottom-of-the-food-chain staple for other creatures, finned and winged, and as an oceanic janitor, scrubbing waters clean of algae. And menhaden is the protagonist in an economic and political tale that could lead to a confrontation between President Trump and the state that denied him a sweep of the South in 2016: Virginia.,,, And this fish story includes a little-noticed and rare breach between Gov. Ralph Northam and his predecessor, fellow Democrat Terry McAuliffe,,, Racing to the exits, McAuliffe, whose political action committee received $15,000 from Omega in 2017, initiated an appeal to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to forgo the new restriction. >click to read<12:24

2018 Mass. DMF fishing regulations go into effect April 20

The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has enacted new regulations, which were informed in part by this winter’s public hearings. The regulations were reviewed and approved by the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission at its March 15 meeting, and go into effect on April 20. The most substantive change is an adjustment to the open commercial fishing days for black sea bass. The new open commercial fishing days are Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.,, The commercial black sea bass season will begin on Tuesday, July 10.,, During the inshore small-mesh trawl squid fishery, April 23–June 9, trawlers will be allowed to retain a 50-pound bycatch limit of black sea bass. >click to read<18:00

House kills fish bill: Does Virginia risk falling out of compliance with menhaden catch limits?

The House of Delegates on Tuesday killed a bill, opposed by an influential Northern Neck commercial fishing operation, that would have brought Virginia into compliance with new menhaden catch limits adopted last fall by a consortium of Atlantic states. Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, made a motion to send his House Bill 1610, which had been sent down by Gov. Ralph Northam last month, back to committee, effectively spiking it for the year. In an interview, Knight said he did so in hopes that Northam’s administration and Omega Protein,,>click to read<20:42

Virginia: Heavily lobbied menhaden bill finally emerges

After weeks of intensive, behind-closed-doors lobbying, the Chesapeake Bay’s oily, inedible menhaden fish finally landed on the General Assembly’s plate. After more than 90 minutes of debate, the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee decided by an 11-10 vote that the best answer was: sort of. Earlier in the session, it let die a measure that would enact the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s purse seine quota cut, to 51,000 metric tons, into state law. On Wednesday, it approved a measure, introduced by special permission a month after the usual deadline, that would strike the current quota of 87,216 tons from state law and empower the head of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to set a new purse seine quota of not less than 51,000 tons once the state had made its case to the commission that the quota cut was too steep. >click to read< 15:14

Ocean State goes to bat for menhaden

Menhaden aren’t the most popular fish in the Atlantic Ocean, but an increase in their catch limit could make the Narragansett Bay population more attractive to commercial fishermen. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has ruled at least 0.5 percent of the quota of menhaden should be allocated to each state. That increased the limit in Rhode Island waters from 0.2 percent. The board also ruled to increase the amount of fish that could be caught in American waters annually by 8 percent, from 200,000 metric tons to 218,000 metric tons. Finally, it deferred a decision on implementing a new management standard for the species. click here to read the story 08:21

Opinion: Menhaden decision sticks to science-based fisheries management

This month, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission updated its menhaden management plan, taking into account the increasing menhaden stock. The commission was heavily lobbied by the fishing industry and by a coalition of environmentalists and sport-fishing interests led by a unit of the Pew Charitable Trusts. The Menhaden Fisheries Coalition wanted to increase its allowable catch by about 40 percent, to 280,000 metric tons per season. The environmental coalition wanted to leave more fish in the ocean, which the MFC figured would cut the industry’s catch by about a quarter, to 147,000 tons. click here to read the story 08:12

Environmentalists Are Wrong About Menhaden Fishery

Fishing companies are at odds with Rhode Island environmental advocacy groups over proposed changes for the menhaden fishing industry, Changes to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden are up for a vote at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Maryland this Monday and Tuesday. Meghan Lapp, fishery liaison for the Rhode Island-based Seafreeze Ltd, said that temporary plan shouldn’t be implemented because it’s based off of science that isn’t applicable to menhaden. click here to read the story 12:19

Decision coming Monday on Menhaden management

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will decide on a new management plan for Atlantic menhaden at a meeting near Baltimore on Monday. Fishermen and environmentalists have a lot riding on how much of the resource is set aside for fishing, and how much is left for wildlife predators. Known as Amendment 3, the new rule will set the future course for managing the forage fish species eaten by many other fish, birds like osprey, dolphins and whales. click here to read the story Atlantic Menhaden Management Board – The Board will meet to consider approval of Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden. click here to read 3 sets of meeting materials 10:35

Omega Protein Employees and Supporters Call for Fisheries Managers To Protect Menhaden Jobs

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. 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. click here to read the story 20:29

Menhaden battle once again pits Virginia against Northern states

Five years ago, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission cut the menhaden harvest by 20 percent, forcing the largest employer in the rural tip of the Northern Neck, Omega Protein, to lay off workers and decommission a ship.,, Since then, ASMFC, which manages fisheries from Maine to Florida, changed its method of assessment and says stocks are now healthy. It began easing catch limits to where the quota is now only about 6 percent short of the 212,000 metric tons it once was. Omega, which catches a half-billion fish each year, replaced two of its seven ships this year with larger, more efficient ships and rehired some of its employees. But the company sees a new problem. click here to read the story 11:27

Why Omega Protein has stirred up a big stink about a small fish

The disagreement between activists and Omega Protein depends on the answer to a simple question: Are there enough menhaden in the Gulf of Mexico? Omega says there are plenty, and it wants to keep it that way. Members of the Sierra Club Gulf Coast Group, the Coastal Conservation Association and other groups have their doubts.  It’s an argument recreational fishermen and conservationists have been having with Omega for years. Omega has a menhanden reduction plant in Moss Point and regularly fishes the Mississippi Sound. The opposition to its activities began anew with vigor earlier this year when Omega began seeking a “certified sustainable seafood” designation from the Marine Stewardship Council. MSC is a London-based nonprofit (although it collects royalties from licensing its “ecolabel”) that was set up in 1997 by the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever, a global conglomerate that was at the time one of the world’s largest producers of frozen seafood. click here to read the story 10:28

My Turn: Ben Landry: Have honest discussion on fishing

In his July 7 column (“Opinions on changes toquota are divided”), Capt. Dave Monti makes multiple inaccurate claims about the biology and management of menhaden — claims that someone who advises menhaden regulators at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission should know do not conform to the latest menhaden science. Mr. Monti mischaracterizes the health of the Atlantic menhaden stock when he says it is “on the rebound, due to the first-ever catch quota put into place in 2012.” As an ASMFC advisor, Mr. Monti should know that the 2012 catch quota was based on a stock assessment, later determined to be faulty, that showed menhaden was being overfished. That later-disproven science led the commission to unnecessarily slash menhaden catch rates by 20 percent, hurting those who make their living in the fishery. click here to read the rest, it gets better! 19:24

Chesapeake Bay fishery to keep deteriorating unless nutrients from land are addressed

The March Bay Journal 2017 commentary, Don’t let menhaden become a case of could have, should have, would have, laments the decline in Bay menhaden populations and blames the reduced number of predatory “sport” fish on Omega Protein’s harvest (click here). The Atlantic States Marine fisheries Commission is quite clear this year that “Atlantic menhaden are neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing” (click here). In Maryland, juvenile menhaden are sampled annually through the Estuarine Juvenile Finfish Survey. The index of juvenile menhaden has been low since 1992, and “environmental conditions seem to be a major factor driving recruitment.” (click here). Something other than overfishing must contribute to, or even be responsible for, reduced Bay menhaden populations. I contend that the primary cause of depleted finfish stocks, including bottom-feeding fish like croaker that do not eat menhaden, and the menhaden themselves, is poor water quality, not overfishing. click here to read the story  12:17

The Bunker Resurgence: The Good News Beyond Recent Fish Kills

According to Megan Ware, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in Arlington, Virginia, “Results of the 2015 stock assessment indicate that the [menhaden] stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring.”Joe Warren, an associate professor with the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, agrees. Professor Warren’s lab uses acoustics to estimate the biomass (weight) of menhaden in the Peconic River and Flanders Bay. That’s essentially the same technology recreational fishermen employ using fishfinders.,,, Warren further observed that each of the surveys encountered anywhere from five to 25 schools that could range from hundreds to tens of thousands of fish. The professor cited anecdotal evidence that there are more bunker in New York waters as humpback whales off the Atlantic coast on the south side of Long Island have been observed feeding on bunker during the past several years. click here to read the story 15:37