The following letter is being submitted on behalf of Robert Vanasse, the Executive Director of the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition (http://menhadencoalition.org/). Based in Washington, D.C., the Coalition is a collective of menhaden fishermen, related businesses, and supporting industries, and comprise over 30 businesses along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Contact information for verification purposes is included below.
Your recent story on Atlantic Menhaden (Menhaden: still struggling under weight of corruption, January 17, 2016) incorrectly states that menhaden are overfished and that the stock is at unsustainably low levels. The figures cited are based on old stock assessments that have been widely recognized as flawed and inaccurate. The￼ Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the interstate agency that manages menhaden stock assessments, acknowledged these flaws, with the Commission’s Menhaden Technical Committee stating in 2012 that they undermine “confidence in the assessment results to provide management advice.”
In 2015, the ASMFC produced a new assessment, the most comprehensive study of the menhaden stock to date. The Commission completely revised the assessment’s methods and models to address the inaccuracies that had plagued previous reports. As a result, the 2015 assessment measures the menhaden population more accurately than ever before; it found that menhaden were not overfished, nor were they experiencing overfishing
The results of the 2015 assessment point to a downward trend in menhaden landings, and highlight the fact that menhaden fishing mortality is at an historic low. It found that the menhaden population that had been regularly underestimated by prior assessments is much healthier than both previous assessments have indicated and what your article claims. Menhaden is an abundant resource according to the latest assessments, and the data presented in the article is misleading and out of date.
Menhaden Fisheries Coalition