The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Menhaden Management Board has reviewed the results of the 2017 assessment and concluded that the resource is healthy.
According to the Commission’s findings, the stock is not overfished or experiencing overfishing relative to current biological reference points. In 2016, population fecundity, a measure of reproductive capacity, is estimated to be 83,486 billion eggs which is well above the 57,295 billion egg threshold but below the 99,467 billion egg target.
Total fishing mortality is estimated to be 0.51, below both the fishing mortality threshold (1.85) and target (0.80). The stock assessment update uses the same modelling approach as the 2015 Atlantic Menhaden Benchmark Stock Assessment but added additional years of data from 2014-2016.
While the stock status was assessed in the same way as the 2015 benchmark report, the reference point values have changed. Adding additional years of data to the model resulted in generally higher fishing mortality values throughout the times series which changed the scale of the reference points. While the scale is different and the trend differs in some years, the stock status for both fishing mortality rate and fecundity has been similar over the past decade.
Atlantic menhaden is harvested by both commercial reduction and bait fisheries.
In 2013, Amendment 2 to the Fishery Management Plan implemented a TAC of 170,800 tonnes. The coastwide TAC was increased by 10% to 187,880 tonnes for the 2015-2016 fishing years and by another 6.45% to 200,000 tonnes for the 2017 fishing year. In 2016, reduction landings were 137,400 tonnes and accounted for approximately 76% of coastwide landings and bait landings were 43,100 tonnes and comprised 24% of coastwide landings.