Absence of data comes back to haunt Fisheries
Late last year the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Green Peace and other organizations were pressing the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC) to slash the permitted catch of Atlantic menhaden.
Virginia’s members of the commission and the commission’s own technical advisers said that there was no scientific basis for thinking the fishery was in trouble. The commission didn’t listen and at a December meeting cut the allowable catch by 20 percent.
At the time Omega Protein, located in Reedville and the only “reduction fishery” of menhaden, indicated it could stand the cut but were it any deeper it could cause real difficulties.
Now, the absence of data has come back to haunt the commission.
Last week, as reported by industry news services, New York’s director of marine resources, Jim Gilmore, said that there was no evidence to support reducing that state’s bait fishery for menhaden by 20 percent.
Gilmore, who voted for the reduction as a member of the ASMFC, said, “We’re not going to start managing a fishery on data we know is wrong” and indicated that New York’s bait fishermen would not be held to the ASMFC’s limits.
The limits adopted last December were to remain in place until a stock assessment could be completed in 2014.
The matter was expected to come up at a meeting of the commission being held on St. Simon’s Island, Ga., Monday.