The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, meeting Friday in Baltimore, Md., approved a plan to limit the total allowable catch of menhaden to 170,800 metric tons beginning in 2013.
The limit, which will continue until the 2014 benchmark stock assessment has been completed, represents a 20 percent reduction from the average landings from 2009 to 2011 and a 25 percent reduction from just the 2011 landings, according to an ASMFC press release. The measure also reduces the harvest cap for the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery by 20 percent. This is an adjustment of the cap which was in place since 2006.
New biological reference points for biomass were adopted by the board as well, with the goal of increasing abundance, spawning stock biomass, and menhaden availability as a forage species.
"Given the stock is experiencing overfishing and is most likely overfished based on the newly adopted reference points, it was incumbent upon the board to reduce landings in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the resource and the fisheries that depend on it," said board chair Louis Daniel of North Carolina.
The catch will be allocated on a state-by-state basis based on landings history from 2009-2011, said the release. States will be required to close their fisheries when their total allowable catch has been reached and pay back any overages the following year.