By Karl Blankenship & Timothy B. Wheeler, Bay Journal News Service
An updated menhaden population assessment that takes into account the ecological role of the species as a popular food for other fish deems the coastwide stock to be in good shape.
The latest assessment, presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Aug. 3, incorporates data collected through last year. It concluded that “overfishing is not occurring, and the stock is not considered overfished.”
Menhaden are a small fish but have long stoked big controversies, especially in the Chesapeake Bay, where conservation groups contend commercial harvests leave too few of the “forage” fish in the water to support striped bass and other fish.
That concern spurred the ASMFC, an organization made up of fishery managers from East Coast states and federal agencies, to make adjustments to their assessment methodologies two years ago to better account for the role of…