A public hearing will be held in Delaware by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) regarding a proposed amendment to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden. The purpose of the hearing to gather public comment on proposed menhaden management measures. The hearing will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 28 at the DNREC Lewes Field Facility, 901 Pilottown Road, Lewes, located adjacent to the Lewes Boat Ramp. Similar public hearings are being held by the ASFMC in other Atlantic coastal states.

The ASMFC’s Atlantic Menhaden Management Board approved the public information document (PID) for Amendment 2 to the management plan for public comment and review. As the first step in the development of the draft amendment, the PID presents the current status of the fishery and resource, and solicits public input on which major issues and alternatives should be included for consideration and analysis to achieve menhaden population management goals.

The PID’s primary focus is to initiate discussion on the timing and implementation of achieving the recently-adopted fishing mortality threshold. Based on the most recent stock assessment of fishing mortality in 2008, overfishing is occurring, but the stock is not overfished. The goal of the new fishing mortality threshold and target rates is to increase abundance, spawning stock biomass and menhaden availability as a forage species. The PID also seeks public input toward creating a more timely and comprehensive catch reporting system, and scopes potential options to be used in managing Atlantic menhaden commercial bait and reduction fisheries as well as recreational fishery.

Along with the development of Amendment 2, the peer-reviewed stock assessment will be updated with data through 2011 to provide a more recent estimate of fishing mortality. Results of the assessment update will be used to estimate the harvest reductions needed to achieve the new threshold and target fishing mortality rates. Therefore, preliminary harvest reductions are provided in the PID but will likely change based on the results of the stock assessment update.

Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input by either attending the public hearing or providing written comments. The PID may be viewed at http://www.asmfc.org/speciesDocuments/menhaden/fmps/Amend2PID_DraftForPublicComment.pdf. The public comment deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2012 and should be mailed to Mike Waine, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201;fax to 703-842-0741 or email to mwaine@asmfc.org with subject line: Menhaden PID.

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