Thursday, March 8, 2018

Menhaden update -- the little keystone species with big impact

Menhaden are a "keystone" species in the Chesapeake Bay.  That means that they have a larger impact on their ecosystem than would be expected by their numbers -- they basically hold the food chain together, feeding larger species and eating smaller ones (algae).  For more info, check out my previous post on this little fish.

I read today that the Virginia General Assembly decided not to pass an important set of protections for this fish.  Here's the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's summary:

A critical piece of legislation to protect menhaden has failed to advance in Virginia's General Assembly.
This common-sense and necessary bill would have made required updates to Virginia's menhaden management plan to ensure a healthy menhaden population for years to come. The health of the Bay's ecology and economy depend on this fish. By not passing this legislation, Virginia has missed an opportunity to support better management of the menhaden resource and all the businesses that depend on a strong menhaden population.
While this is a setback, we are hopeful Virginia finds a path to remain in compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) menhaden management plan. Fish don't follow state lines, so the ASMFC process is critical for states to work together on managing fisheries. If Virginia ignores that collaborative process, it would open itself up to possible sanctions and set a dangerous precedent that threatens good fisheries management all along the Atlantic Coast.

Thank you for your support in this fight. An overwhelming number of residents and businesses expressed support for the latest menhaden management plan. With you by our side, we will not rest in our efforts to protect this critical species in Virginia.
Chris Moore
Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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