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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 19 Menhaden SSR 2012

Marine Fisheries

Atlantic Menhaden

Atlantic Menhaden - 2012

Stock Status – Concern – The coast wide Atlantic menhaden stock is not overfished, but is experiencing overfishing. This is based on a corrected version of the 2010 Atlantic menhaden stock assessment (a mistake was found in the model code of the original 2010 Atlantic menhaden benchmark stock assessment). Addendum V established a new Fishing Mortality (F) target and threshold, based on maximum spawning potential (MSP) of 15% and 30% respectively. Population fecundity remains above target; therefore the stock is not overfished. A Multiple Management Objective Decision Analysis (MODA) has been selected to develop ecological reference points pending funding.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2002–2011 – 19,178,720 lbs./$1,577,986

2011 Commercial Landings and Value – 3,529,967 lbs./$336,528

Average Recreational Landings – Not available

Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – In North Carolina, menhaden are currently included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) FMP compliance requirements. The revised ASMFC FMP was approved in 1992. Addendum I of Amendment 1 modified the biological reference points, stock assessment schedule and revised the habitat section. The 2003 stock assessment used a new model with a fecundity– based biological reference point to determine stock status. Addendum II established a five year annual cap on reduction fishery landings in Chesapeake Bay. Addendum III mirrors the intent and provisions of Addendum II, but incorporated 2005 landings data and allows for the transfer of under– harvest to the following year’s harvest. Addendum IV extended the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery harvest cap, established through Addendum III, for an additional three years (2011 to 2013). Addendum V was approved in November 2011, and establishes a new interim F threshold and target based on MSP that equates to 15% and 30% of a virgin population with the goal is to increase abundance, spawning stock biomass and availability of menhaden as forage. In May of 2012, the Atlantic Menhaden Board began development of Amendment 2 to establish management measures for all fishing sectors and gear types to achieve the new fishing mortality reference points and will be available for public input following the summer of 2012.

Research and Data Needs – Develop coast wide adult abundance index. Develop multispecies statistical catch-at-age model to estimate menhaden natural mortality at age.

Current Regulations – None

Harvest Season – Open to purse seine vessels deployed by a mothership in ocean beyond three miles of beach. Various closures in estuaries (see N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule Book).

Size and Age at Maturity – 7– 9 inches fork length/3+ years

Historic and Current Maximum Age –10 years/ 6– 7 years

Juvenile Abundance Index 2002– 2011 – 14.9, 2011 – 12.3

Habits and Habitat – Atlantic menhaden are estuarine– dependent with a single stock along the Atlantic coast. They spawn during fall– winter in the ocean from the Virginia capes to south of Cape Lookout. Menhaden migrate north from unspecified south Atlantic wintering areas in spring, with larger/older fish going farthest north. Menhaden are unique in their dependence as adults on plankton for food that they strain from the water while swimming in schools near the surface. Recent research indicates that year– class strength is probably determined by environmental factors (currents, temperature, predation, others) acting on larvae as they approach and enter inlets and nursery areas.

For more information, email Trish Murphey at Trish.Murphey@ncdenr.gov or call 800-682- 2632 or 252-726-7021.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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