Atlantic Menhaden - 2013
Stock Status – Concern – The coast-wide Atlantic menhaden stock is experiencing overfishing. This is based on the 2010 Atlantic menhaden stock assessment. Addendum V of Amendment 1 established a new fishing mortality (F) target and threshold, based on maximum spawning potential (MSP) of 15% and 30% respectively. Amendment 2 established new MSP based reference points for spawning stock biomass (SSB) based on MSP of 15% for the target and 30% for the threshold. It could not be determined if the stock was overfished after evaluating the new SSB reference points.
Average Commercial Landings and Value 2003–2012 – 12,313,539 lbs./$1,081,742
2012 Commercial Landings and Value – 538,783 lbs./$82,974
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 unfished SSB with the goal to increase abundance, SSB, and availability of menhaden as forage. In December 2012, the Atlantic Menhaden Board approved Amendment 2 that establishes a 170,800 MT total allowable catch beginning in 2013. The TAC represents a 20% reduction from the average of landings from 2009 through 2011.
Research and Data Needs – Develop coast-wide adult abundance index. Develop multispecies statistical catch-at-age model to estimate menhaden natural mortality at age.
2012 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 2003–2012 – 14.5, 2012 – 1.5
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, contact Trish Murphey at Trish.Murphey@ncdenr.gov or 800-682- 2632 or 252-726-7021.