Fisheries Watch

PUBLIC'S CONCERN FOR MENHADEN PAYS OFF
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) responded to concerns from east coast states that the industrial harvest of menhaden is depleting the stock and causing harm to Chesapeake Bay by placing a cap on its harvest. As a result, the industrial harvest of menhaden for the next five years will be limited to 105,800 metric tons — the average catch for the past five years. The menhaden limit brought in more public comment than any other issue in the ASMFC's history with a strong majority favoring a limit or even a temporary suspension on the catch. For more information, visit www.menhadenmatter.org.

EELS COULD SLIP AWAY AS BAIT
Striped bass anglers could lose one of their most deadly weapons, as there is a real possibility that the use of eels for bait could be prohibited or greatly restricted. Earlier this year, a proposal to add the American eel to the Threatened or Endangered Species lists received a positive response from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in conjunction with the National Marine Fisheries Service. The agencies will conduct additional biological research before making a final decision. For more information, visit www.fws.gov.

THREE-YEAR DECREASE ON FLUKE HARVEST
Despite the improving stock rates outlined in the latest summer flounder stock assessment, the Summer Flounder Monitoring Committee has decided that the numbers weren't high enough to remain on course for meeting the goal of a 210-million-pound stock by 2010. As a result, instead of the ten-percent harvest increase anticipated for 2006, the committee is imposing a 26-million-pound harvest quota for each of the next three years — a big drop from this year's 30.3-million-pound quota. Since fluking has improved in the Raritan Bay area, catch statistics could put New Jersey and New York over this year's allocations, which could lead to even tougher regulations than those already anticipated for 2006 due to the quota cuts.
For more information, visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov.