Fishery managment protections needed for American shad and river herrings
On May 31, 2012 the Delaware Chapter asked Governor Markell to strengthen management protections for American shad and river herrings.
Delaware’s rivers and estuaries once supported abundant river herring and shad, providing opportunities for recreational fishing and an abundant food source for wildlife. Delaware recently implemented a moratorium on commercial and recreational fishing for river herring and a similar moratorium on American shad may be imminent. But more work needs to be done in federal waters to recover these depleted fish.
In federal waters, the incidental catch of river herring and shad remains a serious concern, and impedes recovery. The Northeast Fisheries Science Center estimates that millions of river herring and shad are caught every year by industrial mackerel and Atlantic herring trawlers operating in federal waters. We are encouraged that the MAFMC and New England Fishery Management Council are currently developing plans to address this problem. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (“MAFMC”) should take the lead on federal management of river herring and American shad by including robust, science-based conservation and management measures in Amendment 14 to the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan, including. We asked Governor Markell that the following to be included in the management measures::
- Incorporation of river herring and shad as stocks within the federal fishery management plan for Atlantic mackerel, squid and butterfish. This action would afford river herring and shad direly needed conservation and management measures in federal waters.
- An interim cap or limit in 2013 on river herring and shad catch in the mackerel fishery.
- 100 percent at-sea monitoring on all mid-water trawl fishing trips, including assigning one observer to each vessel in a pair trawl operation. This fleet of approximately 20 mid-water trawl vessels is responsible for over 70% of combined river herring and shad incidental catch.
A response from the Governor's Office was received on July 6, 2012:
Thank you for contacting Governor Markell with your concern about the management of the Delaware fish populations.
The Governor and Secretary O'Mara are committed to protecting and rehabilitating our coast and the wildlife that inhabits our local ecosystem. We want you to know that your concerns are taken seriously and a number of staff from DNREC and the Governor's office have reviewed your recommendations.
The following is the update on outcomes regarding Amendment 14 from the MAFMC meeting from June 11, 2012.
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s meeting held during the week of June 11, 2012 addressed Amendment 14 of the Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish (MSB) management plan. Committee discussion of the plan’s management alternatives 1-9 focused on improving shad and river herring conservation. Not all management options were adopted based on implementation and cost considerations, and, while Delaware would have preferred stronger management measures, we support the management options approved by the Committee.
More specifically, the options chosen in management sets 1 and 2 require more thorough measurement of the catch and more stringent reporting of the catch. The options chosen in management sets 3 and 5 increase observer coverage in the mackerel fishery, but not to the 100% level requested by many interest groups (note that these management alternatives do call for a reevaluation of observer coverage in 2 years, at which time 100% observer coverage may be mandated). The option chosen in management set 4 requires a review of bycatch reduction strategies. The options chosen in management set 6 will require that mortality caps be put into place for American shad and river herring in the MSB fisheries, with the mortality caps better established as data becomes available. The options chosen for management sets 7 and 8 retain the status quo and do not designate any areas of the ocean as off limits to the MSB fishery, with such an approach chosen in consideration of economic impacts to the MSB fisheries and of legal issues related to the federal Magnuson Stevens Act. The option chosen in management set 9 begins MSB Amendment 15, which would include the option of designating American shad and river herring as “stocks in the fishery,” with Delaware supporting such an approach.
We look forward to our continued work with you and all of your organizations on this and other important environmental issues in Delaware.
Jennifer A Hill
Director of Constituent Relations
Governor Jack Markell