10/14/1999 Letter To Dr. Lisa Kline, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

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Chesapeake Bay Ecological Foundation, Inc. Founded 1984, Easton, MD

10/14/1999 Letter To Dr. Lisa Kline, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Dr. Lisa Kline
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
1444 Eye Street, NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for the time and effort you spent to answer my question concerning what the Atlantic Menhaden Peer Review Panel meant when they stated: “The Panel did not receive any direct evidence of local depletion of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay and Florida waters”. In your letter dated September 24, 1999, you stated the panel provides the following clarification of this issue: “The Panel was not presented with any published information on the local depletion of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay. The information presented by members of the attending public is still work in progress and has not been published or reviewed”.

After receiving a copy of the Atlantic Menhaden Peer Review Report, I discussed the issue of what the panel meant by direct evidence with Dr. Joseph Desfosse. In my opinion, the Maryland Atlantic menhaden pound net landings catch-per-unit effort data and the Maryland Juvenile Finfish Seining Survey index for Atlantic menhaden should be considered direct evidence. Dr. Desfosse stated that the Maryland pound net landings could be considered direct evidence, since catch-per-unit effort data was available.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Juvenile Finfish Seining Survey Index is currently being used by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to provide valuable data to manage the striped bass fishery. The Atlantic menhaden index is calculated from the same MD-DNR Juvenile Finfish Seining Survey and correlates extremely well with the Atlantic menhaden population estimates made by the National Marine Fisheries Service and should be considered direct evidence. The Chesapeake Bay Acid Rain Foundation and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources presented this information to the Peer Review Panel on November 18, 1998 in Baltimore, MD. The Peer Review Panel may not have classified this information as published; however, this should not change the fact that valid scientific data was presented. The MD-DNR Juvenile Finfish Seining Survey data clearly demonstrates the Chesapeake Bay is experiencing extremely poor recruitment of juvenile Atlantic menhaden, resulting in a severe depletion of Age-0 Atlantic menhaden for the past eight consecutive years. These facts are supported by the recruitment to Age-1 population estimates published by the NMFS Population Dynamics Team in Beaufort, NC. In your letter, you stated: “The Panel did recognize that there may be seasonal depletions, but had no quantitative information on the magnitude of these depletions”. However, the MD-DNR pound net catch-per-unit effort data and the Juvenile Finfish Seining Survey data provides quantitative information for Atlantic menhaden in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

The CBARF, the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Emmett Duke, Aide to Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, met with Eric Schwaab, Director of Fisheries, MD-DNR, on October 6, 1999, to discuss the current status of the Atlantic menhaden fishery, the amendment process to the Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Management Plan and the recruitment of Age-0 menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay. There was a consensus at this meeting that the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay has been experiencing very poor recruitment of Age-0 menhaden for almost a decade, and we believe the intensive purse-seine fishery in Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay depletes the menhaden population on a seasonal basis, preventing large numbers of Age-1 and Age-2 menhaden from migrating to the upper portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

I would like to be advised of any on-going research projects being conducted for Atlantic menhaden by the NMFS. The SABRE Project has been completed for several years, and I would like to know when a draft copy of the Project’s findings would be available. I have contacted Dr. Larry Crowder and requested a copy of his draft report on the SABRE Project, however, I have never received a copy of his work as promised. Could you please provide me with the research information that was obtained by the SABRE Project on Atlantic menhaden, since the results could help us better understand the distribution and abundance of menhaden on their spawning grounds. The NMFS needs to make this information available to fishery managers and to the public, so more informed decisions can be made on the management of this species. I appreciate the help and information that you have provided and look forward to hearing from you in regard to the SABRE Project.

I am requesting the ASMFC accept the MD-DNR Juvenile Finfish Seining Survey data and the MD-DNR pound net landings catch-per-unit effort data for Atlantic menhaden as direct evidence and amend the Stock Assessment Report No. 99-01 and the Public Information Document accordingly. If this request is not acceptable, due to the fact the MD-DNR data does not qualify as published information, I would like the Stock Assessment Report No. 99-01 and the PID to be amended to reflect the Peer Review Panel’s clarification of this issue, as stated in your letter dated September 24, 1999: “The Panel was not presented with any published information on the local depletion of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay”. The stock assessment and landings data presented by the MD-DNR are accurate and valid whether defined as published or unpublished information and should be considered direct evidence.

Sincerely,
James E. Price

CC: John H. Dunnigan
Joseph Desfosse
Sherman Baynard, CCA-MD
Bill Goldsborough, CBF
Congressman Wayne Gilchrest
Atlantic Menhaden Peer Review Panel Members
Dr. David Secor
Dr. Richard Condry
Dr. Behzad Mahmoudi
Dr. Kevin Friedland