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A Turning Point for Menhaden, Part Four

Video by Chris Moore/CBF Staff.

Just a few weeks ago, in an historic vote, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) decided it was time to set new standards for how it manages menhaden, an essential fish to the entire coastal ecosystem. But due to overfishing in 32 of the past 54 years, menhaden’s population had fallen to a mere 8 percent of what it once was–its lowest point on record!

After thousands of letters and e-mails (including 1,036 from CBF advocates) as well as comments at public ASMFC hearings, it became clear just how important this fish is not only to our waters, but to the human community it supports.

Bill Goldsborough, CBF’s Director of Fisheries, fought for years for the protection of this fish, which up until now had hardly been managed at all. His persistence was instrumental in bringing about this landmark decision to establish a healthy population of menhaden for all of us. Check out the video above for Goldsborough's reactions to the vote just moments after it happened.

—Emmy Nicklin

Read the full menhaden story. View parts One, Two, and Three of this menhaden blog series.   


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Hampton Bay

I agree with you Emmy, this has to come to an end. We cannot go on like this until the point of no return.

Thank you for leading the fight!


winston todd rice

your a bunch of dumbasses, show proof it is overfished.


A victory for some and fear for others. Many folks make their living fishing that fish. This is a multifaceted topic and all perspectives should be considered before forming an opinion of victory. People feed their families off of that fish.

Emmy Nicklin

In response to Winston Todd Rice:

The latest scientific assessment of the menhaden population showed that overfishing is occurring and that it occurred in 32 out of the last 54 years. The population is about 8 percent of what it once was. A panel of independent scientists warned that this is unsustainable and called for action to increase the population. Over the last 25 years the menhaden population has declined 86 percent. In addition to the disruption this causes the coastal ecosystem, it has meant the loss of many fishery-related jobs. If we sit back and do nothing about it, more will be lost, maybe permanently. Truthfully, that would be the “dumb” way to respond to this situation.

Emmy Nicklin

In response to BC:

We understand and agree that management of the menhaden fishery (like any fishery) must be sensitive to the fishermen. But in the past, menhaden management has been sensitive ONLY to the fishermen and has left this fishery basically unregulated. Now the population is at its lowest point on record, and fewer people are able to make a living off menhaden than ever before. The latest scientific advice says we need to turn this around by adopting more conservative reference points, just like the ASMFC has just done. Yes, we want more fish in the water for striped bass and other fish and seabirds to eat, but we also need a larger menhaden population so it can support stable fisheries into the future. This action is the responsible thing to do for both the fish and the fishermen.

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