Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission: “Gulf menhaden stock is not overfished, overfishing is not occurring”

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GSMFC concludes that Gulf menhaden stock is not overfished, nor is overfishing occurring.

'One of Omega Protein’s most important goals is to ensure the long term health of the menhaden fishery for future generations,' said Omega Protein President and CEO Bret Scholtes.

The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC) has completed a comprehensive, three year stock assessment of the Gulf menhaden population and found that the stock is healthy and sustainable at current harvest levels. The assessment was conducted in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review Program (SEDAR) and the GSMFC, who worked with experts from the five marine resource agencies of the Gulf states to provide technical knowledge throughout the assessment process.    

“This stock assessment is state-of-the-art and was conducted with the highest level of professionalism and integrity. The determination that the Gulf menhaden population is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring is great news to everyone who demands responsible fishing practices and products derived from a sustainable source,” said Omega Protein Senior Fisheries Biologist, Ron Lukens.

Since the completion of the assessment, the GSMFC has approved the adoption of new reference points, which were put in place to measure the rate of harvest and to ensure the continued health of the population. The reference points were set to be equivalent to the total harvest at fishing mortality levels of 35% Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) and 30% SPR, respectively. SPR is a metric used in fisheries management that is a ratio that compares the spawning biomass of fish in a population when it is undergoing harvest to the total spawning biomass of fish that would be in the population if fishing were not occurring.

The landings associated with the F35% target would be 663,583 MT, and the landings associated with the F30% threshold would be 680,765 MT. For reference, the most recent three year average landings of Gulf menhaden were 563,042 MT, well below the range of harvest that would cause concern about the health of the population.

“One of Omega Protein’s most important goals is to ensure the long term health of the menhaden fishery for future generations. Our aim is to protect the fish stock and the people whose livelihoods depend on it through responsible operations,” said Omega Protein President and CEO Bret Scholtes. Scholtes added, “We have a long history of transparent cooperation with federal, state and university fisheries researchers and we intend to continue these relationships for years to come.”

Future stock assessments will be conducted every five years, unless the target level of harvest is exceeded for two years in a row or the threshold level of harvest is exceeded one time. In either event, an update stock assessment would be requested at the earliest opportunity.

A link to the SEDAR Gulf Menhaden Stock Assessment can be found here:

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Ben Landry
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