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Marine Stewardship Council takes an irresponsible approach to fishery certification
The recreational fishing community is expressing concern about the process being used to certify the menhaden fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
Omega Protein and Daybrook Fisheries recently announced that SAI Global is recommending that the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certify the menhaden fishery in the Gulf of Mexico as sustainable, despite ongoing concerns surrounding the industrial harvest of the small oily baitfish.
“There is a host of unknowns surrounding this industrial fishery, and yet the MSC continues to rapidly move forward,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “Sustainability obviously means different things to different people, and we continue to have significant concerns about this certification.”
Conservation groups and tens of thousands of anglers have all expressed concerns that menhaden management fails to account for the critical ecological role that menhaden play in the coastal ecosystem and their impacts to sportfish like snook, redfish, sharks, and other marine predators.
“No one yet knows how much Gulf menhaden is needed to fulfill its role as a primary prey species in the ecosystem,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of government affairs at the American Sportfishing Association. “There is work being done to determine that, but obviously the MSC didn’t consider that critical factor as a prerequisite for making its sustainability decision.”
“Every summer, anglers and charter captains see menhaden boats fishing right on top of Louisiana’s beaches and passes, in the same areas where important sportfish like redfish and speckled trout are feeding and spawning,” said Chris Macaluso, director of marine fisheries for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and an avid Louisiana angler. “For years, I’ve heard about and seen countless dead redfish floating in the same areas where menhaden boats recently fished. Recreational fishermen are right to be concerned, especially since there is so little information about what species are being affected the most from bycatch and how many non-targeted fish are being killed.”
“Menhaden provide the foundation of the entire Gulf recreational fishery, from redfish to tarpon,” said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP’s president and CEO. “Instead of a rushed process aimed at benefiting a few foreign companies, we should have a full science-based review of the fishery. There is too much at stake.”
SAI Global’s recommendation to certify Gulf menhaden as sustainable is a follow-up to the same recommendation for Atlantic menhaden made earlier this year. The Coastal Conservation Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, American Sportfishing Association, The Nature Conservancy, and Chesapeake Bay Foundation are all opposing the Atlantic menhaden certification.
In January of this year, the state of Virginia also formally notified the MSC of its opposition to certifying the Atlantic menhaden purse-seine fishery. In April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to protect menhaden in New York’s waters by prohibiting harvest by purse seine, essentially rejecting the industrial harvest of Atlantic menhaden altogether.
This is YOUR chance to play a role in how our public lands are managed and ensure that sportsmen and women have a say about the places where we love to hunt and fish
The Bureau of Land Management’s Four Rivers Field Office manages more than 780,000 acres of public lands across western Idaho from the Bennett Hills to the eastern shores of Brownlee Reservoir. These landscapes provide some of the finest hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities in western Idaho, as well as important habitat for big game, upland birds, and wild trout.
Currently, the BLM is revising its plan that will determine the future management of these lands for the next 20+ years, and public meetings are scheduled that offer an opportunity for the public to share their ideas directly to the BLM. Sportsmen and women must get involved to ensure that the best habitats are conserved and public access for hunting and fishing is maintained.
Please attend one of four local public meetings and make your voice heard – meeting dates, locations, and times, as well as suggested talking points are listed below.
Public meetings (All meetings run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.)
June 18: Boise District Office 3948 S Development Avenue, Boise ID 83705
June 25: Weiser High School 690 W Indianhead Rd, Weiser, ID 83672
June 26: Emmett Junior High School 301 E 4th St, Emmett, ID 83617
June 27: Mountain Home Junior High School 1600 E 6th S St, Mountain Home, ID 83647
• It is important to me that the Four Rivers BLM Field Office’s RMP revision conserve valuable big game winter range and popular hunting areas. The BLM should adopt a Backcountry Conservation Area for the Bennett Hills that would conserve valuable big game range, sustain sportsmen’s access, and prioritize habitat restoration for one of Idaho’s best mule deer hunting areas.
• I encourage the BLM to identify places where public access acquisition should be a priority, including the creation of access to public lands that are landlocked or difficult to access because there are few or no access points across private land that enable the public to reach BLM lands.
• I request that the BLM take steps to ensure the conservation of identified big game migration corridors and winter range. This should include not only conserving corridors that have already been mapped and analyzed by Idaho Fish and Game, but also migration corridors that will be mapped in the future.
TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation
Hometown: Beech Creek, Pennsylvania
Occupation: George – Flyfishing guide instructor
Amidea – Educational specialist for the PA Fish and Boat Commission
Conservation credentials: Spreading the gospel of flyfishing, the mental health benefits of the outdoors, and bringing balance to areas where a growing populations puts extra demands on water resources.
These high-school sweethearts have been married for nearly 18 years, but their commitment to the outdoors runs just as deep. George says flyfishing is his life, and he spends close to 280 days on the water, while also serving as a coach for the U.S. Youth Flyfishing Team. In her work, Amidea leads a statewide initiative designed to promote and encourage more women to take up fishing. Oh, and that’s when they’re not busy raising two little water bugs of their own.
Here is their story.
George was born in Potter County, along the headwaters of Kettle Creek and started flyfishing at the age of six. Amidea was introduced to the outdoors by her father, who would take her and her brother out on camping trips at a very early age. So, both of us found a connection to the outdoors early on, which is why we spend so much time with our two children in the same capacity.
Collectively, our family has floated hundreds, maybe even a thousand miles, on our FlyCraft boats—in PA and throughout the country—especially when we first started taking our children fishing. It can be challenging and sometimes dangerous for a 5-year-old to wade, so our boats have taken us to waters they wouldn’t have been physically able to stand in.
One of our fondest memories is of taking our two children to Montana for the first time. We spent four full weeks exploring Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas, and from sun up to sundown, we were outside. The expressions on our kids’ faces as we drove through the park and witnessed all the wildlife and beautiful scenery is something we’ll never forget.
There’s a reason why we still live in central PA—it offers almost everything an angler could want. From freestone streams to legendary limestone rivers to the recovering West Branch of the Susquehanna, we have all our bases covered. Plus, we have so many miles of fishable water within a 30- to 90-minute drive from our home.
Clean water means everything in what we do. Trout, obviously one of our favorite species, demand high-quality water conditions, and without clean water, our angling opportunities would be reduced to a fraction of what we currently enjoy.
Most of our family activities revolve around the outdoors, and not having clean water and natural areas to access would have a negative impact on our lives. Technology and our smartphones can be wonderful, but we notice a difference in our mental health when we haven’t been outside for several days, either to walk, hike, float, or fish.
Numerous studies have shown the positive impacts of spending even 20 minutes in a natural environment. So, not only is conservation important to our planet, but we also feel it is imperative to Americans’ mental health and wellbeing.
In our area, development and urban sprawl are major concerns, especially because some of the aquifers that feed our limestone streams are also being tapped for drinking water. This may not be significant now, but eventually we may meet a threshold where we begin to see it having an obvious effect on our streams and water table.
Establishing a healthy balance, whether that’s between our indoor and outdoor lives or between increasing demands on our water resources, is crucial to the future of fishing and our family’s traditions.
Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a questionnaire.
With firm backing from state leaders, sportsmen and women could see more coordinated efforts to improve habitat connectivity and big game population health
At their summer meeting in Colorado this week, the Western Governors’ Association passed a resolution supporting the conservation and state-led management of wildlife migration corridors.
The resolution recognizes that migration corridors and habitats are vital for maintaining the overall health of fish and wildlife populations in the West. Governors are calling on federal land-management agencies to support locally developed initiatives to conserve migration corridors and collaborate with state agencies to implement management efforts.
Though big game species rely on these critical seasonal habitats, migration corridors have not been addressed in conservation policy until recent years. The WGA’s bipartisan support could help shape burgeoning policies affecting all the Western states.
“Migration corridors and connectivity across seasonal habitats are critical pieces of the conservation puzzle for big game and other wildlife,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of the Western Governors’ Association on the conservation of wildlife corridors and improvement of habitat connectivity. We look forward to working with each state to implement on-the-ground conservation strategies that ensure populations of big game animals continue to migrate and thrive.”
The TRCP and 43 other hunting, fishing, and conservation groups recently urged federal lawmakers to use the upcoming Highway Bill to create a dedicated funding source to improve migration crossings.
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.Learn More