Atlantic and Gulf menhaden are thriving, healthy species and are two of the best-managed fisheries in the world, according to a report released Feb. 11, “Strength in Numbers: A Closer Look at Atlantic & Gulf Menhaden.”
The analysis, produced by Omega Protein, draws from the latest menhaden assessments by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC). While examining the history of the fishery and its sustainable practices, the report takes an in-depth look at one of America’s largest and oldest fisheries.
“Both the Atlantic and Gulf menhaden fisheries are monitored and managed according to the best available science,” Omega Protein senior fisheries scientist Peter Himchak said. “Official management bodies like ASMFC and GSMFC, as well as independent, third-party organizations like Friend of the Sea and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, have all affirmed the health of Atlantic and Gulf menhaden.”
After two stock assessments failed as a result of a broken assessment model, ASMFC completely overhauled its methods and models for the 2015 assessment, Omega Protein noted in its announcement. This new assessment found that menhaden had not been overfished in decades and that the stock was in far better shape than anyone previously had thought.
According to ASMFC, the assessment “is the latest and best information available on the status of the coastwide Atlantic menhaden stock for use in fisheries management.” In addition, the independent, scientific peer reviewers agreed. Dr. Michael Jones, a peer reviewer with Michigan State University, noted, “We were very, very impressed with the thoroughness and the comprehensiveness of the stock assessment.” Describing the reviewers’ perspective, Jones told the Bay Journal, “Overall, bottom line, the panel offered a strong endorsement for both the findings and the methods of the assessment.”
The most recent assessment on Gulf menhaden finds a similar record of health and sustainability. These comprehensive assessments are critical for accurately monitoring the fisheries, guaranteeing their long-term health and informing the sustainable rules and regulations currently in place.
The report notes that ASMFC and GSMFC both "conduct regular assessments of Atlantic and Gulf menhaden to evaluate the health of the stocks. According to the most recent assessments for both species (2015 for Atlantic menhaden and 2013 for Gulf menhaden), neither Atlantic nor Gulf menhaden are overfished, nor are they experiencing overfishing.”
The report also provides a look into the importance of Atlantic and Gulf menhaden as sources of high-quality marine ingredients. Because menhaden are a rich source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, they are playing an increasingly important role in human health through functional foods, supplements and aquaculture growth.
"Strength in Numbers" shows how menhaden fisheries are commited to sustainability and resource management. It underlines the importance of a long-term shift to ecosystem-based management practices, showcases the success of the Atlantic and Gulf menhaden fisheries in reducing by-catch to some of the lowest levels of any fishery in the world and highlights their commitment to the community to ensure the sustainability of this important resource.
Omega Protein Corp. is a century-old nutritional company that develops, produces and delivers healthy products throughout the world to improve the nutritional integrity of functional foods, dietary supplements and animal feeds.