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November 1, 2000


For more information contact:
Bruce Freeman at 609-292-2083

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife will host a public hearing on Wednesday, November 15, to receive comment on the ASMFC's draft of Amendment 1 to the Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The meeting, scheduled in response to concerns that the coastal population of Atlantic menhaden is declining, will be held at Stockton College's A-Wing Lecture Hall at 6 p.m. in Pomona, Atlantic County.

"The Division is working cooperatively with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to ensure the future of Atlantic menhaden stocks in New Jersey waters," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Current management strategies must be assessed and if necessary, modified to allow the menhaden population to replenish itself."

Amendment 1 is the first rewrite of the existing Atlantic Menhaden FMP since 1992 and is a result of concerns that the management strategies in the current plan do not properly address declines in the population. The amendment is also the result of a desire to bring the FMP in line with Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Conservation and Management Act mandates.

One of the key provisions in Amendment 1 is a new overfishing definition that will be used as a benchmark for developing future management measures. The new overfishing definition employs a target and threshold approach for assessing the status of the population. Other provisions include data collection procedures, catch control options and a minimum mesh size for purse seine vessels.

The amendment also proposes a restructuring of the management process for Atlantic menhaden. Specifically, there are two options regarding the makeup of the management board that will oversee the menhaden management process - one retaining industry representation and one without it.

Copies of the Draft Amendment can be obtained by contacting ASMFC Administrative Assistant Vanessa Jones at 202-289-6400, ext. 324, or by visiting the ASMFC web site at Written comments must be submitted to the ASMFC c/o Dr. Joseph Desfosse, Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1444 Eye Street, N.W., Sixth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005 by December 22, 2000.