Developing Ecosystem Based Reference Points for Atlantic Menhaden
Tom Miller (University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science)
GRANT AWARDED: November 2012. Atlantic menhaden is a forage fish that is the target of the largest single-species fishery on the east coast of the United States. Historically, menhaden have been managed using biological reference points that focus only on achieving maximum sustainable yield of menhaden. Current management does not consider their crucial roles as prey for predatory fishes or consumers of plankton. This project will develop precautionary, ecosystem-based reference points for managing the Atlantic menhaden fishery. The researchers will use both empirical data and modeling to provide a more holistic understanding of how menhaden function in the ecosystem and to develop, evaluate, and compare candidate ecosystem-based reference points. This research will provide fishery managers with new tools and recommendations for balancing the tradeoffs of different policies. It may also serve as a model for the development and implementation of ecosystem-based reference points for other species in the current single species management framework.