The current guidelines for menhaden management are focused largely on the target species, and thus they may not leave enough menhaden for important ecological functions, such as providing food for predators. To address this, managers envision a shift to new guidelines that include ecological reference points (ERPs). ERPs are benchmark levels of a key metric (e.g. fishing pressure or species abundance), set with the purpose of maintaining critical ecological functions.
In a new paper published in the journal Marine and Coastal Fisheries, Dr. Buchheister and colleagues describe a new ecosystem model called NWACS (for northwest Atlantic continental shelf). Ecosystem models include a much larger range of species than multispecies models, which allows them to simulate the effects of different management actions on the whole system and to account for complex predator-prey feedbacks. The NWACS model is available for decision-makers, experts, and stakeholders interested in further exploration.
To read more about this project led by Dr. Tom Miller and supported by the Lenfest Ocean Program, please visit lenfestocean.org.