Atlantic menhaden is an important prey species for several marine predators, as well as the basis of the largest fishery on the U.S. East Coast. Managers at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) are pursuing the development of ecological reference points (ERPs) to help them sustain both the fishery and the species that rely on menhaden as food.
This project is intended to help managers evaluate ERP options for Atlantic menhaden. It will update and enhance an ecosystem model developed in an earlier project supported by the Lenfest Ocean Program. The model, which accounts for menhaden and its full suite of predators—including fish, seabirds, and marine mammals—will be updated with more recent data and more age categories for menhaden, among other improvements. The researchers will then use the model to forecast the effects of a range of reference points, including the ERPs under development by a working group of the ASMFC.
The project is led by Dr. Andre Buchheister of Humboldt State University and will complete its work by 2020. The researchers will also connect with the ASMFC working group to help inform its ongoing development of ERPs.