The Atlantic Menhaden Advisory Panel of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council recommended that fishery managers leave a small amount of fish in the state’s quota (13%) to ensure that commercial fishermen in small boats can continue to fish through the spring and summer seasons.
These small-boat fishermen supply bait shops with menhaden to use as bait for striped bass, an important recreational species. The Council voted to approve recommending that Department of Environmental Management (DEM) director Janet Coit establish a set-aside for this fishery.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) set Rhode Island’s annual menhaden quota at a very low level of 78,000 pounds, based on historical landings in Rhode Island—not fish caught in Rhode Island. However, the DEM’s Narragansett Bay Atlantic Menhaden Management Area monitoring program (one of the best in the nation) has determined that millions of pounds of menhaden are caught in Rhode Island, but landed in Massachusetts. The Advisory Panel has recommended that Rhode Island’s ASMFC members advocate for an increase in quota based on this catch data.