In Chris Knauss' recent column interviewing Chesapeake Bay Ecological Foundation President Jim Price ("ASMFC menhaden action not enough says Price," 12/22), Mr. Price makes claims that are not supported by currently available scientific data. Most notable is Mr. Price's claim that a 50 percent reduction in the menhaden harvest was necessary to preserve the menhaden population.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) 2012 menhaden assessment concluded that menhaden were experiencing overfishing. Unfortunately, it could definitively conclude little else about the menhaden population. The model used in the assessment proved to be so unreliable that it was rejected for use in management advice: the assessment itself states that the flaws in its model "cast considerable doubt" on the accuracy of the results of the assessment.
As a result of these issues, the exact status of the fishery is uncertain; the last reliable assessment, from 2010, only contains data up to the 2008 fishing season. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the stock, the ASMFC settled on the 20 percent reduction, until a new, more accurate stock assessment could be conducted. To say that a 50 percent reduction was called for ignores the current state of menhaden science, as well as the rationale behind the decision.
While Mr. Price may personally feel that a 50 percent reduction is the best available option, readers have been made aware that he was expressing his opinion, not a position based on the available science or the ASMFC's review of it.
Mr. Landry is director of public affairs for Omega Protein.