The Socioeconomics Quantitative
Ecosystem Team (QET) is continuing to develop an inventory of existing work on
valuation of fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay, a project on governance mapping,
drafting the socioeconomic issue brief for striped bass, and the team’s
stakeholder interview project. The team
will meet again on December 11th to review all activities. Members of the Foodwebs QET are drafting mini-proposals outlined in the work plan
to identify staff, funding, and data needs for accomplishing tasks.
Their next team meeting is on December 3rd
to discuss next steps. The Habitat Suitability QET is drafting
mini-proposals to formally describe the logistics of completing work plan
The next team meeting is on
December 1st to discuss next steps.
The Stock Assessment QET will
be meeting in the coming weeks to review ecosystem-based reference points for
Striped Bass and Menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay.
Species Team Updates:
Species Team met by conference call on November 6th to review
biological background and issue brief outlines and preliminary drafts that team
members have been collaborating on. They
will meet again in early December to discuss progress. The Blue
completed, they will be distributed to the QETs for use in their work. The Menhaden
Species Team Biological Background and Issues Briefs continue to be reviewed by
the QETs for use in identifying performance measures and development of
reference points.The Striped Bass Editorial Oversight
Committee is moving forward with a prospectus for pursuing formal publication
of the Striped Bass Biological Background and Issues Briefs. Species Team is currently submitting briefs and MD Sea Grant is
editing them as they are submitted.
This month’s perspective, submitted by Jake Kritzer provides
an overview of the multi-scale ecology and multi-scale management of shad and
Jake Kritzer is a Senior
Scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund.
He is also a member of the Alosines Species Team for EBFM in the
Multi-scale ecology and multi-scale management of shad and river herring
Jake Kritzer, Ph.D., Environmental Defense Fund
life histories of humble fishes
The four species in the genus
that collectively comprise North America’s shad and river herring complex (American
A. sapidissima, hickory shad
A. pseudoharengus, and blueback herring
A. aestivalis) are, at least in terms of
appearance, fairly humble fish.
alosines have a basic fusiform shape with a small triangular dorsal fin, and
simple lateral markings.
Adding to their
modest nature, many value these species less for their own sake and more for
their role as forage, feeding larger predators such as striped bass, bluefish, tuna,
marine mammals and birds of prey (Buckel et al. 1999; Gessner 2002; Brown and
Terhune 2003; Walter et al. 2003).
However, despite their seemingly humble nature, these species exhibit
one of the most complex life cycles of all fishes, especially in terms of
spatial complexity (Table 1).
species spawn in freshwater ecosystems between late winter and early summer,
depending upon latitude.
There, the eggs
hatch and the young spend their first few months of life.
Later in the year, young-of-year move
downstream to estuarine waters to overwinter.
During their second year of life, fish move further offshore and begin a
marine phase that lasts until maturation and first spawning.
The marine phase might be restricted to
nearshore waters not far from the natal river for hickory shad, but can extend
to the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy for the other species.
When fish move upstream to spawn, most return
to their natal river, but some will stray to other spawning runs, with most
demographically meaningful straying likely occurring among tributaries to a
mainstem river or estuary (Palkovacs et al. 2008).
Table 1. Major aspects of the
life histories of alosines, the geographic feature in which each occurs, the
spatial scale of that geographic feature, and the nature of fisheries
management at that spatial scale within the Chesapeake watershed.
Life history attribute
Management at scale
hatching, early juvenile development
lake or pond
<10s of km
·Absent, but nested within state and
10s-100s of km
· State and inter-state
100s-1000s of km
·State and inter-state within 3 miles
·Absent in federal waters
10s of km or
·State and inter-state
Partially matching this multi-scale life history complexity, management
of alosine fisheries also takes place at multiple scales.
Individual states implement harvest
regulations on their own or as part of the multi-state Potomac River Fisheries
State and PRFC
management matches the scale over which fish from different populations share
young-of-year overwintering grounds, and over which most straying likely
States and PRFC are, however,
bound by minimum management measures set by the Atlantic States Marine
Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).
by ASMFC covers much of the nearshore range of these species, and part of the
spatial extent of the ocean phase as well.
scales of management
Co-management of alosine stocks during the ocean phase by the U.S. and
Canada is a missing element of governance.
In fact, the name “river herring” is somewhat misleading, as these
species spend the majority of their lives in saltwater.
However, before co-management with Canada
becomes a plausible management direction, the federal fishery management
councils within the U.S. must first tackle the challenge of managing these
species within the EEZ.
Some of the
marine phase takes place within state waters, but fish are quite common further
offshore as well (Neves 1981; Fig. 1).
management of alosines within the U.S. EEZ comes into being, a door might open
for co-management by the two nations.
federal government is already engaged in joint assessment and management
agreements with Canada for species including Atlantic herring, Atlantic cod and
Two of the three Atlantic councils administer fishery management plans
(FMPs) for small-mesh fisheries targeting schooling pelagic species that have
ecological and behavioral similarities with alosines at sea.The New England Fishery Management Council
(NEFMC) administers the Atlantic herring FMP, and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery
Management Council (MAFMC) administers the squid, mackerel and butterfish
FMP.Both fisheries are known to impact
alosines (Harrington et al. 2005).Recent estimates of river herring bycatch in the Atlantic herring
fishery suggests added mortality of 1 million to 2 million pounds of fish, a
value that approximates the directed harvest in recent years (Cieri et al.
There are promising indications that the federal councils are set to address
the challenge of managing alosines in the EEZ.In May 2009, ASMFC submitted a letter to the Secretary of Commerce
requesting emergency funds to increase monitoring of river herring bycatch in
federal fisheries and to support other bycatch mitigation measures, and MAFMC
seconded this request in a June 2009 letter.Earlier, NEFMC had voted to develop bycatch mitigation measures in
Amendment 4 to the Atlantic herring FMP, although this has been deferred to
Amendment 5 as the Council focuses on new legal requirements.
At the other end of the spectrum, management of alosines at the finest
spatial scale is generally lacking along the eastern seaboard, including within
the Chesapeake watershed.
populations are defined by spawning sites in rivers, streams, lakes and
For the most part, fisheries
harvesting these populations are not managed at a comparable scale.
Instead, management of these local populations
is nested within larger state and inter-state bodies.
For some of the larger freshwater systems
(e.g., the Susquehanna or Potomac), state or inter-state management does match
the appropriate geographic and ecological scale.
But smaller systems that fall within a single
municipality (i.e., a town or county) are rarely managed at that scale of
This is not the case everywhere.
In Maine, state law establishes minimum conservation measures that all
alewife fisheries must meet, but then allows local towns to take management
authority pending approval of a suitable harvest plan.
River herring fisheries are comparatively low
in dollar value, and the costs of monitoring, management and enforcement in such
small and numerous fisheries are not economical for a large entity like the
But these responsibilities are
well suited to local municipalities in fisheries of this scale.
Furthermore, ceding authority to
municipalities allows use and management to be tailored to local community
goals and characteristics.
Some towns choose to prohibit fishing, either due to concern for the
status of the run or because they prioritize other uses of river herring, such
as passive recreation or forage.
other towns do allow harvest, continuing a tradition that precedes European
settlement of North America.
cases, a town will contract harvest rights to a single individual or family,
often one that has been running the harvest for many years.
This is the case on the Nequasset River in
Woolwich, Maine (Fig. 2).
of management to the local level creates a much stronger sense of stewardship
and a greater investment (in terms of identity as much as dollars) in
for Chesapeake Bay
These missing scales of management point to important actions needed
within the Chesapeake watershed.Firstly, all stakeholders, including scientists, managers, fishermen and
other users, need to be heard in the federal management arena, making it clear
that ocean impacts are a concern and need to be better monitored at the very
least, and likely mitigated as well.For
species with such complex multi-scale life histories, participation in
management must extend beyond the local and regional scales.
But there are new directions that can be taken directly by managers
within the watershed.Amendment 2 to the
ASMFC Shad and River Herring FMP implemented a default closure of all directed
river herring fisheries along the coast, but with an opportunity to petition
for continued harvest in a river if sustainability can be demonstrated.Stakeholders in Maine, particularly the newly
formed Alewife Harvesters of Maine, lobbied hard for this provision.And many fisheries in the state should be
well positioned to demonstrate sustainability because management is already
tailored to each unique local situation, and the local managers and harvesters
are invested in sustainability.
An important but underappreciated concept in ecosystem-based management
is that of “socio-ecological systems”, wherein management not only addresses
the full range of anthropogenic impacts, but also human needs (McClanahan et
al. 2009).This goes beyond simply
providing food and revenue to communities, and aims to build management
structures that mesh with unique social and cultural elements.Maine’s approach to management of river
herring fisheries moves in the direction of building robust socio-ecological
systems, and is an approach that states in the Chesapeake watershed might want
to replicate.There are already numerous
community-driven management and outreach efforts underway within the Chesapeake
region beyond the realm of fisheries management driven by vibrant and active
watershed associations, riverkeepers, and other organizations on the Mattaponi,
Pamunkey, Patuxent, Nanticoke, and other rivers.These groups demonstrate the potential of
community-based environmental management, which can be paired with
community-based fisheries management.Indeed, this direction might present the best opportunity for Chesapeake
fisheries to either remain open or one day re-open under ASMFC’s Amendment
Of course, adopting a stronger community-based management system will
not guarantee sustainability.Maine has
many other advantages promoting healthy shad and river herring populations,
including lower population density and associated watershed impacts.Also, Maine’s rivers are in closer proximity
to the major oceanic habitats for alosines during the non-spawning seasons
(Fig. 1B), which likely minimizes the strain of migration and allows better physiological
condition during the spawning run.Despite these advantages, several of Maine’s river herring populations
are declining, while others remain stable but at low abundance compared to
recent historical maxima (Brown 2008).
Furthermore, Massachusetts has a system similar to Maine in which much
management authority is ceded to municipalities, yet Massachusetts was the
first state to close its river herring fisheries.This might reflect poor coordination of
fisheries management with other aspects of local environmental management, or
it might reflect impacts outside the watershed and beyond local or state
control, underscoring the need to address impacts at all relevant ecological
and management scales.Still, adopting a
stronger community-based management approach that attends to both environmental
and socio-economic needs particular to a given locality, and allows and
encourages local attention to and responsibility for those needs, is a critical
step in building the multi-scale management system needed to ensure
sustainability while maintaining ecosystem functions of alosine populations.
(2008) Status of river herring in Maine. pp 132-167 in: ASMFC (2008) 2008 River Herring Stock Status Report. Washington, D.C.,
Brown, C.L. and J.M. Terhune.
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J.A., D.O. Conover, N.D. Steinberg, and K.A. McKown (1999) Impact of age-0
bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) predation on age-0 fishes in the Hudson
River estuary: evidence for density-dependent loss of juvenile striped bass (Morone
saxatilis). FisheryBulletin 56: 275-287.
Nelson G, Armstrong M (2008) Estimates
of river herring bycatch in the directed Atlantic herring fishery.pp 245-662 in: ASMFC (2008) 2008 River
Herring Stock Status Report. Washington, D.C., 662pp.
(2002) Return of the Osprey. New
York: Ballantine Books.
Harrington JM, Myers RA, Rosenberg AA (2005) Wasted Resources: Bycatch and Discards
in U. S. Fisheries. Report prepared by MRAG America, Inc. for Oceana.
Neves RJ (1981) Offshore distribution of
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blueback herring, Alosa aestivalis,
along the Atantic coast. Fishery Bulletin
Palkovacs EP, Dion KB, Post DM, Cacone A (2008) Independent evolutionary origins of
landlocked alewife populations and rapid parallel evolution of phenotypic
J.F., A.S. Overton, K.H. Ferry, and M.E. Mather (2003) Atlantic coast feeding
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McClanahan TR, Castilla JC, White AT, Defeo O
(2009) Healing small-scale fisheries by facilitating complex socio-ecological
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