Monday, December 21, 2015

The Good and The Bad for Atlantic Menhaden | National Geographic (blogs)

Very interesting perspective on Bunker (as we call them) fishery by Carl Safina, the well known and conscientious conservationist. Basic point: we need Cod food more than cat food, or worthless fish oil at GNC.The Good and The Bad for Atlantic Menhaden | National Geographic (blogs)

by Carl Safina  Co-authored by Elizabeth Brown

On May 5th the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission met to make pivotal decisions about the management of Atlantic Menhaden – arguably one of the most important fish in the sea.

Two keys decisions were up for discussion:

1.) What to set the Atlantic Menhaden catch limit at. Or, in other words, how many Menhaden should the fishery be allowed to take from the ocean.

2.) Whether managers should take a “big picture” or ecosystem-based approach to managing Atlantic menhaden. This means taking into account the important ecological role Menhaden play in the ocean as a key food source for many species.

The Menhaden fishing industry was pushing for an increase to the catch limit put in place back in 2012 to rebuild this species. Their reasoning being that the latest population assessment for Menhaden indicates it is in a better state than it was a few years ago, so they should be allowed to take more fish from the sea. The Menhaden fishery is the largest on the U.S. East Coast. The majority of Menhaden (80%) are ground up for use in fish oil dietary supplements, fertilizers, and animal feed. This industry is controlled by a single company, Omega Protein. The remaining 20% of the Menhaden catch is used by commercial fishermen for bait.

Ocean conservationists, recreational anglers, and eco-tourism businesses were more concerned about whether managers would leave enough Menhaden in the ocean to support its vast array of predators. Menhaden provide food for several important recreational and commercial fish, such as striped bass, weakfish, cod, and bluefin tuna, seabirds like osprey and eagles, and whales. Menhaden, along with other small prey fish, are the glue that holds the ocean ecosystem together. More than 10,000 people wrote to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission prior to the meeting pushing for a big picture approach, urging them tonot increase the Menhaden catch limit until they account for the needs of its predators.