Written by Linc Bedrosian
Friday, 11 November 2011
It's not easy being you, is it, menhaden? You're a tiny fish, minding your own business as you swim around in the ocean and the next thing you know books are being written about you and you're deemed "the most important fish in the sea."
Yup. You, little menhaden, are a Big Fish On Campus. And so many seem to depend upon you. Labeled a forage fish, you are deemed highly important to the survival of other finfish, like striped bass, and birds like ospreys, brown pelicans and bald eagles. A story in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News this week stated, "Without menhaden, environmentalists say, the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay ecosystems would come crashing down."
Wow. No pressure there, little fella.
Humans don't have the same desire or need to snack on you. But that doesn't mean they leave you alone. They prize little ole you and your omega-3 fish oils. Sure, it keeps them healthy, but those oils aren't keeping you living longer, are they? They also use you to feed livestock and farm-raised fish, and fishermen use you as bait.
On the other hand, it appears lots of people want to keep your population numbers high. Some 91,000 letters about you were sent to the Atlantic States Marine Commission prior to its vote this week on how best to manage you. The commission voted 14-3 to cut the menhaden harvest for 2013 from 183,000 metric tons a year to 174,000 metric tons.
Does that news hearten you, menhaden? It pleased environmentalists (though probably not the folks at Omega Protein who have long fished Chesapeake Bay for you). Others aren't as sure you need quite as much protection. Check out the forthcoming January 2012 issue of National Fisherman, in which "Washington Lookout" columnists David Frulla and Shaun Gehan question the need to micromanage menhaden stocks.
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.Read more...