There was a big fight over a little fish Friday when the board that regulates Atlantic coast fishing reached a historic vote to reduce the catch of menhaden, widely called the most important fish in the sea.
Fearing that the oily menhaden is being overfished to near collapse by an industry that sells it worldwide for oil, animal feed and sport fishing bait, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to limit the total that can be harvested in a year to 170,800 metric tons, a 20 percent reduction in the average catch over the past three years.
Hundreds of fishermen, members of environmental groups, environmental activists and sport fishing enthusiasts crowded a hotel ballroom in Baltimore to witness the first-ever catch limit set for menhaden. In a half-century of overfishing, the stock has shown a dramatic decline — from 90 billion fish that were 1 year old or younger 50 years ago, to 18 billion that same age in 2010, according to the commission.
The 13 to 3 vote to rebuild the population was cheered by environmental groups and activists who dubbed menhaden the most important fish because it is a staple diet for large predator fish such as whales and porpoises, and large birds such as eagles and osprey.
But Virginia state marine officials and fishermen said it would devastate a fishing economy valued at $40 million, leading to job cuts at the state's menhaden processing plants in Reedville and down a long supply chain.
Read the full story at the Washington Post>>
National Fisherman Live: 12/16/14
In this episode, Bruce Buls, WorkBoat's technical editor, interviews Long Island lobsterman John Aldridge, who survived for 12 hours after falling overboard in the dead of night. Aldridge was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Pacific Marine Expo, which took place Nov. 19-21 in Seattle.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.