East Coast fishery managers agreed Wednesday to bump up next year’s catch limit on Atlantic menhaden, a compromise that satisfied neither commercial fishing interests nor conservationists.

Meeting in Bar Harbor, Maine, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to allow a 6.5 percent increase in the harvest of menhaden, a little oily fish that no one eats but is the largest catch, by weight, in the Chesapeake Bay. They’re used to make animal meal and health supplements, and as bait to catch crabs, striped bass and other fish. But they’re also considered a vital link in the marine food chain, and a staple in the diet of striped bass and other predators. For all of those reasons, their management stirs intense passion.

The commission, which regulates near-shore fishing from Maine to Florida, had deadlocked in August over whether to raise the allowable menhaden catch next year. It began its final meeting of the year this week facing the need to set some limit, or there would be no cap at all in 2017.

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