Help Us Save the “Most Important Fish In the Sea”

Oct 7, 2011 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

You’ve probably never seen Atlantic menhaden on a restaurant menu, and maybe you’ve never even heard of this little fish. But Atlantic menhaden, which have been called the “most important fish in the sea,” need your help.

Atlantic menhaden (Photo credit: Phillip Jones, courtsey of South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)

Atlantic menhaden are small, oily fish that are an important food for striped bass, bluefish, tuna, whales, porpoises, seabirds, and many other wildlife – but they are also caught for use as lobster bait or in a variety of consumer products such as pet food and fish oil supplements. While menhaden used to be abundant along the east coast of the United States, overfishing has resulted in the population dropping to a historic low. A declining menhaden population is detrimental to the marine ecosystems and predators that depend on this fish and to New England’s coastal economies, whose commercial and recreational businesses rely on the fish that prey on menhaden.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), a deliberative body made up of representatives from the coastal Atlantic states that coordinates the conservation and management of the states’ shared fishery resources (including menhaden), recently took an important first step to protect the menhaden population by laying out a plan to increase the number left in the ocean and preserve the marine ecosystems that depend upon this important fish. The ASMFC will meet in November to vote on the plan – so the time to make your voice heard in support of protection for menhaden is now. Click here to send a message to the ASMFC urging it to approve actions to protect menhaden from overfishing and restore the population to healthy levels.

Make your voice heard, and help us save the “most important fish in the sea.”