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Tiny Fish Swimming Toward Big Court Battle?

MenhadenIs the battle over the “most important fish in the sea” headed to court?

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has said he may take legal actions to push an Atlantic states regional fisheries management commission to create more protections for menhaden. These are small, oily fish that were called the “most important” fish by author H. Bruce Franklin because they feed so many other species of fish and filter the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways.

Doug gansler“In an ongoing effort to combat further environmental and economic damage to the Chesapeake Bay from the historic decline of Atlantic menhaden, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler…asked the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) -- the interstate body tasked with managing menhaden - to move quickly and adopt stronger menhaden protections,” according to a press release on Gansler’s website.

"’The ASMFC must rise to its responsibility and protect the Atlantic menhaden,’" Gansler said in the release.

Gansler is “considering going to court” if the interstate panel that regulates Atlantic coast fishing for menhaden doesn't cut back enough the catch of a Virginia-based fleet that takes the lion's share of the forage fish, The Baltimore Sun recently reported.

Omega Protein, out of Reedville, Virginia, runs the last remaining large-scale fleet on the East Coast that harvests menhaden in huge nets for industrial processing into food for fish and poultry, dietary supplements, and other commercial products.  Maryland and most other Eastern states (except for Virginia and North Carolina) have outlawed the harvest of menhaden for industrial processing. 

Menhaden are an important source of food for striped bass, a popular sportfish, as well as osprey, loons and dozens of other species in the Bay.

By Tom Pelton

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

 

Comments

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For the past few years I have joined those cheer leading for the protection of Menhaden.

In a restricted environment like the Chesapeake Bay, it is unfair to allow Omega to send out their large fleet of catch boats with aircraft spotters to scoop up almost all of the Menhaden that are on their way to Maryland waters. This modern fishing technology gives Omega the means to transfer
the public benefit of Menhaden into their own private profit. Their "reduction industry" transforms our very valuable filter and feeder fish into supplements, mainly for hog and chicken food. This VA company should be restricted.

This Menhaden "reduction industry" causes the Chesapeake Bay to suffer from many directions; loss of food for Striped Bass and many other fish;
loss of the (badly needed) Bay filtering capacity of the Menhaden; and the possible collapse of the Menhaden that are extremely valuable in their own right.

Attorney General Gansler thank you for standing up strong on this important issue.
Tom, thank you for your continued coverage.

Thanks, Bonnie!

I have always been astonished that Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, etc. etc. have had the foresight to outlaw industrial harvesting for menhaden -- but Virginia actively supports it.

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