Friday is a big day for a small but important fish, Atlantic menhaden.
This oily, bony critter so important to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and lucrative commercial fisheries has suffered dramatic population declines over the past few decades. Friday, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which manages the coastwide menhaden population, will decide what to do about this alarming situation.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and other conservation groups strongly support reducing the catch of menhaden to help restore "the most important fish in the sea." You can help ensure the commission makes the right decision and adopts science-based, sustainable catch limits that will give menhaden a chance to recover.
How? Join CBF at the commission meeting in Baltimore this Friday to demonstrate your support for the fish that forms the critical link in the coastal and Chesapeake Bay food chain (menhaden are essential prey for highly prized fish, birds, and marine mammals).
E-mail Terry Cummings at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. today (Tuesday, Dec. 11) to reserve a seat on a chartered bus to the meeting site, the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center, 5625 O’Donnell Street in Baltimore. The bus will be leaving at 7:15 a.m. Friday from the Riva Road Park-n-Ride in Annapolis, Md., with two return shuttles, one at lunch and one at 3 p.m. The bus ride is free, and free breakfast and lunch will be provided.
Of course, you can also arrange your own transportation, but please let Cummings know if you plan to
join the group in Baltimore.
You’ll be among the thousands of people who already have made their voices heard. During the commission’s formal public comment period that closed last month, a record 128,333 comments were sent to the commission, testament to the huge public interest in protecting menhaden. An overwhelming majority of the comments urged stricter harvest limits to restore the population.
Among the comments were letters from groups and associations, including East Coast businesses, scientists, and birding groups calling for tougher menhaden catch restrictions. One letter came from 37 small businesses in Virginia urging Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to ensure the commission’s menhaden decision is implemented in Virginia. That’s because whatever the commission decides on Friday must be approved by the Virginia legislature.
If you care about striped bass, bluefish, summer flounder, weakfish, sharks, dolphin, whales, ospreys, loons, pelicans, and other fish, birds, and mammals in the marine ecosystem, you have to care about menhaden. And if you care about menhaden, try to be in Baltimore Friday.
A strong conservation decision by the commission could be the best holiday gift that menhaden, the Bay, and all who love it ever receive.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation