Getting to Know the James River
Photo of the Week: Corrotoman Cormorants

This Week in the Watershed: A Forgotten Fish

Menhaden photo from EPR
Despite their critical link in the food web, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission raised the menhaden catch quota this week. Photo by CBF Staff.

They might not be a common feature on dinner plates, but menhaden are often called "the most important fish in the sea." A small, oily fish packed with nutritional value, menhaden are a critical link in the marine food web. Valuable fish like rockfish rely heavily on menhaden as do whales, osprey, and other marine mammals and seabirds. Despite their critical role in the Bay's ecology, menhaden face an uncertain future.

In 2012, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission cut the menhaden catch quota by 20 percent. Just last year the quota was raised 10 percent, and this week, another 6.5 percent.

As with all fisheries management, science should be at the foundation in all decision making. And with a fishery as critical as menhaden, managing the long-term sustainability of the species should include considerations for their ecological role in addition to the economic value. With the Atlantic menhaden population at eight percent of historic levels and the science still out on taking their ecological value fully into account, now is not the time to increase the quota even further.

Saving the bay involves not only cleaning the water but ensuring the wildlife that depends on it are thriving. With the full implementation of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, and responsible, science-based fisheries management, we can leave a healthy Chesapeake Bay to future generations.

This Week in the Watershed: An Important Fish, Kicking Cans, and Spooky Forests

  • Advocates for menhaden, often dubbed "the most important fish in the sea," received unwelcome news, when it's quota was increased 6.5 percent. (Bay Journal) Bonus: CBF Statement
  • The push to address stormwater runoff in the Keystone state faces several major roadblocks. (Bay Journal)
  • The controversial Four Seasons development on Maryland's Kent Island is still facing legal resistance. (Star Democrat—MD)
  • We couldn't agree more with this editorial lampooning the decision to kick the can down the road on stormwater pollution reduction efforts in Maryland's Anne Arundel County. (Capital Gazette—MD)
  • Wetland scientists are studying the increasing prevalence of what they call "ghost forests"—forests that have been overtaken by sea level rise. (Daily Press—VA)
  • Pennsylvania has plans for cleaning its rivers and streams, but some are questioning whether they are providing the necessary funding to bring their plans to life. (Lancaster Farming—PA)
  • With millions of dollars spent on stream restoration projects throughout the watershed, some are questioning the efficacy of the investment. (Bay Journal)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

October 29

  • Woodsboro, MD: Help CBF plant over 1,000 trees and shrubs along Israel Creek on a beef cattle farm in Frederick County. Approximately 5,000 feet of stream banks will be planted resulting in six acres of riparian buffer. Israel Creek is in the Monocacy River watershed which flows to the Potomac River then to the Chesapeake Bay. Click here to register!

November 3

  • Easton, MD: Oyster season is here, and whether or not you're a fan of eating the Bay's beloved bivalve, you've probably noticed a growing number of farmed oyster varieties available in local seafood markets and restaurants on the Eastern Shore. There's no denying that oyster farming, also known as "aquaculture," is on the rise in Maryland. Join us for a forum on this rising trend to learn more about oyster aquaculture from experts in the field. The event is free, but click here to register!

November 5

  • Smithsburg, MD: Join CBF at this recently completed stream restoration project on Little Antietam Creek and help us with the final stages of restoring the stream banks and floodplain. Volunteers will install live stakes consisting of willow cuttings as well as native trees and shrubs.  Learn about stream restoration techniques used throughout the region by touring this recently completed project and lend your hand for the final touches. Click here to register!

November 6

  • Annapolis, MD: Join approximately 25,000 runners and walkers crossing the 4.35-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge as part of the third annual Across the Bay 10k. The dual-span bridge doesn’t allow pedestrian traffic at any other time of the year, so this is a unique opportunity—and the view is amazing! CBF is an official charity partner of the Across the Bay 10K, and we are excited to offer Charity Bibs as part of that partnership. It's a get a guaranteed entry into the race and help save the Bay with a donation to CBF! Get your charity bib now!

November 12

  • Virginia Beach, VA: Volunteer with CBF at Calypso Bar & Grill! We will be celebrating our favorite bivalve, the oyster, with an oyster roast. Volunteers are needed to help recycle the oyster shells, pour beverages, and take tickets. A portion of the proceeds will help CBF in its work to save the Bay! To volunteer, please email or call Tanner Council at or 757-622-1964.

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Laura McFarland

We always called Menhaden Moss Bunker where I came from.
This is the fish I always used to go crabbing.

The comments to this entry are closed.