Menhaden (aka Bunker, Pogy)are, without a doubt, the single most important fish in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. These oily little filter feeders swim in schools so large that they can be seen by aircraft. The primary job of this species is to convert plankton and algae into a package that predators can easily eat And the predators are numerous, including birds, striped bass, tuna, sharks, seals,dolphins and whales. This is where the phrase "The most important fish in the sea" originates. Without abundant menhaden along our coastlines, the ocean wildlife will suffer.
Most Americans have never heard of a menhaden, when in fact the menhaden reduction fishery is the second largest commercial fishery in the United States. A single company catches billions of these fish per year which they grind up into fish meal and fish oil. Omega protein Inc/Cooke USA Inc, spends a fortune annually on political influence, attorney fees and advertising to bolster harvests and increase profits. For the past 30 + years, they have aggressively attacked any new conservation or ecosystem-based management regulations. That’s why Menhaden Defenders needs your help to put an end to this antiquated industry and implement conservative management techniques to make sure that these fish are able to repopulate historic ranges to become plentiful and abundant once again.
Atlantic menhaden stocks have declined dramatically over the past 60 years due to sustained industrialized fishing practices. The commercial menhaden fishery is made up of two sectors, a reduction fishery (grinding bunker up for fish meal and fish oil) that comprises approximately 80 percent of landings, and a bait fishery that harvests the remaining 20 percent. Our mission is to not only rebuild the bunker stocks coast wide and in the gulf, but to also keep the pressure on the ASMFC to implement ecosystem based catch limits so that Omega protein fishes sustainably, with moderation so that our coastal ecosystems and economies can flourish.
Cape Cod MA: