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.
That’s why these fish are often called the “most important fish in the sea.
Most Americans have never heard of a menhaden, when in fact the even though it is menhaden reduction fishery is the second largest commercial fishery in the continental United States. A single company uses spotter planes and chase boats to catches billions of these fish per year. The menhaden are then “reduced” which they grind up into fish meal and fish oil for sale on a global commodities market for about eight cents a pound. Omega protein Inc/Cooke USA Inc, spends a fortune annually on political lobbying influence, attorney fees and advertising to bolster harvests and increase profits. For the past 30 + years, the company has aggressively attacked any new conservation rule, including a recent limit on how many fish can be caught in the Chesapeake Bay.
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.