Menhaden may not be the biggest, most beautiful or most exotic fish in the sea, but they can claim one superlative: most important.
Now, thanks to the efforts of our friends at the Pew Environment Group, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Center for Biological Diversity — and tens of thousands of Care2 members — on Dec.15, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted to impose a catch limit on the species.
Menhaden are a crucial food source for lots of more recognizable marine life, like tuna, whales, dolphins, cod and even birds like eagles and osprey. But they also support the east coast’s largest fishery and are caught and sold for bait, fertilizer and fish-oil supplements. As the menhaden population dropped precipitously — 90 percent in the last three decades according to Pew — marine ecosystems from Maine to Florida were put at risk.
“Today the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission listened to the science and the public in taking a historic step to end overfishing of Atlantic menhaden,” Peter Baker, the director of the Northeast fisheries program for the Pew Environment Group, said in a press release.
ASMFC’s new rules call for a 25 percent reduction from the 2011 menhaden catch next year and and overall cut of 20 percent. This is the first catch limit ever imposed on the species and a huge win for environmentalists, marine-lovers, and — believe it or not — fishermen who need the species to survive so they can make a living.
Care2 members have been fighting for the little fish for more than a year. In 2011, more than 46,000 Care2 members convinced ASMFC to commit to catch limits and other measures to save the species. But we didn’t let up there. We kept up the pressure on the commission to make sure they followed through with their promise and made a smart, science-based plan.
Thank you for being part of this big win!