Nice to Hear from You!
• Menhaden are a valuable food source for a wide variety of
fish including striped bass, bluefish, summer flounder, and
weakfish; also for marine mammals and many sea birds
including ospreys, pelicans, and loons.
• Menhaden have declined dramatically in the diet of striped
bass, and poor nutrition has been linked to striper disease.
• Menhaden feed by filtering plankton (tiny plants and animals) from the water.
The Menhaden Population is in Trouble
• The best available science (called a “benchmark stock
assessment”) by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
Commission has shown that the menhaden population is at
its lowest recorded level.
1965 1960 1955
JOHN SURRICK/CBF STAFF
2010 2005 2000 1995 1990 1985 1980 1975 1970
(billions of fish)
Your Questions about Menhaden
Menhaden have become a regular fixture in Save the Bay, from
our critter feature in Spring 2010 to this issue’s President’s
Message (page 2).
Discussion over the management of this “most important fish in
the sea” has increased, and so have your questions. In response,
I offer the following information which has been excerpted from a
CBF fact sheet, available in its entirety at cbf.org/menhaden.
—Loren Anne Barnett
Commercial fishermen catch menhaden using spotter planes and large
purse seine nets. Here, a vaccum hose transfers fish to a boat.
• The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s benchmark assessment has been validated by an independent
peer review of fisheries scientists.
• According to the benchmark, menhaden are experiencing overfishing, and overfishing occurred in 32 of the last 54 years.
• The menhaden population currently is only eight percent of
what it would be if there were no pressure from fishing, and the
independent scientists urged steps to boost the population.
The Most Important Fish in the Sea
Menhaden have been called “the most important fish in the
sea” because of the critical roles they play in the ecosystem of
Atlantic coastal waters.
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