Make Efforts to Protect Menhaden Fishery
Atlantic menhaden are central to the Chesapeake Bay’s food chain and support one of the largest commercial fisheries on the Atlantic coast. These small, nutrient-packed fish are critical forage food for predatory fish such as rockfish (striped bass), weakfish, and bluefish, predatory birds such as ospreys, and marine mammals, and also act as a filter feeder, filtering up to seven gallons of water each minute. The Bay is one of the most important nurseries for menhaden, helping to sustain the population along the Atlantic coast.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) currently allows 51,000 metric tons of menhaden, or 250 million fish, to be taken from the Bay each year, to the detriment of the Bay ecosystem, and without the legally required data or research to determine the extent of negative impacts to the Bay. Of this 51,000 metric tons, 90% of the entire menhaden harvest is given to a single reduction fishing company that fishes largely in or near the mouth of the Bay. This company operates the sole remaining menhaden reduction facility on the U.S. East Coast in Virginia. The company reduces (cooks and grinds up) the fish for a variety of uses, such as nutritional supplements, food additives, and feed for livestock and fish farms.
The tens of thousands of Virginians and Marylanders who have demanded that the VMRC follow Virginia law and protect this critical species are being ignored. Help us make our collective voices heard.
Read more about the massive threat that menhaden reduction fisheries pose to Bay sportfish and wildlife by clicking here.
Support our efforts to protect the Menhaden fishery BY MAKING A DONATION HERE.