Help Save "The Most Important Fish in the Sea"

Send a message to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission today
in support of stronger conservation for menhaden, an important forage fish

The Situation

Take Action

Menhaden, a key food source for many popular sportfish – especially striped bass – are the most important fish in the sea according to noted historian and author H. Bruce Franklin. Unfortunately, menhaden stocks have declined 88 percent over the last 25 years and are at their lowest abundance in recorded history.

Commercial harvest continues

Despite growing concerns over the condition of the menhaden population, managers have allowed commercial harvest to continue at high levels, resulting in overfishing which seriously threatens some of the East Coast’s most prized recreational fisheries, including striped bass. In an effort to increase menhaden abundance and its availability as a forage species, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is in the process of establishing new population targets and fishing limits for the species.

Disease is taking its toll

The declining status of menhaden has taken on more significance with the increasing prevalence of Mycobacteriosis infections among striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay. There is growing evidence that a lack of suitable forage, notably menhaden, has stressed these important sportfish and made them particularly vulnerable to this fatal disease. Stronger conservation measures are required for the appropriate management of the menhaden fishery and will help bolster its population.

A management solution

The Commission has proposed several management alternatives, including a range of population target levels that are more in line with the standards set for other key forage fish. As commercial fishing continues to threaten the sustainability of Atlantic menhaden populations, stronger conservation measures are necessary to ensure the survival of this important forage fish and the sport fish that feed upon it.

Click here to send a message to the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission in support of stronger menhaden conservation measures. Comments are due by November 2, so take action today to conserve menhaden and the sport fish species that it supports.

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