Menhaden Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico

We should all be concerned about t he menhaden fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.   You may ask why?  Four big reasons jump out right away.

  1. 1 billion pounds of menhaden are caught per year in the Gulf of Mexico.  That’s a heck of a lot of little fish
  2. Menhaden are filter feeders and remove the material that causes dead zones in the Gulf.  At a historical abundance, menhaden could filter the entire outflow of the Mississippi River 34x over.
  3. Bycatch allowances are staggering.  It is just 5% of the catch but when the catch is 1.2 billion pounds, that equates to 60 million pounds of redfish, trout, and various other gamefish.
  4. Menhaden are the basis of the food web.  Everything eats them.  A stable menhaden population is a foundation for a healthy food web.

 

 Image by Capt Mike Frenette originally published in SportFishing Magazine Oct 2, 2017  Dead discards from bycatch from menhaden fishing.  Dead bull reds lining the beach

There are so many pressures on the Gulf of Mexico.  We have a dead zone the size of New Jersey, our marsh is disappearing, and nutrients are flowing into our waters at an unprecedented rate.   We have to question the validity of removing 1.2 billion pounds per year of a little fish that could potentially help us so much.

In the beginning of November, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission with decide if menhaden should be managed for their ecological significance or continue the current single species management.

We will update you on the conclusions of that meeting as details become available.  Our resources can only take so much and menhaden are the cornerstone of a healthy Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

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