Delaware votes to protect menhaden
December 14, 2012 was a big day for Atlantic menhaden. The Delaware representatives to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission joined in a historic vote to protect this small fish from future overfishing.
For the very first time, a coast-wide catch limit (Total Allowable Catch) was implemented for Atlantic menhaden, which have suffered in recent years from overfishing for the "fish reduction industry", which makes cosmetics, paints, industrial lubricants, animal feed and Omega 3 vitamin supplements from this small forage fish.
The population of Atlantic menhaden is at an all time low, at only 8% of known historic levels. This places the entire food web of the Atlantic coast at risk, including the predators that we enjoy as commercial fisheries (including striped bass and tuna), as well as whales and dolphins.
A broad coalition of menhaden conservationists attended the meeting to show their support for this important fish, including environmental groups, recreational fishermen, sport fishermen, and scientists.
By adopting a 20% reduction in overall fishing, the Commission has taken a first important step in restoring this collapsed fishery.
The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club has submitted substantial comments and analysis throughout this process to improve fisheries management for Atlantic menhaden.