Beyond Bait

Photo credit: Paul Dixon

Menhaden are also the most heavily commercially fished species in the nation, though you will never see it on a menu or in a fish market. Billions are ground up and used in products such as fertilizer, pet food, and cosmetics. More individual menhaden are caught each year than any other fish species, and they are second only to Alaskan pollock when measured by pounds harvested.
         That commercial harvest could be costing sportfish a valuable food source. Unfortunately for the "most important fish in the sea," current management of menhaden stocks does not account for their critical role in the marine food chain. As a result, menhaden are managed in a way that puts gamefish populations, and our recreational fishing opportunities, at risk.
         However, anglers now have a brief window to speak up for improvements to the immediate and future management of menhaden, which would benefit sportfishing, water quality, and coastal communities.