Menhaden: Most Important Fish?

Pogies being pumped into industrial menhaden ship. Photo courtesy of Bob Williams/NOAA.Help protect Gulf pogies by attending the public meeting of the Menhaden Advisory Committee March 18th, from 8:30 AM to Noon at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon St in New Orleans. These small forage fish are vacuumed up in vast quantities (on average over 1 billion pounds per year from the Gulf) by factory ships and then reduced in factories for farm feed and fish oils. Despite the concerns over how removing this important forage fish from the ecosystem impacts other species, there are few limits and little monitoring on the menhaden industry. Come to the meeting and tell the Gulf States Marines Fisheries Commission to pay more attention to the effects of this industry!To RSVP, emailHarry@healthygulf.orgor go to ourFacebook event.Dolphins, pelicans, bluefin tuna, and sports fish of all types all thrive on menhaden, also known in the Gulf as pogy. These bony, oily, stinky fish are a big source of food for many other species in the Gulf, and if you eat fin fish from the Gulf you are probably indirectly consuming menhaden. Gulf menhaden, which grow quickly to maturity in two years at around 10 inches and weighing half a pound, are filter fish the thrive on plankton. Each filters 4 gallons of water per minute. They congregate in giant “bait balls” and when attacked by predators, go into a frenzy that makes it hard for the predator to focus on one fish. However, this has made the entire school vulnerable to spotter planes and factory ships that first surround them with nets and then vacuum the school into their holds. They are then “reduced” to oils, meal and solids. Read more about this issue from theRecirculating Farms Coalition’s Fact Sheet.This cartoon does a great job of summing up the problem. You can also learn morein this article.Harry Lowenburg is GRN’s Fisheries Restoration Organizer.

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