Thursday, August 22, 2013

IMPORTANT POST- Menhaden Fishery in Chesapeake Bay

If you take the time to read one of my blog posts, MAKE IT THIS ONE! I would like to explain what is happening to the Chesapeake Bay's most important fish before our very eyes with Omega Protein and their strong political backing. Omega has been charged/fined for dumping illegal oily bilge in the bay (last time to the tune of around 75 million dollars), are removing ton after ton of baitfish from the bay along with whatever else gets caught in their nets, and have been restricted from almost all US waters on the East Coast except VA due to supporting YOUR local elected officials with over $140,000 in campaign funds over a five year period.

They are literally sucking up every last Menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay. Why is this important to you?

A few facts:
  • Menhaden are a valuable food source for a wide variety of fish including striped bass, bluefish, summer flounder, and weakfish; also for marine mammals and many sea birds including ospreys, pelicans, and loons.

  • Menhaden feed massive amounts of plankton, filtering it from the water helping to prevent red tides/ algae blooms and improve water quality/clarity.

  • 65% annual removal/harvest rate for adult menhaden from East Coast waters

  • When comparing the current Atlantic menhaden population against historical levels, there is only 8% left of what used to roam the bay.

  • According to the benchmark, menhaden are currently being overfished, and overfishing occurred in 32 of the last 54 years.
A guy I know who goes by Jet Ski Brian was out this past weekend and took these pictures of how the operation runs. First a plane flys around in circles over the bay looking for a school of menhaden. Once spotted he radios to the fleet waiting somewhat close by.

The ships move into the area where the fish  were spotted while the plane circles to keep an eye on the school. The mother ship then deploys 2 smaller vessels.  These two boats circle the entire school of fish (1000's) with a purse seine net.
Once the pull the net tight, the mothership pulls up and sticks a big vacuum in the water and sucks up every fish in their net, gamefish included, and load them into the boat. Then it's off to the next school.

The saddest part is that these fish are then ground up and used as chicken feed, cat food, and for fish oil pills. Think about that when you take that daily supplement of fish oil. If this bothers you as much as it does me, take the time to repost this somewhere, tell a friend, wirte a congressman, whatever you can do to spread the word and let's end this unneccesary waste of a KEY PIECE of our Chesapeake Bay Eco-system.
Photos provided by Brian Lockwood
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