Menhaden have been called "the most important fish in the sea". Menhaden are a small, bony fish considered inedible by humans but incredibly important in the diets of many other critters people care passionately about – striped bass, weakfish, summer flounder, dolphin, whales, ospreys, loons, pelicans, and sea birds.
The Menhaden population has plummeted to record-low numbers in the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic coast --- down to about 8% of their unfished levels.
What to do about it is now in the hands of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and its 15 member states. If you live in an East Coast state and care about “the most important fish in the sea,” contact your state governor and urge that your state adopt the commission’s plan.
This is especially important if you’re a Virginian. Unlike other East Coast states, in Virginia the protection (or lack of it) of menhaden is up to the members of the state General Assembly, making menhaden the only fishery in Virginia managed by politicians, not scientists.
Urge Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to ensure the legislature adopts the commission’s plan to protect this little but most important fish.