Atlantic menhaden are one of the most important fish on the Atlantic coast and feed a wide range of marine predators. They were once abundant from Maine to Florida but are now concentrated in the Chesapeake Bay region, where they are subject to intense industrial fishing pressure. They are ground up for fish meal and fertilizer or used for bait. Before considering any changes to the 2015 catch limit, managers need to address the impact that a catch increase would have on predators.
Menhaden provide food for many fish, such as striped bass and bluefish, as well as wildlife, including osprey and whales. These menhaden predators are important for recreational fishing and support lucrative businesses, but many are depleted. Over the years, anglers and environmental groups have worked together to protect menhaden because of their ecological value. The ASMFC needs to know that numerous people care about conservation of this forage fish and want the commission to leave millions of menhaden in the ocean this year, and in the future, to feed fish and other predators.