The saying goes that "looks can be deceiving," and it's an accurate expression for the menhaden fish. This little fish plays a powerful role in the undersea world. The menhaden may be near the bottom of the food chain, but it supports many species from popular sport fish all the way up to Atlantic whales. And if the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean are where the menhaden call home, this little fish could win the Good Housekeeping Award. That's because the menhaden is a filter-feeder, meaning it cleans impurities in the water. That's crucial to the Chesapeake Bay, where water pollution from farm and sewage runoff is creating increasingly severe problems for the bay and its inhabitants.

But this hard-working little fish is disappearing fast, and its job in the food chain is irreplaceable.

Finding Nemo: What happens to a little fish sucked out of its environment?

The menhaden is not only a small fish, but it's also rather bony - not exactly appetizing for most people. But there is an enormous fishing operation sucking millions of these little fish out of coastal waters every year. In fact, menhaden make up America's second largest fishery. So, if people aren't eating the menhaden, why is this little fish being targeted?

The Omega Protein company vacuums massive quantities - hundreds of thousands of tons - of menhaden through state-of-the-art factory fishing vessels that locate entire schools of these tiny fish. The company then processes menhaden for use as protein supplements and fishmeal.

Ironically, much of Omega's fishmeal is sold to feed livestock or fish farms - uses that harm marine ecosystems and threaten fishing communities. In fact, one of the main uses for Omega's fishmeal is as chicken feed, adding to the high-nutrient wastes already choking many bays and estuaries - including the Chesapeake.  Runoff from chicken farms is also connected to the outbreak of toxic algae in the mid-Atlantic region. Omega fishmeal is also used as food for large-scale fish farms, which privatize the oceans and threaten wild fish stocks and traditional fisheries through pollution and parasitic infestations, among other dangers. Most of the remaining fishmeal goes into pet food. 

Menhaden populations today are at near record lows, and there are reports that some of their predators are starting to go hungry. The time to act is now, before the tiny menhaden is lost forever.

Latest Update

Fishing Cap Nixxed to Appease Big BusinessRead the full story.

The latest updates

 

The Carbon Kingpins’ War on Democracy

Blog by Charlie Cray | September 26, 2014

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt set off a rush to the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) exit doors by other companies this week because, as he put it, ALEC has been “literally lying” about climate change and his company wants nothing...

Which of your household products are genetically engineered?

Blog by Elena Keates | September 26, 2014

Genetically modified organisms and byproducts are not just found in food. They may be in your home right now; in your household cleaners, cosmetics, scents, flavorings, or medications. You’d know if you were buying genetically engineered...

Supreme Court Order Kills Essar’s Plans

Blog by Guest Post | September 26, 2014

Guest post from environmental activist Akshey Kalra If you haven’t heard so far, the Supreme Court of India cancelled 214 coal blocks allocated to private companies since 1993, deeming them illegal. And one of these coal blocks brings us to the...

The Soya Moratorium is protecting the Amazon. Does Cargill still support it?

Blog by Daniel Brindis | September 25, 2014

 Cargill just pledged to protect the world’s forests – but an eight-year truce that protects the Amazon from soya farming is in trouble. Cargill is one of the largest commodities traders on the planet. It buys and sells all sorts of things,...

Yahoo dumps ALEC climate deniers, joining the exodus

Blog by David Pomerantz | September 24, 2014

Yahoo just announced that it has become the fifth company in the past few months to confirm that it is ending its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, the notorious climate denying lobby group that has attacked clean...

A Student Perspective on the People’s Climate March

Blog by Guest Post | September 24, 2014

Guest post by University of North Carolina Chapel Hill student Brian Vaughn In a defining moment in the history of the movement against human caused climate change, 400,000 people made their presence known at the People’s Climate March on Sunday...

Aerial Video: Immense Crowd at People’s Climate March

Blog by Connor Gibson | September 23, 2014

Here’s a nice, shot, submitted to Democracy Now! by an anonymous pilot of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV – a.k.a. “drone”). Attendance estimates at the People’s Climate March officially range from 125,000-311,000, according to different...

Climate action – who is stopping us?

Blog by Kumi Naidoo | September 23, 2014

The world has changed since our leaders discussed climate change in 2009. It has become even more evident; ravaging crops in Africa, melting ice in the Arctic, drowning the Philippines and drying-up California. The poor are paying the highest...

Greenpeace Delivers People’s Message on Eve of Climate Summit

Blog by Molly Dorozenski | September 23, 2014

Early Tuesday morning, after hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of New York to demand climate action over the weekend, Greenpeace projected the message “Listen to the People, Not the Polluters” on the side of the United Nations...

Exceptional Times Require Exceptional Leaders. We Won’t Take No for an Answer.

Blog by Guest Post | September 22, 2014

By  Commissioner of the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission Yeb Sano & Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo Originally posted to Huffington Post  The Arctic, perhaps more than any other place on Earth right now, is a...

21 - 30 of 4709 results.