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

 

Eric and Lonnie set course to change the

Image | May 8, 2005 at 19:00

Eric and Lonnie set course to change the world.

The Verdict is in for Greenpeace Protesters in Spain

Feature story | May 3, 2005 at 18:00

Do people who peacefully protested against the illegal war in Iraq deserve to be branded criminals and thrown in jail? Fortunately, a Spanish judge agreed with Greenpeace: no.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive: Companies Answer Pleas to Curb Global Warming

Feature story | May 3, 2005 at 18:00

The 2000 Sydney Olympics made for some memorable moments. Cathy Freeman brought home gold for Australia - the first Aboriginal Olympian to do so. Ian Thorpe, nicknamed "the Thorpedo," broke his own world record to win the 400m freestyle. ...

Bob Hunter

Feature story | May 1, 2005 at 18:00

Perhaps more than anyone else, Bob Hunter invented Greenpeace. His death marks the passing of a true original, one of the heroes of the environmental movement.

Greenpeace activist

Image | April 27, 2005 at 19:00

Greenpeace activist, Ginger, discusses Kimberly-Clark's forest destruction practices with a consumer.

This tissue box

Image | April 27, 2005 at 19:00

This tissue box-shaped truck illustrates that Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kleenex tissue products, is wiping away ancient forests.

Freedom for the seas for now and for the future

Publication | April 27, 2005 at 18:00

Current high seas oceans management is fundamentally flawed. It is creating the biggest unseen and potentially irreversible environmental disaster of our time. Marine biodiversity is being unsustainably plundered because of legal gaps and the...

Kimberly-Clark: Investing in Forest Destruction

Publication | April 25, 2005 at 18:00

A report on the world's largest manufacturer of tissue products, green consumerism and socially responsible investment.

Greenpeace USA Executive Director John Passacantando

Image | April 25, 2005 at 18:00

Greenpeace USA Executive Director John Passacantando with Project Thin Ice explorers Eric Larsen and Lonnie Dupre of the One World Expedition and tennis pro turned broadcaster John McEnroe in New York April 26, 2005

4231 - 4240 of 4754 results.