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

 

Rice at Risk: Will there be a choice with GE Rice?

Publication | September 30, 2004 at 18:00

Proponents of genetic engineering argue that "co-existence" of genetically engineered (GE, sometimes called genetic modified, GM or transgenic) and non-GE rice is possible.They argue that countries, and even neighbouring farmers, will be able to...

Greenpeace Forest Views: Fall 2004

Publication | September 30, 2004 at 18:00

A newsletter for customers and investors of Candadian logging companies.

Certifying Extinction? An Assessment of the Revised Standards of the Finnish Forest...

Publication | September 30, 2004 at 18:00

With this report, the undersigned Finnish environmental organisations want to emphasise the urgent need for better forest management and better protection for the remaining old-growth and high-conservation-value forests in Finland.

Miami college student Kierra Telfort joins

Image | September 28, 2004 at 19:00

Miami college student Kierra Telfort joins with Greenpeace and over one hundred of her neighbors to urge President Bush and Senator Kerry to invest in renewable energy.

There's No Debate About It: Clean Energy Now!

Feature story | September 28, 2004 at 18:00

On the eve of the first presidential debate in Miami Florida, we held a demonstration for clean energy. Supporters wrote messages on model windmills to be delivered to the candidates' Miami campaign headquarters. Send your own clean energy...

Clean Energy Now! Campus Guide

Publication | September 28, 2004 at 18:00

A how-to guide on stopping global warming by making your campus a leader in clean energy.

The orangutan's survival is threatened by illegal logging of ramin, its forest habitat.

Feature story | September 27, 2004 at 18:00

Expectant parents have a lot to worry about. Stocking up on diapers, painting the nursery, and preparing for long hours of sleep deprivation are only a few common concerns. The last thing they should have to think about is whether the crib...

15,000 chemical plants a ripe target for sabotage

Feature story | September 23, 2004 at 18:00

The following editorial appeared in the New York Times and Houston Chronicle

Kyoto Now

Feature story | September 22, 2004 at 18:00

The Russian Parliament has approved the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, bringing the global warming treaty into force and leaving the United States, the world's largest emitter of global warming pollution, in the dust. It's high time the Bush...

4261 - 4270 of 4621 results.