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

 

NRC letter to Greenpeace page 2

Publication | May 31, 2004 at 18:00

NRC letter to Greenpeace page 1

Publication | May 31, 2004 at 18:00

Chemical Industry vs. Public Interest: Redefining the Public Debate on Chemical Security

Publication | May 31, 2004 at 18:00

This 2004 "No More Bhopals Alliance" report challenges the American Chemistry Council's June 2004 "2nd Annual Chemical Security Summit."

Bureau of Land Management: Our Ancient Forests under the Freewheeling Axe

Feature story | May 27, 2004 at 18:00

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an arm of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and directly controls over 261 million acres of publicly-owned lands across 12 western states. Due to its pro-timber agenda, it is often referred to as the...

Nuclear Energy, No Solution to Climate Change

Publication | May 26, 2004 at 18:00

The nuclear industry is in near-terminal decline world-wide, following its failure to establish itself as a clean, cheap, safe or reliable energy source. The on-going crisis in nuclear waste management, in safety and in economic costs has...

Concerned Citizens from the U.S. and Mexico Demand a Stop to LNG Project

Feature story | May 25, 2004 at 18:00

A day after a major protest in Mexico, Greenpeace, members of the Ratepayers for Affordable Clean Energy coalition (RACE) and Mexican community activists visited the Sempra Energy headquarters to bring their message straight to the horse's mouth,...

ExxonMobil: The Day is Today-- Stop Global Warming!

Feature story | May 24, 2004 at 18:00

On the eve of ExxonMobil's annual shareholder meeting in Dallas, Texas, we projected 100 foot images of floods, storms and other impacts of global warming on the building where shareholders will gather, warning that Exxon's policies on global...

Death by a Thousand Cuts: A Timeline of the Bush Administration's Pro-Logging Policies

Feature story | May 19, 2004 at 18:00

Take a look back at the Bush administration's actions that have endangered America's national forests.

How Green are Consumer Products?

Publication | May 16, 2004 at 18:00

Hazardous substances are commonly used as chemical additives in everyday consumer products such as electronic goods, clothing, cosmetics, cleaning products, interior decoration and furnishings. Greenpeace commissioned independent research into...

Read Updates from the Courtroom

Feature story | May 15, 2004 at 18:00

The case has been thrown out. Follow our weblog from Miami to get courtroom updates on the trial.

4351 - 4360 of 4618 results.