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


Fighting back against Mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia

Blog by Daile Boulis | June 10, 2014

I was catching up on Facebook when I saw a post from a local news station: “DEP Issues Mining Permit for Surface Mining Operation Located Near State Forest.” What really caught my eye was the attached graphic. My house is just to the left of the...

Why Greenpeace Supports Net Neutrality, and you should too

Blog by David Pomerantz | June 9, 2014

It’s 2017. A small environmental group wants to launch a new web site that empowers people to use their phones to find and report hidden sources of pollution in their communities. The online tools take the world by storm, allowing regular people...

Citizen Koch Film Finally Premiers in U.S. Cities After David Koch Censorship

Blog by Connor Gibson | June 6, 2014

A documentary is finally about to see the light of day, after being defunded and subject to de facto censorship thanks to the influence of billionaire David Koch of Koch Industries. Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s Citizen Koch examines how the...

John Oliver gives us the business on net neutrality

Blog by Cassady Sharp | June 6, 2014

You may wonder why an environmental organization like Greenpeace would care about the issue of net neutrality. We actually care about it a whole lot.  Organizations like Greenpeace use the Internet every second to engage people ready to take...

Beloved cartoon whale is dead from eating too much “plistuc’

Blog by Cassady Sharp | June 6, 2014

Greenpeace New Zealand and the creators behind the original Beached AZ Whale  launched a campaign to raise awareness about the risk plastic in the ocean poses to marine life. Plastic currently makes up 80 percent of debris in the ocean. World...

Russia releases Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in surprise move

Blog by Cassady Sharp | June 6, 2014

Russia’s investigative committee (IC) this morning informed Greenpeace International that it has annulled the arrest of the ship Arctic Sunrise, which has remained in custody in Murmansk since a high profile protest against Arctic oil drilling...

In the News: How Greenpeace is Pressuring Fortune 500 Companies to Change

Blog by Cassady Sharp | June 5, 2014

To make environmental change in the world, Greenpeace employs the tactic of “market-based campaigning.”  From candy bar companies to tissue giants, we identify how an industry is impacting the planet and what they have to do to change. Then we...

#ResetTheNet: Free yourself from government surveillance

Blog by Jason Schwartz | June 5, 2014

Let’s face it, governments and corporations are satisfied with the status quo. If the world is going to change for the better, we the people will have to organize our collective strength and get those in power to budge. As Gezi, Tahrir Square,...

What will be the impact of China’s proposed carbon emissions cap?

Blog by Li Shuo | June 4, 2014

China, the world’s biggest emitter of climate-changing greenhouse gases, may set an absolute cap on its CO2 emissions starting in 2016, according to sources quoted by Reuters. The move comes after a series of coal control measures driven by...

Interview: Greenpeace activist Justin D’Angona on being in Vogue (and other things)

Blog by Jason Schwartz | June 4, 2014

Justin D’Angona is serious Greenpeace. He is the senior city coordinator of Greenpeace USA’s LA Frontline office and was the coordinator of Greenpeace Semester. It seems he’s also seriously cool — enough that Italian Vogue, the premier fashion...

81 - 90 of 4655 results.