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

 

We must keep the Arctic clean, wild and free!

Blog by Guest Post | November 17, 2014

By Professor Robert Spicer. Originally posted in the Ecologist. The Arctic is a special place, teeming with life, but it is under threat like never before, writes Robert Spicer – not just from climate change, but from oil drilling, industrial...

Caught Up in the Battle Against Congo’s Irresponsible Loggers

Blog by Amy Moas | November 13, 2014

“It’s too far away”, “there’s nothing to see or do there”, “it’s too hard to get to…” The reasons people find to avoid the long journey to some of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s many remote forested areas are numerous. Multinational logging...

US and China’s historic new climate deal: 5 things you need to know

Blog by Kelly Mitchell | November 12, 2014

Today, in a joint announcement with President Xi Jinping of China, President Obama announced the US would cut climate pollution 26-28% under 2005 levels by 2025, while President Xi announced China would peak emissions around 2030. Here’s a quick...

Greenpeace Joins Global Day of Action Against Violence in Mexico

Blog by Greenpeace Staff | November 12, 2014

Editor’s Note: This blog has been translated and adapted from a Greenpeace Mexico press release. Click here to read in the original Spanish. Mexico City- On Wednesday, November 5, Greenpeace Mexico joined a Global Day of Action to express our...

Timber investigation update: Activists confront container ship carrying Amazon timber

Blog by Daniel Brindis | November 6, 2014

Today, activists outside the port of Rotterdam, Netherlands confronted a container ship carrying Amazon timber from Rainbow Trading, a company we saw last month, in real time, accept illegal timber. Last month, Greenpeace Forest Crimes Unit...

7 breakthrough solar energy technologies — will they work?

Blog by Greenpeace Staff | November 5, 2014

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally written by Zachary Davies Boren for Greenpeace UK. Solar has always been the renewable energy sector’s prodigal son, with the potential to become the world’s largest resource. In the last few years it has...

Amateur Hour in the Arctic

Blog by Mark Floegel | November 5, 2014

Shell Oil (in a July letter  that remained undisclosed for three months) asked the Department of the Interior to disregard the ten-year time limit oil companies have under federal rules to “show progress” on an oil lease. Note that the standard...

#UnKoch Campus! Students Across U.S. Protest Corporate Influence

Blog by Connor Gibson | November 4, 2014

As students in Michigan, Kansas and Virginia attempt to pin down evasive administrators to review grant contracts cut between billionaire Charles Koch and their universities, one campus is working to tie these regional movements together. Photos...

From Florida to Oregon: State referendums you’ll want to follow on Election Day

Blog by Brian Johnson | November 3, 2014

With less than 24 hours till voting, we’ll spare you another analysis of which party will take the Senate and bring you something you’ve likely heard less about: the large number of state referendums on environmental issues. Greenpeace scoured...

1 - 10 of 4739 results.