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

 

Tackling deforestation – it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it

Blog by Zul Fahmi | February 5, 2015

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) had a history of greenwashing – remember its former Rainforest Realities website? When the company launched its zero deforestation pledge in early 2013, there were those who pointed to this history of making big promises...

We’re In A Hole. Let’s Stop Digging: Prevent fracked gas exports in Oregon

Blog by Guest Post | February 4, 2015

This guest blog was written by Lesley Adams of Waterkeeper Alliance in Talent, Oregon The world’s preeminent scientific body on climate change has stated that we have already taken up a huge amount of our global budget for greenhouse gas...

Greenpeace Podcast: Voting with your wallet. Is there an app for that?

Blog by Mary Ambrose | February 3, 2015

This month on the Greenpeace podcast: Detox your shopping. Vote with your wallet.  Is there an app for that? Is it true that Burt’s Bees – maker of those natural creams and lipsticks – isn’t owned by that avuncular character on the labels but by...

Repower Our Schools: 100% Renewable Energy Offers Schools Savings, Health and...

Blog by Monica Embrey | February 3, 2015

Imagine if every school in our country was powered by clean, affordable, renewable energy. Schools everywhere could have solar arrays on their roofs to power the classrooms, provide important learning opportunities for their students, and save...

Obama wants to sell stupidly expensive nuclear power to India

Blog by Jim Riccio | February 2, 2015

In today’s Washington Post, Stanford University’s Vivek Wadhwa wrote “Why Obama should stop pushing nuclear energy on India“. Greenpeace wholeheartedly agrees! The future of electricity production in the US around the globe isn’t nuclear; it’s...

One year since the Dan River coal ash spill, why Citizens United and solar policy are key

Blog by Monica Embrey | February 2, 2015

It’s been one year since Duke Energy’s Dan River power plant caused one of the worst coal ash disasters in U.S. history, spewing up to 39,000 tons of toxic coal ash across North Carolina and into Virginia. So where do things stand now? More than...

In pictures: APRIL’s unhappy anniversary

Blog by Greenpeace Staff | January 30, 2015

It’s been a year since Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL) released its latest ‘Sustainable Forest Management Plan’. The pulp & paper company asked critics to believe it was serious about the conservation of Indonesia’s forests and...

The Koch Primary (and what it means for climate)

Blog by Rachel Rye Butler | January 30, 2015

News leaked this week that the Koch brothers’ billionaire network plans to spend nearly $900 million in fossil fuel and other corporate money to try to get their way in the 2016 election– in other words, the Kochs and their cronies are planning...

Latest on the Arctic: Good news and bad news from the Obama administration

Blog by Greenpeace Staff | January 27, 2015

First, the good news. On Sunday, President Obama announced proposals for what so many environmental advocates have been waiting for: expanded protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), situated at the north end of Alaska. That...

Gregory Boyce retiring as Peabody CEO – how’d he do?

Blog by Joe Smyth | January 27, 2015

Last week Peabody Energy, the largest private coal mining company in the world, announced that its CEO Gregory Boyce would be stepping down in May, replaced by Glenn Kellow. Boyce leaves behind a record of environmental destruction, injustice to...

1 - 10 of 3148 results.