And listen to this amazing, terrifying podcast at Electric Politics (h/t, SPK).
Menhaden is a species of fish that lives on the USA’s East Coast and the Gulf Coast. Menhaden are, according to “eminent literary expert and historian of American culture” Dr. H. Bruce Franklin, The Most Important Fish in the Sea. That’s the name of his book (available at Amazon).
In the podcast interview (and in his book) Franklin describes a fish that forms a linchpin of coastal ocean ecology. Decades ago, vast schools of menhaden filtered coastal waters to crystal clarity, while consuming enormous amounts of algae and then providing food for countless other animals.
Today the populations of menhaden have been reduced to a small fraction of their former vast numbers, and now a company called Omega Protein is rapidly fishing this species completely out of existence. As a result of their oceanic strip-mining, giant algal blooms are spreading, dying, then sinking to the bottom, eaten by anaerobic bacteria that deplete the water of all oxygen.
Now for a shocking (/snark) connection: Houston-based Omega Protein is a new name for an older company – Zapata Oil – George Bush the elder’s company! As you might expect from a Bush-run company, they have zero sense of environmental responsibility. Money is all that matters, and they don’t even care if they fish themselves right out of business, much less destroy all life in the waters of the Eastern Seaboard.
Above: Menhaden with their mouths open, busily filtering algae from the water. What thanks do they get? Everybody else eats them! (Photo: Gene Helfman)
Bluefish, tuna, bass, swordfish, crabs, sea birds, and some marine mammals feed furiously on menhaden because they are rich in omega3 fatty acids. Once the menhaden are gone, so too are all these animals.
On top of that, without menhaden to eat the algae, the water becomes cloudy (and sometimes toxic), which blocks sunlight to oxygen-producing plants like seaweed.
Even with all these negative repercussions, the outlook potentially is good. Menhaden is an incredibly fertile species. Because so many other species prey upon them, they breed very quickly, and so potentially they could re-stock themselves in a relatively short time. That is, if they aren’t driven to extinction.
The terribly bad news is that Omega Protein is a BushCo operation, thus they have installed the usual industry cronies in the fishery regulatory agency.
Bushes have this problem: They think they own the world, and nobody else has even a right to complain if they plunder the planet and leave a smoking ruin in their wake. It’s not just what they do; it’s what they are. The Bush family is worse than the Nazis; they’re the people who financed the Nazis.
Here’s some more information on menhaden, along with contact information:
Simply put, Omega Protein must stop harvesting menhaden for several years. We all know that you can’t trust Bushes to follow regulations (or – HA – to regulate themselves!). All we need to do is quit wiping out this species for a handful of years, and it will come back all on its own. BushCo doesn’t care, so we have to force the issue to keep the whole Eastern Seaboard from becoming one big dead zone. Add that to Psycho Smiley’s list of happy horrors.
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Most-Important-Fish-Sea-Menhaden/dp/1597261246
Chesapeake Bay fisheries management plan (FMP) is the document that caps fishing for particular species.
Believe it or not, a couple Republicans (Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland and Jim Saxton of New Jersey) have sponsored a complete ban on industrial fishing for menhaden, House Bills 3840 and 3841.
Useful Links: Some of these actually took some googling…
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
http://www.asmfc.org/ (lotsa good links here!)
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
Hey, there’s a photo of all those nice people!
2007 review of compliance for menhaden fishery 8-pg pdf.
Here’s some news about recent congressional legislation and who is involved: