The Menhaden Role In Fisheries

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Menhaden play an important ecological role on the Atlantic coast. Menhaden are filter feeders, feeding on both phytoplankton and zooplankton. The menhaden’s filter feeding also helps to limit algal blooms by removing excess nitrogen and phosphorous. It also helps clarify the water, allowing plats to grow. The plants release dissolved oxygen and harbor fish and shellfish (Franklin, 2001). They swim in large schools close to the water’s surface. Throughout the spring, the schools of younger, smaller fish are found in estuaries, such as the Chesapeake Bay, and the larger, older fish are found further offshore and up north. Menhaden also play an important role to the fisheries, especially along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Humans don’t actually…show more content…
To locate a school of fish, the companies use a spotter-plane. Once the plan has located the school it radios the location to a factory ship. This ship then releases to long boats to catch the school with a purse seine. The meshing on this net is too small for the juveniles to swim through, so the entire school gets caught. The populations are becoming so hard to find that fisheries are now catching the fish in estuaries, a place where the juveniles grow. There is also no ban on fishing them during certain seasons. This leads to the capture of pregnant females, and of juveniles. The population has declined so much that many fisheries have gone out of business. The reason I don’t think that the consumption from predators is why the population is declining so rapidly is the fact that these predators have been hunting these fish for hundreds of years. It wasn’t until humans came into the picture that the population started to shrink. The predators now have to compete with us for their food. The magnitude of over-fishing is often overlooked and the rapid growth in demand for fish and fish products is leading to fish prices…show more content…
There are several actions that could take place. The fisheries could start using larger meshing on their nets to allow the juveniles to swim through. This could allow them to grow, and reproduce. There could also be certain dates when these fish are not allowed to caught, such as during breeding season or when the juveniles are migrating back into the ocean. Quotas should be set on catches, based on scientific estimates for the size of the fish stock (Collins, 1997). Making the public more aware could be another way to help protect these species. Many people probably don’t even know what a menhaden is, or how important they are in the human food chain. These fish are prey for many bigger game fish, such as bass and bluefish. People tend to preserve things they have a better understanding
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