The fish called Menhaden (its American Indian name), a.k.a. bunkers, is crucial to the food-chain of the American East Coast, Gulf Coast, and southern New England. But it is deeply depleted. There’s a big fight going on now about fishing limits. And you can get informed and involved.
Here’s a note about the fish from my friend John. We learned to fish together when we were teen-agers, and last went fishing a couple of weeks ago. For 25 years he was a lobsterman in Long Island Sound. And he says:
I would love to see bunkers back to the level they were when we came on scene in the 70’s. In the mid 80’s, before they banned purse seining in LIS entirely, a fleet of Zapata-Heine seiners, with spotter planes, would come into the Sound in August and WIPE OUT the bunkers in a few days. I’d see a vessel steaming east in the morning, light, than the same vessel with the decks awash four hours later steaming west. After a few days of that, there wouldn’t be any more menhaden, or menhaden steamers.
T o defend what’s been called “the most important fish in the sea,” check out the National Coalition for Marine Conservation. Also see the book, The Most Important Fish in the Sea, by H. Bruce Franklin.