Halt the overfishing of Chesapeake Bay menhaden

October 31, 2011

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is on the threshold of making a game-changing decision: Whether to allow the menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay to be fished to extinction, or to act decisively to save this vital mid-chain food fish.

Overfishing the Chesapeake Bay menhaden is exactly the kind of situation ASMFC is empowered to regulate by reducing commercial fishing takes or imposing moratoriums. The decimation of the bay's menhaden population to historic lows deals a severe blow to the area's entire symbiotic oceanic food chain.

Fishing crews fill their boats to maximize the return on corporate investment. While that may be understandable, it doesn't obscure the fact that the menhaden population and many other marine species are in decline because of it.

The ASMFC should impose a partial moratorium on menhaden fishing every other year for several years until the population is substantially resuscitated. I urge ASMFC to act boldly to put the brakes on relentless factory fishing and restore the ecological balance to this vital resource.

Louis Brendan Curran, Baltimore

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