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Little Fish, Big Worry: Future of Menhaden Sparks Concern

Fishermen hoist a net full of pogies, also known as menhaden, into their boat along a cove in West Bath, Maine, on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008. They use the fish as bait for lobstering and said they caught about 30,000 pounds.
Pat Wellenbach
/
AP Photo/File
Fishermen hoist a net full of pogies, also known as menhaden, into their boat along a cove in West Bath, Maine, on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008. They use the fish as bait for lobstering and said they caught about 30,000 pounds.

A big decision about the future of a little fish is attracting the attention of ocean conservation groups.

Industry players are petitioning the Marine Stewardship Council to certify the menhaden fishery as sustainable. The London-based council’s sustainability certification is one of the most recognized seafood labels in the marketplace.

Many of the species the council certifies are popular food fish that are well-known to consumers, such as tuna and sole. Menhaden is used for products such as fish oil, pet food and aquaculture feed, and it’s the subject of a huge fishery on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

Environmental groups such as the Louisiana-based Recirculating Farms Coalition said they are concerned there isn’t enough data to certify the fishery and they fear it’s being rushed through.