Click over to Gilt Taste and read this story about menhaden, "The Most Important Fish in the Sea" about the company Omega Protein Inc., that has been fishing the Atlantic ocean and decimating its population of menhaden, a small oily fish that is ground up and used for pet food, fish oil supplements, and livestock feed.

People don't eat menhaden, outside of taking fish oil supplements, but the little oily boney fish is a big part of the diet of larger fish like the mackerel, tuna, bluefush, and striped bass. They are absolutely crucial to the well being of a giant swath of the ocean ecosystem. Every single U.S. state bans the fishing of menhaden except for one-- Virginia. Omega Protein Inc. runs its fleets out of the state and has been plundering the menhanden for decades. Twenty five years ago the industry pulled in 160 billion fish, last year it was just 20 billion.

Every menhaden taken from the sea is also taken from a mouth of another fish, which will have to go without. It also takes a valuable algae eater out of circulation-- menhaden have a voracious appetite for the stuff and are thought to be good for reducing oceanic dead zones, areas devoid of oxygen that are thick with algae.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Omega Protein Inc. has given generously to all the right Virginian politicians, including Governor Bob McDonnel who received $55,745 in campaign contributions from the company. Any efforts at regulate the menhaden harvest has been met with quick and fierce resistance from allies of Omega Protein Inc. It's bad.

Click over to Gilt Taste and give it a read. If you live in Virginia or know anyone who does, please don't let this one go. Learn more, tell your friends, call your representatives, and write letters to editors. Just do something.

Gilt Taste via Grist

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