PROTECTING MENHADEN FISH

January 10, 2019 at 4:45 am

One of the most important species in the ocean’s food chain is in danger of being overfished. Tonight, we take a look at how New Yorkers are fighting to protect menhaden fish.

For more information on The Nature Conservancy, click here. 

Aired on January 9, 2019. 

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>>> SO HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF A
MEN HATING FISH?
CHANCES ARE YOU KNOW WHAT THEY
ARE, BUNKERFISH, AMONG OTHER
THINGS USED AS BAIT, QUITE
POSSIBLY MOST IMPORTANT FISH IN
THE SEA.
BACK IN THE 1950s POPULATION
DRASTICALLY DECLINED ONCE WE GET
BETTER AT CATCHING THEM.
SINCE TAKEN DECADES TO BRING THE
FISH POPULATION BACK TO WHERE
THEY ARE NOW, SEEING BENEFITS TO
OUR LOCAL MARINE LIFE AND
ECONOMY.
BUT IN DANGER OF BEING
OVERFISHED AGAIN.
AS PART OF THE MULTIMEDIA PUBLIC
INITIATIVE, PERIL AND PROMISE,
CLIMATE CHANGE, LOOK AT WHY THE
FISH ARE IMPORTANT, HOW TO DO IT
AND MAINTAIN THE NEW YORK
COASTAL INDUSTRY.
NEW YORK OCEANS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
FROM THE NATURE CONSERVANCY.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
>> TELL US WHAT ARE THESE FISH?
>> IN NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY,
CALL THEM BUNKER.
NOT IMPRESSIVE LOOKING.
NOT AS COOL AS SHARK OR STRIPED
BASS.
BUT THINK ABOUT THEIR ROLE IN
THE ECOSYSTEM AND CONTEXT, IT'S
AMAZING WHAT THEY CAN DO.
>> I SAID MIGHT BE MOST
IMPORTANT FISH AROUND.
PEOPLE PROBABLY LISTENING TO
THAT, LITTLE TINIES IN THE SAND
AND RIVER?
ECOSYSTEM, ROLE THEY PLAY?
>> OCCURRED IN HIGH ABUNDANCES,
FILTER PLANKTON IN THE WATER,
LIVE UP TO TEN YEARS, GROW ABOUT
A FOOT.
EVERYTHING THAT FLIES OR SWIMS
IN THE COASTAL WATERS, BAIZE AND
HARBORS EATS THEM AT SOME POINT.
>> SOURCE OF NUTRITION FOR
ALMOST EVERYBODY ELSE.
>> DO IT BY TURNING LITTLE
PLANKTON INTO SOMETHING
EVERYTHING FROM SHARK TO WHALE
CAN EAT.
>> ALSO TALKED ABOUT THE
ECONOMY.
WHAT ROLE DO THEY PLAY IN THE
ECONOMY?
>> AS BASE OF THE FOOD WEB,
SUPPORTS A LOT OF SPORT
FISHERIES, STRIPED BASS
FISHERIES IS BIG IN NEW YORK AND
NEW JERSEY.
>> USING FOR BAIT.
>> AND SCHOOLS OF BLUEFISH.
>> COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN RELY ON
THIS AS SOURCE OF INCOME?
>> TURNS OUT LITTLE FISH THAT
PEOPLE DON'T EAT IS LARGEST
FISHERY IN THE U.S. ATLANTIC
WATERS.
>> REALLY?
>> FISH ARE HARVESTED FOR BAIT,
20% OF THEM TO FEED THE LOBSTER
AND CRAB FISHERY, BUT 80% OF
THEM ARE HARVESTED TO MAKE
INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS LIKE FISH
MEAL FOR PIG FOOD.
OMEGA, FATTY ACID PILLS PEOPLE
TAKE.
>> ALL COME FROM THAT.
LOOK BACK, IN THE '50s, ALMOST
FISHED FISHERY.
HAD TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES FOR
STEAM POWER AND AFTER THE WAR,
MODERN SHIPS WE SEE, EASY TO
FIND THE SCHOOLS OF FISH.
HARVESTED IN MASSIVE AMOUNTS AND
NO RULES AT ALL.
>> AS SAID IN THE INTRO, THEY
CAME BACK.
HOW AND WHY ARE THEY THREATENED
NOW.
>> IN THE '90s, A LOT OF
FISHERMAN IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY
STARTED TO RING ALARM BELLS.
BUILT PARTNERSHIPS WITH
SCIENTISTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL
GROUPS TO HIGHLIGHT THEY WERE
DISAPPEARING AND SEEING EFFECTS
ON THE STRIPED BASS.
TOOK ANOTHER DECADE BUT 2012,
FIRST COASTWIDE CAP ON AMOUNTS
THAT COULD BE HARVESTED WAS PUT
IN PLACE.
RESULTS REMARKABLE WITH RECOVERY
THINGS WE DIDN'T EXPECT TO SEE
IN NEW YORK.
>> WHAT IS HAPPENING TO
JEOPARDIZE IT?
>> SOME OF THE PROTECTIONS
ROLLED BACK, QUOTA INCREASED BY
THREE THREE SEPARATE TIMES.
WHETHER IS FEARED IS WAY THE
CATCHES ARE SET DOESN'T INCLUDE
THE WAY THEY'RE IN THE FOOD WEB.
PUT A VALUE ON WHAT WE CATCH BUT
NOT WHAT IS LEFT IN THE WATER.
>> LOOK AT -- BUT NOT HOW THEY
HELP EVERYTHING TO EXIST.
>> INCLUDING THE ECONOMIC
BENEFITS TO LEAVING THEM IN THE
WATER TO SUPPORT THE FISHERIES
AND RESURGENCE IN WHALES AND
WHALE WATCHING IN NEW YORK CITY.
>> WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
>> WE'RE WORKING TO TRY TO GET
MANAGEMENT ALONG THE COAST
CHANGED TO ACCOUNT FOR THE VALUE
OF THE FISH WE LEAVE IN THE
WATER BEFORE WE SET THE
COASTWIDE LIMITS.
SHORTER TERM IN NEW YORK
SPECIFICALLY WE NEED GOVERNOR
AND NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE
TO PREVENT THE VESSELS THAT
CATCH MILLIONS AT AT TIME.
>> NOT JUST ONE GUY WITH NET.
KEEP THOSE BIG SHIPS OUT OF
NEW YORK STATE WATERS.
PROTECTS THE SPORT FISHERIES,
WHALES AND LOCAL BAYMEN WHO USE
SMALLER BAIT.
>> FASCINATING LOOK AT ISSUE
IMPORTANT TO ALL OF US BUT LOT
OF US DIDN'T KNOW IT EXISTED.
COUNT MYSELF IN IT.
GREW UP ON THE BEACH.
IT'S IMPORTANT.
HOPEFULLY TAKE THE RIGHT STEPS.
THANKS.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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