[Marxism] Fwd: Not Just Another Stinky Fish - The New York Times
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 26 07:31:34 MDT 2016
Branford, Conn. — In a bay near this coastal town, the sea was boiling
with hundreds of herring-size shiners leaping to flee a marauding squad
of bluefish. “These waters are coming back,” Bren Smith yelled above the
shrieking din, as sea gulls plunged near our boat, scooping up fish. Mr.
Smith grows seaweed and shellfish in Long Island Sound, and he says he’s
seen a lot more action out here recently.
What thrilled me about this scene was that I was witnessing what happens
when fishery managers set strict catch limits to stop overfishing.
Those leaping silvery fish were menhaden, also known as bunker, or
pogies. To Mr. Smith and other fishermen I spoke to, there are
encouraging signs that the menhaden population along the Atlantic Coast
is healthy after decades of intensive commercial exploitation. Other sea
creatures whose lives are intertwined with them also seem to be doing
well. Sharks, whales, bluefish, tuna, osprey and other predators depend
in part on these fish.
“There’s all this life that wasn’t there before,” John McMurray, who
captains his own charter boat, told me. He said it’s been a boon for his
sports fishing business off Long Island: “In the past four years,
striped bass fishing has gotten a lot better, bluefish as well. We’re
even getting bluefin tuna coming inshore to feed on the schools of
Menhaden are filter feeders. They swim in vast schools of hundreds of
thousands of fish. Mouths agape as they feed, menhaden are living vacuum
cleaners sucking up algae blooms that deplete inshore waters of oxygen
and create biological deserts in the sea. A single adult menhaden can
clean four to seven gallons of water in a minute.
With its putrid smell, bony flesh and rancid oily taste, the menhaden
would seem the least likely candidate for “The Most Important Fish in
the Sea,” the title of H. Bruce Franklin’s brilliant new
environmentalist study. But Franklin is not being ironic. The menhaden
is the most important fish in the sea if you understand its ecological
While it is understandable that groups like Greenpeace would take up the
cause of sea creatures at the top of the food chain, like the great
whales or the bluefin tuna, Franklin understands that without the easily
dismissed menhaden, those above it on the food chain do not stand a
chance. This includes the human race as well, since the menhaden is
particularly suited to cleaning up plankton-ridden waters. As one of the
few marine specimens that thrive on microscopic plant life or
phyloplanton, it is uniquely positioned to purify waters that have
become virtual swamps as a result of the massive influx of
nitrogen-based fertilizers from farms, lawns and golf courses. With much
of the Gulf of Mexico having been turned into a vast dead zone by
fertilizer run-off from the Mississippi River, there is a drastic need
for the humble menhaden.
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