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Posted Mon Jul 18 2011: from GiltTaste:
The Most Important Fish in the Sea
With two smaller boats at its side, the Reedville encloses a school of fish in a stiff black purse seine net. With practiced efficiency, workers onboard hoist a vacuum pump into the net and suck tens of thousands of small silvery fish out of the water. It looks like an unusual way to catch fish; it's all the more unusual when you realize that this particular industrial catch is actually banned by every state on the East Coast. Every state, that is, save for one: Virginia. The fish going up the tube are Atlantic menhaden, known to ocean ecologists as the "breadbasket of the ocean," though some prefer to call them "the most important fish in the sea." Because there's money to be made, menhaden, all the fish that rely on them for food, and the entire ocean ecosystem are in trouble. Found in estuarine and coastal waters from Nova Scotia to Florida, menhaden are oily, bony, and inedible to humans, which is why you've probably never heard of them. But their nutrient-packed bodies are a staple food for dozens of fish species you have heard of, as well as marine mammals and sea birds. Located near the bottom of the food chain, menhaden are the favored prey for many important predators, including striped bass and bluefish, tuna and dolphin, seatrout and mackerel.... This is the "menhaden reduction" process, the basis for a lucrative industry controlled, on the East Coast, by exactly one company: Omega Protein, Inc.
[Read more stories about: overfishing, hunting to extinction, ecosystem interrelationships]

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'Doc Michael says:
Isn't that Nature's purpose -- to make us money?

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