Menhaden reductions could make for tighter bait market

Menhaden’s ecosystem role low on the foodchain has made it a contentious species as well. Despite the sight of marine mammals chowing down, the impact of management changes have yet to be seen, says Paul Eidman, a charter captain and activist with Menhaden Defenders.

“I don’t know if I really agree” that the lively ocean shows menhaden are booming, Eidman said. “It’s going to take a few years. But we are at the epicenter of the surviving biomass. It should be from Maine to Florida, thicker than thieves.”

Meanwhile recreational fishermen are using more fresh menhaden, particularly for striped bass. That market has gotten big enough for commercial gill net captains to specifically target bunker during peak times of the season, and establish relationships with bait dealers who pick up the fish dockside.

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