Dump of menhaden in Gulf brings latest calls for regulation

September 18, 2022 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana conservation groups are renewing calls for tougher regulations on the state’s least-regulated fishery after a fishing boat let loose huge numbers of dead fish off the state’s southwest coast.

The Advocate reports that the dump of menhaden — also known as pogy or fatback — were dumped Sept. 8. The resulting mass of rotting fish drew complaints from several charter boat captains. Charters target the redfish and other species that depend on menhaden for food.

“It seems excessively wasteful to catch that much fish, and it’s just left there. There should be some sort of penalty,” said Chris Macaluso, of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

The company Omega Protein estimates it lost about 900,000 menhaden when one of its crews cut free a bulging net near Cameron Parish.

Jason Adriance, of the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said only about 2% of the Gulf of Mexico’s menhaden stock is fished each year, so the incident doesn’t matter much.

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“A couple million extra is insignificant,” Adriance said.

Still, it comes as conservation and recreational fishing groups worry that the largely unchecked fishery is taking food from other species like speckled trout and dolphins, which have suffered population declines in recent years.