Atlantic Managers Must Act to Conserve Menhaden

Science-based decisions could help these forage fish return to their full range from Maine to Florida

Atlantic Menhaden
© The Pew Charitable Trusts

Atlantic menhaden play an essential role in marine ecosystems and businesses along the U.S. East Coast. In August 2020, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which sets fishing rules for menhaden along the Eastern Seaboard, adopted one of the country’s most advanced ecosystem-based approaches to managing forage fish to protect their ecological and economic value.

Menhaden serve as a critical food source for whales, dolphins, ospreys, eagles, and other wildlife, and for commercially and recreationally valuable species such as tuna, cod, striped bass, king mackerel, and tarpon. They are also the focus of a large commercial fishery; by weight, more menhaden are caught along the U.S. Atlantic coast than any other fish species. The catch is used in feed for pets, livestock, and farmed fish; in oil for nutritional supplements and cosmetics; and as bait for other fisheries. But coastal communities and economies also have an interest in sustaining healthy menhaden populations in the water because they support valuable recreation, tourism, and seafood businesses.

As hundreds of thousands of comments submitted during the years-long rulemaking process demonstrate, scientists, anglers, conservation organizations, and the public strongly back ecosystem-based fisheries management for menhaden. This modern approach supports fishery managers in setting catch limits that leave enough menhaden in the water to feed wildlife, support coastal businesses, and enable this vital species to increase in numbers and return to its full historic range from Maine to Florida.

Additional Resources

Spotlight on Mental Health

This video is hosted by YouTube. In order to view it, you must consent to the use of “Marketing Cookies” by updating your preferences in the Cookie Settings link below. View on YouTube

This video is hosted by YouTube. In order to view it, you must consent to the use of “Marketing Cookies” by updating your preferences in the Cookie Settings link below. View on YouTube

Big Win for Menhaden Is Big Win for Whales, More
Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.