Menhaden may be key indicator of Gulf health

The Mobile Press Register writes that the sudden and complete crash of the herring population in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill holds a powerful lesson for the scientists and regulators charged with reopening the Gulf of Mexico’s fisheries. Scientists suggest the menhaden may provide clues to the future of commercial fishing in the Gulf.

Bob Shipp, president of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council:
“My gut feeling is the filter feeders will have suffered mightily. The anchovies, sardines, menhaden, small jacks, it will be very important to determine what happens to them with all the dispersed oil. The copepods and near microscopic organisms (that the filter feeders eat) they may have been hurt badly.

“I definitely think we are going to see a shift in the northern Gulf. Everything above those filter feeders, the Spanish mackerel, the king mackerel, snapper, grouper, everything depends on them. It will be a domino effect. I think ripple effect is not a strong enough word.”

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