Large-Scale Menhaden Fishing Banned

May 24, 2012

A ban goes into effect today on an industrial-scale method of fishing for menhaden off the North Carolina coast. The ban was approved earlier this month by the state Marine Fisheries Commission. Patricia Smith is with the state Division of Marine Fisheries.

Patricia Smith: The Commission members basically said that they were concerned about the bycatch associated with the use of these nets and these operations. And they'd also gotten quite a few complaints and were concerned about just the conflicts that arise between these operations and recreational fishermen.

The fishing method that's now prohibited involves a large ship deploying several smaller vessels, which use drawstring nets called purse seines to scoop up menhaden. Smith says the nets sometimes catch other fish, including some species the division is trying to protect. Menhaden is used largely for bait, but is also processed into fertilizer and dietary supplements. Smith says that industry has been steadily shrinking in North Carolina.

A bill that would codify the ban in state law has been approved by a legislative committee.