Menhaden commercial fishing, NOAA photo.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission on Friday, December 14, voted to reduce the harvest of Atlantic menhaden by 20%, based on the 2009-2011 3-year catch average for the menhaden bait and reduction fisheries.

The vote was hailed by conservation and sport fishing groups, who have long been concerned over the harvest of these important forage fish. Commercial fishing groups and Omega Protein, the chief harvester of menhaden on the East Coast, were obviously disappointed, claiming that the decision was unjustified based on existing scientific evidence.

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