Menhaden Fishery Excels in Landings, Sustainability, and Nutrition

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A new Federal report and an international sustainability program both praised America’s commercial menhaden fisheries in October for their economic vitality and sustainability. These fisheries produce menhaden fish oil and fish meal rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to human and animal nutrition.

Infographic: Menhaden is the top source of omega-3s from US commercial fish landings

The two key types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are almost exclusively derived from marine sources, and menhaden offer the highest percent content of both EPA and DHA.

New commendations and a report from the top U.S. agency overseeing commercial fisheries show the commercial menhaden industry to be operating sustainably and in support of some of the nation’s biggest fishing ports. With the release of their annual Fisheries of the United States report last month, NOAA revealed that in 2013 five of the nation’s top ten fishing ports are primarily supported by commercial menhaden fisheries. Friend of the Sea also recently recertified the Gulf menhaden fishery as sustainable, a title also currently held by the Atlantic menhaden fishery. Friend of the Sea is an international sustainability certification program dedicated to the conservation of marine resources.

Menhaden are a key source of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients shown to be essential for regular and healthy body functions and growth in both humans and animals. Omega-3s also help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of serious, prevalent chronic diseases such as heart disease. The American diet typically does not include enough omega-3s, and humans and pets alike obtain omega-3s exclusively from dietary, not internal, sources. Foods enriched with menhaden oils containing omega-3s can fill that nutritional gap.

The two key types of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are almost exclusively derived from marine sources. Of the top landed fish species in the United States, menhaden provided by far the most EPA and DHA. 2013 menhaden landings provided nearly 34 million pounds of EPA and DHA, more than twice as much as supplied by the second best source. Salmon harvests provided about 15.4 million pounds of the nutrients. According to a recent report by the USDA, fish oil from menhaden is also the top source of DPA, surpassing all other fish and meat. DPA is an intermediary of EPA and DHA, and several studies suggest that DPA contributes to cardiovascular, cognitive, and neurological health.

The recent achievements of both the Atlantic and Gulf menhaden fisheries reflect a strong commitment by this industry to serving local communities and consumers nationwide through sustainable operations, local investments, and high quality nutritive products.

About the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition
The Menhaden Fisheries Coalition is a collective of menhaden fishermen, related businesses, and supporting industries. Comprised of over 30 businesses along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition conducts media and public outreach on behalf of the menhaden industry to ensure that members of the public, media, and government are informed of important issues, events, and facts about the fishery.

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Robert Vanasse
Saving Seafood
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