Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) March 25, 2014
A recent article on activist news website TakePart, "Yes, Shrimp Gelatin Is a Real Thing, and It Could Save a Lot of These Tiny Fish," by Alison Fairbrother of the Public Trust Project, discusses an innovative study by a Louisiana State University (LSU) researcher that recycles unused shrimp to make artificial crab bait. However, soon after introducing the research, the story's focus shifts away from the gelatin to criticisms of the management of the fish species menhaden, which is sometimes used as crab bait in Louisiana. The LSU study shows that gelatin bait alternatives in the Gulf of Mexico may yield environmental and economic advantages by potentially reducing waste, cutting shipping costs and emissions, and providing a less expensive bait option. But Saving Seafood's analysis of the TakePart article finds its leading assumption – that this new research will have an impact on Atlantic menhaden management – to be hyperbolic and misleading. In addition, according to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), the Atlantic menhaden stock is not overfished, and new harvest cuts ensure that overfishing does not occur.
A quota-based management system also means that menhaden bait replacements in the Gulf will likely have no effect on the sustainability or management of Atlantic menhaden. According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), approximately 24 percent of harvested Atlantic menhaden is netted for bait, and the majority of that remains on the East Coast for use in New England lobster traps and crab pots in Mid-Atlantic waters. The Atlantic menhaden fishery operates under a quota system that already strictly limits the amount of fish that can be harvested.
Two years ago, the ASMFC established an historically strict quota for commercial menhaden harvests. But the LSU College of Agriculture notes that these new harvest cuts increased prices for Atlantic menhaden, in turn inspiring research like that from LSU referenced in the TakePart article. Fisheries managers approved these controversial harvest cuts to ensure that the commercial menhaden fishery continues to operate at sustainable levels. So, while shrimp gelatin might reduce operating costs for fishermen in the Gulf, it is irrelevant to menhaden management, and certainly won't further "save" any menhaden beyond the fishery's current and already-strict harvest cuts.
About Saving Seafood:
Saving Seafood conducts media and public outreach on behalf of the seafood industry, as well as communications to keep industry members aware of issues and events of concern. Saving Seafood works with owners, captains, fishermen, seafood processors and brokers who are committed to the preservation of the resource that has provided their livelihood, and that of their American forebears, for generations.