Regulators Say Menhaden, A Key Ocean Fish, in Good Shape 

Fishermen hoist a net full of pogies, also known as menhaden, into their boat along a cove in West Bath, Maine, on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008. They use the fish as bait for lobstering and said they caught about 30-thousand pounds.  Back in the 1980's it was a common occurrence for vast schools of menhaden to be chased into various Maine coves along the shoreline by bluefish. Marine officials reported that the hundreds of thousands of pogies would  severely deplete the oxygen in the water, causing them to die along with other aquatic life. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

Fishermen hoist a net full of pogies, also known as menhaden, into their boat along a cove in West Bath, Maine, on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008. They use the fish as bait for lobstering and said they caught about 30-thousand pounds. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Interstate fishing regulators say prospects are good for menhaden, a fish that is critical to the health of the ocean.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission says menhaden are not experiencing overfishing and their reproduction is good. The commission says the amount of menhaden that die from fishing operations is well below targeted levels.

Atlantic Menhaden Board Chair Robert Ballou says the stock’s good condition gives regulators an opportunity to reevaluate how to manage the fish.

Menhaden are an important source of bait for commercial fishermen and they are also a critical piece of the ocean’s food web. They’re also used to make dietary supplements.

The menhaden fishery is typically worth more than $100 million annually. Fishermen catch more than a billion pounds of menhaden between inshore and offshore fisheries.

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