By Bruce H. Franklin
During this fabulous portrait of the oceans' not likely hero, H. Bruce Franklin indicates how menhaden have formed America's national-and natural-history, and why reckless overfishing now threatens their position in either. for the reason that local american citizens all started utilizing menhaden as fertilizer, this extraordinary fish has greased the wheels of U.S. agriculture and undefined. by way of the mid-1870s, menhaden had changed whales as a important resource of commercial lubricant, with thousands of ships and dozens of factories alongside the japanese seaboard operating feverishly to provide fish oil. because the Civil struggle, menhaden have supplied the most important capture of any American fishery.
Today, one company—Omega Protein—has a monopoly at the menhaden “reduction industry.” each year it sweeps billions of fish from the ocean, grinds them up, and turns them into animal feed, fertilizer, and oil utilized in every thing from linoleum to health-food supplements.
The gigantic harvest wouldn’t be this sort of challenge if menhaden have been simply reliable for making lipstick and cleaning soap. yet they're an important to the vitamin of larger fish they usually filter out the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, enjoying a vital twin function in marine ecology might be unequalled wherever on this planet. As their numbers have plummeted, fish and birds depending on them were decimated and poisonous algae have started to choke our bays and seas. In Franklin’s bright prose, the decline of a as soon as ubiquitous fish turns into an experience tale, an exploration of the U.S. political economic system, a groundbreaking background of America’s rising ecological cognizance, and an inspiring imaginative and prescient of a becoming alliance among environmentalists and leisure anglers.