Menhaden, a fish that plays a vital role in maintaining Atlantic Coast ecosystems, is suffering from decades of depletion through overfishing and global warming. Hundreds of millions of pounds of menhaden are ground into feed for hogs, chickens, pets and salmon, while also being used in omega-3 oils and in lipstick, paint, and other items.
As described by New York Times journalist Paul Greenberg and US author H. Bruce Franklin, the menhaden is an herbivorous fish whose algae consumption actually purifies tremendous amounts of water.
However, due to population losses, places such as Chesapeake Bay in the USA are now muddy-brown and contain a growing number of dead zones. In addition, the waste of commercial pig and chicken operations flowing into the Neuse River of North Carolina, USA, has caused vast algal blooms. As millions of menhaden try at once to consume the massive amounts of algae, the insufficient oxygen in the warm water has caused them to suffocate en masse. In the summer of 2009 alone, up to 50 million menhaden were killed and washed ashore along the Neuse River.
Of note is the fact that according to nutritional experts at the US-based Mayo Clinic, substitutes for oil obtained from menhaden readily exist in the form of plant-based oils such as flax seed.
Our appreciation Mr. Greenberg, Mr. Franklin, and Mayo Clinic scientists. We pray that humans quickly cease to consume fish and meat, which are at the root of climate change and environmental imbalance. May all of us strive to develop compassion and live in harmony with our animal co-inhabitants. At a March 2009 climate change conference in Xalapa City, Mexico, joined by Mexican dignitaries and the public, honored guest Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke, as in other occasions, about the preciousness of every species to all life on the planet.