Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to restrict commercial fishermen from using industrial net capture of the menhaden, a bait fish the serves as a dietary staple of predatory fish, whales, dolphins, seabirds and seals.
Menhaden are an essential link in the ecosystem food chain across New York’s coastal waters and in the Hudson River Estuary, and are also harvested for the production of fish oil, fertilizer and fishmeal. The new law will prohibit the commercial use of purse seines, an industrial net used to encircle a school of fish. This form of entrapment has resulted in the deaths of thousands of menhaden, who cannot survive in confined waters during hot weather; waves of dead fish have washed ashore after dying in these nets.
“New York has made significant investments to improve our habitat, clean up sources of harmful pollution, and restore a healthy diversity of life to our waters,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This critical new law will help us further protect a vital fishery that supports species important to our sportfishing economy, as well as the majestic whales and other marine life that are once again returning to our state’s coastal waters.”