Soundkeeper Terry Backer used his impressive, long record as an advocate for healthy marine ecologies to promote a reduction in the commercial catch of Atlantic menhaden. One of the most important fish species in the U.S., menhaden are consumers of plankton and plant detritus and are fed upon by many important species of predatory fish, mammals and birds. The problem is the adundance of Atlantic coastal menhaden has declined almost 90% in the past 25 years. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) recently voted to reduce commercial catch by 25% from 2011 levels, which will help keep approximately 300 million menhaden in the water next year so they can fulfill their fundamental role in the food web.
Backer attended and spoke at public hearings on menhaden in Bridgeport and placed calls to key Connecticut officials which influenced the outcome of the ASMFC decision in the menhaden’s favor. According to Peter Baker, Director of the Northeast Fisheries Programs for the Pew Environment Group, Backer gave an “essential contribution to the effort to conserve Atlantic menhaden, which no doubt prompted the ASMFC to carefully consider its position and move toward science-based management of this critical species. . .This was an historic and potentially transformative victory”!