In F.J. Eicke’s “Near-shore fishing for menhaden needs tighter regulation” letter (June 3), he blames the fishery for a recent fish die-off in Gulfport and Long Beach.
The best available science on the incident disputes Mr. Eicke’s claim. Scientists with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources investigated the die-off, concluding the menhaden that washed up on the shore most likely died of natural causes.
Their conclusion was based on a number of factors, specifically the amount of dead fish, which given how low it was, is unlikely that a commercial fishing vessel is to blame. Also, according to DMR officials, at the time of the incident, there were two different algal blooms in the Mississippi Sound, both of which were depleting oxygen from the water. It is likely this oxygen depletion was the primary cause for the fish deaths.
In contrast to DMR’s explanation, Mr. Eicke claims that menhaden fishermen were to blame. This is based on him seeing fishermen near the fish kill. Without any other facts, this “evidence” means little and is just another of Mr. Eicke’s scare tactics.
DMR scientists are certainly more qualified than me or Mr. Eicke, and they have stated this incident was not as a result of commercial fishing vessels. Yet, Mr. Eicke continues to insult me and my crew, along with other vessels in the menhaden fishery, and lay the blame on our doorstep.
Gilbert Verret, commercial menhaden fishing captain