2012-01-27 / Sports

Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From TheWheelhouse

By Captain Vinnie Calabro

Seems to be a lot of legislation, advocates and talk with regard to the current state of the menhaden population. Menhaden, or bunker as we refer to them in this area, are without a doubt in a serious decline.

I’ll share with you what bunkers were to Jamaica Bay in years gone by. Not that long ago, in the mid-’70s, you could literally see schools of bunker from the head of the bay in back of Inwood all the way west to Sheepshead and Dead Horse Bay.

There were miles of bunker schools, which had a direct impact on the health of our bay and its fish population. So where have all the bunker gone? Okay, pick a business, fertilizer, fish oil, animal feeds, bait, are all big users of bunker. Gillnetters, purse seiners, cast netters all kill bunker, harvesting them with little or no watching eyes. It’s a very, very lucrative crop that now has environmentalists and fishermen concerned.

They’re a crop that has little defense and because of the nature of the beast gathering in huge compact schools, are an easy target for those who have little regard for their future. I think as bay lovers, fishermen, environmentalists, we need to take a serious and honest look at bunker.

Now taking a look at bunker and managing an often overlooked species is something that would be a responsible and sensible thing to do. I’ve been approached by some bunker groups along the coast and will be sharing their findings and goals with you readers as I receive them. In the meantime I’ll put my contact number here and if you care to voice your opinion or become active in the health of our bay please utilize it 516-728-6952, until the next tide …

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