Advocate worries overfishing could affect New Jersey ecosystem

A New Jersey marine life advocate says that he is worried that overfishing off the New Jersey coast could have a negative impact on the state’s ecosystem.
Capt. Paul Eidman takes tourists on whale-watching boat tours at the Jersey Shore. Sightings of whales have increased lately due to a large school of bait fish in the area, which whales feed on.
But Eidman says that he is concerned about overfishing in the area. He says that he recently saw a boat named Rappahannock just outside of state waters. He says that the vessel is owned by Omega Protein and can carry up to 2 million menhaden, an important bait fish also known as bunker fish.
“This causes what we feel…is called localized depletion. You're removing this big chunk of fish out of a local ecosystem and then you have to wonder where [the animals] are going to go and feed now,” he says.
Eidman says he's never seen the Virginia-based ship come this far north for a catch. It is perfectly legal - the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission sets annual limits on the amount of menhaden that can be caught. This year the limit was raised by 8 percent.
“If this is repeated you could take too many fish out of the ecosystem to replace and obviously all the apex predators leave and we are left with a void in the ecosystem,” Eidman says.
Omega Protein responded to Eidman's concern and said that he was making false accusations. 
"Of the tens of millions of fish spotted in the region, the F/V Rappahannock caught just a very small percentage, leaving the vast majority to serve their role in the ecosystem," the company said in a statement.
Eidman says pressure must continue to be put on the ASMFC to recognize menhaden as not only an important economic industry, but also a vital part of the food chain. This will keep the whales and other species from moving on.
Menhaden are used mostly for fish oil dietary supplements, animal food and a variety of other commercial products.