Environmentalists and commercial fishing groups on the East Coast are divided over a decision to increase the amount fishermen can catch of an ecologically vital small fish.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission approved changes to menhaden fishing rules, including an 8 percent increase in East Coast quota. The decision came Tuesday and followed a string of public hearings. The commission had been considering several new ways of managing menhaden, some of which included reducing quota.

The Menhaden Fisheries Coalition says the commission’s decision followed “best available science.” But environmental groups say the move fails to account for menhaden’s key role in the food chain.

Menhaden are one of most-caught fish in the U.S. They are used as bait and to make fish meal and fish oil.

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