Menhaden net

Menhaden not
The state of Virginia has been barred from compliance to allow Canada-based Omega Protein to overfish menhade stocks in the Chesapeake Bay.
Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued a decision to crack down on overfishing in the Chesapeake Bay, paving the way for better management of the menhaden fishery.

Ross found the state of Virginia out of line after foreign-owned Omega Protein deliberately violated the fish hat on Menhad, an important food source for striped bass, in the Chesapeake Bay.

“US Commerce Secretary Ross’ decision to hold Omega Protein accountable for their actions demonstrates clear conservation leadership for the sport fishing and sailing industry and anglers along the Atlantic coast.” said Glenn Hughes, president of American Sportsfishing Association. “This decision comes at a critical time because menhad’s top predator, Atlantic striped bass, is currently in poor condition and Chesapeake Bay is the species’ primary spawning and rearing area. We thank Secretary Ross for acknowledging the value that menhad brings. to the recreational fishing community and the United States’ outdoor recreational economy. “

“Secretary Ross took the right step in standing with recreational fishermen,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Reducing fishing for the menhad threatens the livelihoods of thousands of hard-working fishing guides and gear shop owners and affects everything from striped bass to whales. Today’s decision holds Omega responsible and sets the stage for improved management of this important feed fish. ”

“ASMFC’s Policy Board has some of the best fisheries managers in the country on it, and they unanimously found Virginia out of line with the Menhaden Fishery Management Plan. Maintaining ASMFC’s finding of non-compliance for Virginia was simply the right thing to do.” said David Sikorski, CEO of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland. “We applaud Secretary Ross for defending both the management system and the feed base in Chesapeake Bay.”

“Implementing responsible conservation practices across all fisheries is critical to the long-term well-being of marine ecosystems, and we thank Secretary Ross for doing just that by addressing rapidly overfishing the menhad in the Chesapeake Bay.” said Frank Hugelmeyer, chairman National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Healthy and sustainable feed fish and sport fish stocks are equally important to the recreational boating and fishing community, and this decision is a major step towards protecting and rebuilding both of these critical populations.”

Since October, tens of thousands of recreational fishermen, dozens of companies and organizations, and nine governors along the east coast, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, have all called for the secretary to take action on this issue. Virginia’s General Assembly, which meets in early 2020, must now decide whether to transfer the management of the menhad to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission or face a moratorium.

According to a recent scientific study, fishing with menhaden reduction contributes to a nearly 30 percent decrease in the number of striped bass. The striped bass fishing industry contributes $ 7.8 billion in GDP to the Atlantic coast economy.

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