On March 6, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported that the bill from Governor Northam to keep the Virginia reduction fishery in compliance was killed by the House of Delegates. Omega Protein, a major political donor in Virginia, is fighting a ruling that gave them an 8% increase in quota because it also limited the amount of menhaden allowed to be caught in the Chesapeake Bay. The “Bay Cap” was based on historical landings. Omega feels they should be allowed to catch more fish inside the Bay. This is on top of the fact that they already enjoy 75% of the total harvest. Let’s frame this in real numbers for folks who enjoy catching striped bass. Omega takes around 400,000,000lbs of menhaden per year from in and around the largest striped bass nursery in the world. Clearly, that isn’t enough.
If Virginia decides to go out of compliance, the ball will be in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s court. We’d like to thank Gov. Northam for his leadership on the issue within the state. It did not go unnoticed and conservation minded anglers up and down the East Coast are appreciative.
Stay tuned to Fissues for further details as they emerge.