Sen. Lynwood Lewis’ proposal to study the menhaden population in the Chesapeake Bay was stripped of most of its teeth. The bill was scaled back by the House Rules subcommittee, which voted to only require VIMS to provide details of a potential study’s scope, who would be the potential ‘stakeholders’, how much it would cost, and how long it would take. In essence, the bill would only provide the details of a possible study, and would not endorse or require one.
Fish spills from last summer gave lawmakers some ammunition, but since state regulators had signed off on a non-enforceable agreement with Omega Protein to hold off fishing on weekends and around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, softening the bill appeared to be acceptable to most parties.
“The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which oversees the catch and the industry in terms of scientific research, in April of 2021 had a study that suggests it would take five to seven years to do this, possibly as much as 10” – Omega Lobbyist Steve Horton.
Omega opposed Lewis’ original bill earlier this session, but along with the Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Virginia Conservation Network, League of Conservation Voters and Friends of the Rappahannock, supported the scaled-back version of the bill.