Bay Journal – On Tuesday morning, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC)’s members voted unanimously to take over management authority for Atlantic menhaden from the General Assembly per legislation passed in February.
The vote brings the Commonwealth into compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)’s fishery management plan for this forage species, which forms a vital link in the food webs of the entire Atlantic coast. It avoids a federal moratorium on all of Virginia’s menhaden fisheries that would have taken effect June 17, 2020. Before the February vote, menhaden had been the only marine fishery managed by the General Assembly instead of VMRC.
Last year, ASMFC found Virginia out of compliance after Omega Protein, the nation’s biggest fish meal processor, exceeded fishery managers’ Bay harvest cap. To get the state back in compliance, Omega’s 2020 Bay cap has been cut by the amount the company’s boats went over the limit last year.
The crews aboard Omega Protein’s “reduction fleet” of nine large purse seine vessels based in Reedville will begin fishing as usual on the first Monday in May (the 4th) with the tight new limits.