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Win For Anglers: Federal Government Threatens to Close Down Menhaden Fishery

Wednesday, January 15, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Mickaela Hilleren
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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued a statement threatening to temporarily close Chesapeake Bay’s menhaden fishery if the state of Virginia does not comply with federal quotas by June 17, 2020.  In a win for recreational fishing, the U.S. Department of Commerce found Virginia out of compliance for permitting Omega Protein Corp., which accounts for the vast majority of the menhaden fishery in Virginia, to exceed Chesapeake Bay’s quota.  In 2019, Omega Protein harvested 35 million pounds over the bay quota.

“We applaud Secretary Ross’ decision to protect our fisheries and holding organizations accountable for federal quotas,” said MRAA President, Matt Gruhn. “By promptly addressing this behavior, the U.S. Department of Commerce is making important steps towards protecting fish stocks along the Atlantic Coast. We applaud the Secretary’s decision to protect this forage fish population and the businesses and communities that benefit from it.”

“Implementing responsible conservation practices across all fisheries is essential to the long-term wellbeing of marine ecosystems and we thank Secretary Ross for doing just that by swiftly addressing menhaden overfishing in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of NMMA. “Healthy and sustainable forage fish and sportfish stocks are equally important to the recreational boating and fishing community and this decision is a major step toward protecting and rebuilding both of these critical populations.”

“Secretary Ross made the right move in standing with recreational fishermen,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Reduction fishing for menhaden threatens the livelihoods of thousands of hard-working fishing guides and tackle shop owners and impacts everything from striped bass to whales. Today’s decision holds Omega accountable and sets the stage for improved management of this important forage fish.”

“U.S. Commerce Secretary Ross’ decision to hold Omega Protein accountable for their actions demonstrates clear conservation leadership to the sportfishing and boating industry and anglers along the Atlantic Coast,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “This decision comes at a critical time because menhaden’s top predator, Atlantic striped bass, is currently in poor condition and the Chesapeake Bay is the primary spawning and nursery area for the species. We thank Secretary Ross for recognizing the value menhaden brings to the recreational fishing community and America’s outdoor recreational economy.”

“The ASMFC's Policy Board has some of the finest fishery managers in the country on it and they unanimously found Virginia out of compliance with the Menhaden Fishery Management Plan. Upholding the ASMFC's non-compliance finding for Virginia was simply the right thing to do,” said David Sikorski, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland. “We applaud Secretary Ross for defending both the management system and the forage base in the Chesapeake Bay.”

If you have questions, please contact MRAA Government Relations Manager, Adam Fortier-Brown.

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