Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director
On February 27, legislation that would transfer authority from the legislature to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to manage Atlantic menhaden, cleared its final hurdle in the House of Delegates before advancing to Governor Northam’s desk.
Governor Northam is expected to sign the legislation which will enable the Commonwealth to comply with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic menhaden. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and conservation partners supported the legislation.
In October 2019, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) found the Commonwealth of Virginia out of compliance with Amendment 3 of the FMP for failing to enforce the Chesapeake Bay Fishery Cap.
On December 3, CSF, along with partners in the recreational fishing and boating community, requested that Secretary Ross affirm the ASMFC’s noncompliance finding. Later, in December, Secretary Ross agreed with the noncompliance finding and ordered a moratorium on fishing for Atlantic menhaden in Virginia’s state waters to begin on June 17, 2020 unless the Commonwealth implemented regulations that complied with the FMP.
Similar legislative efforts in prior years stalled, but the legislation this year received strong bipartisan support.
Menhaden are an important forage food for many recreationally important species including, among others, Atlantic striped bass, bluefish and cobia. This legislation will advance menhaden conservation and benefit Virginia’s anglers who generated $29.47 million for conservation in 2019.
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