The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has put the state of Virginia on notice regarding the menhaden fishery in the mid-Atlantic state.
However, rather than proceeding with the next steps, the ASMFC’s Atlantic Menhaden Management Board chose to postpone any hearing on the matter until August. That still gives Virginia lawmakers time to approve a bill that would cap the state’s harvest at 51,000 metric tons in Chesapeake Bay for this year.
“The reduction fishery is just beginning for the year and is highly unlikely to exceed the Bay cap prior to August given the performance of the fishery for the past five years,” the ASMFC said in a statement.
States were supposed to submit plans to the commission by 1 January and implement them by 15 April.
Menhaden typically is caught because of the rich omega-3 fat content. It’s often used to create nutritional supplements, but it’s also a key component in the development of fertilizers and cosmetics.
While the commission won’t act now, it will continue to monitor the state’s total catch, and it will notify the AMMB if Virginia nears the 51,000 metric ton limit in the interim. However, according to the commission, the fishery’s performance in recent years means such a harvest over the summer would be unlikely.I'd love to see the mass seining of Menhaden stopped in Virginia. Migratory fish need to be regulated on a larger scale than state wide, which encourages a "tragedy of the commons" sort of attitude. We need the Menhaden to make it up the bay to feed stripers and other big predators, and if Virginia purse seiners were given permission to fish as hard as they wanted the stripers would never pass Point Lookout.
Should Virginia fail to take action by August, the ASMFC may find the state is not in compliance with the fishery management plan. At that point, the U.S. Commerce Secretary would have 30 days to review the decision and consider next steps. That could include a ban on menhaden fishing in state waters.