A dozen lawmakers representing the Chesapeake Bay region have signed onto bills in the General Assembly this year that would change the way the way the state manages menhaden, a fish used to make fish meal, fish oil and other products.Menhaden are unique, at least in Virginia, in that they are regulated directly by the legislature and not by the states designated resource agency, the Marine Resources Commission. This is a result of lobbying by Omega, and the town that support it's fishery, to keep the harvest as large as possible. I strongly favor taking the job away from the politicians, and giving it back to the professional fisheries managers, who are at least a little protected from the direct political pressure, and most often at least intend to do the right thing to maintain the fishery, and the ecosystem that depends on them.
Del. Barry Knight, a Republican from Virginia Beach, who long sought to rein in the fishery, tells the Virginian-Pilot that there's an unprecedented level of support for menhaden-related legislation this year.
Knight is pushing legislation that would let the Virginia Marine Resources Commission regulate menhaden.
But Omega Protein Corp., which turns menhaden into other products, opposes the move. It says the General Assembly, not the Marine Resources Commission, should control the fishery's fate.