Most of you will remember that a while back we cheered action on menhaden regulation changes, and providing your angler input regarding the bills to put menhaden management into the hands of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). We're happy to say that no doubt thanks in part to your response, the bills passed, Governor Northam signed on the dotted line, and the VMRC is now running the menhaden show. To get the ball rolling they created a Menhaden Management Advisory Committee. Now, the Committee has come out with a Draft management document which is currently open for public comment.
Public comment on the Draft can be given at one of two meetings (streamed live via YouTube) April 20 at 4:00 p.m., and April 28 at 9:30 a.m. You can also provide written comment by noon of April 23, by sending an email to [email protected] with the word "Menhaden" in the subject line. Just what comment can you send that supports saltwater angling? That's up to you. However, we've been following this issue with a close eye on the Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association take on things, and in out humble opinion, the VSSA has been spot-on in its positions. (Note: if you're a Virginia saltwater angler and you aren't part of the organization, now would be a great time to join VSSA to help all of us anglers have a voice in this process - as well as others that directly impact our fishing abilities). So we've copy-cut-pasted their take on things from an email they sent out yesterday, below:
VSSA is still working on our comments but here is what we would like to see included in this draft regulation:
Para 4 Definitions currently reads “Chesapeake Bay means the territorial waters lying west of the Bay Bridge Tunnel.” We recommend the definition be changed to mean the territorial waters west of the line of demarcation between the Cape Henry and Cape Charles lighthouse referred to as the COLREGS demarcation line . This definition represents the commonly accepted separation of the Chesapeake Bay vs Atlantic Ocean used in other Virginia regulations including Striped Bass and for navigation as documented on USCG Charts. There are no commonly accepted references that use the CBBT as a demarcation line between the bay and ocean. This will prevent potential conflicts between recreational and commercial interests. The area immediately east of the Bay Bridge tunnel is a highly popular recreational fishing area. Having both the commercial and recreational fleets in the same area presents potential safety issues.
In years past there has been an informal agreement relative to harvesting menhaden close to shoreline. Purse seine fishing of menhaden should be prohibited within 1 mile of any public beach where families and children are allowed to swim such as Cape Henry, Virginia Beach, Buckroe Beach, Chics Beach, Sandbridge beach, etc from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Additionally, the charter Captains operating out Rudee inlet fish in state waters from Cape Henry to Sandbridge which comprises of trolling for Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish and provides a significant portion of their trips. Removing menhaden from these waters would significantly disrupt fishing in these waters. As such recommend purse seine fishing for menhaden be prohibited in state waters (out to 3 miles) from Cape Henry Light to Sandbridge fishing pier Memorial Day to Labor Day each year.