Omega Protein thumbed its nose at the law, regulators, and any sense of environmental stewardship by intentionally over-harvesting menhaden in the Chesapeake this year, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) then voted unanimously to find Virginia out of compliance with interstate fisheries management plans, and now Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has reached out directly to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to request a moratorium. You can read Northam's letter below but before you do so, we at FishTalk would like to offer the governor a heartfelt THANK YOU for taking this action.
The fight over menhaden is nothing new, and most FishTalk readers are going to be quite familiar with this issue. It's an ongoing hot topic, and has come up in our previous Conservation Updates and Notes From the Cockpit columns plenty of times. But the issue takes on even more importance these days, as we see a falling striped bass population which, much of the season, seem to be practically starving to death. Since menhaden are the striper's main forage fish, it only makes sense to consider menhaden management alongside striped bass management. Remember, countless recreational anglers and associated businesses depend almost entirely on striper fishing. When it comes to purse seining menhaden, however, the lone company in the game is Canadian-owned Omega, and much of the menhaden they rip out of our waters is sent to Canada to feed farmed salmon.
This. Makes. No. Sense.
To Governor Northam, VA secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler, and the citizens of Virginia who back them: Thanks again, and keep up the fight to preserve a healthy ecological balance in the Chesapeake.