Virginia Marine Resources Commission approves menhaden harvest limit


Omega Protein’s Menhaden processing plant on Cockrell’s Creek in Reedville, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. The last east coast fishery now produces fish oil for health supplements and faces a possible moratorium over concerns about overfishing in the Chesapeake Bay. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — On Tuesday, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) reduced Virginia’s menhaden harvest by 10 percent to comply with the newly adopted menhaden fishery quota from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

Virginia’s harvest was cut from 168,213 metric tons to 151,392 metric tons. The Chesapeake Bay harvest cap remains unchanged.  

In August, the ASMFC committed to using Ecological Reference Points, which consider menhaden’s important role in the food chain when setting menhaden harvest limits.

In October, ASMFC voted to reduce the menhaden catch along the Atlantic Coast by 10 percent. This year Virginia legislators also transferred the management of the menhaden fishery from the General Assembly to VMRC. 

These developments come after 25 years of effort by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), its conservation partners, and the ASMFC to formally consider the importance of menhaden to the other species that prey on them.  

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