Menhaden Changes in Virginia

HB 1448 and SB 791

Menhaden are currently the only fish species managed by the Virginia legislature. All other species are managed by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. For years, anglers have questioned the reasons for this.

It just isn’t a good look for a fishery to be managed by a state legislature rather than a management body designed to manage fisheries. There have been many efforts to remove management authority from the legislature. The bills all failed, most never making it out of committee.

When Omega Protein ignored the Bay Cap and the Secretary of Commerce found them out of compliance, the door was opened for change. If Omega and Virginia don’t become compliant (set appropriate quotas for 2020), the fishery will be shut down. This was the catalyst for our management goal to be achieved.

On Wednesday, January 29,2020, the ASGA gave public testimony on HB 1448 in the Virginia General Assembly. SB 791, the companion bill for the state senate, was reviewed at the committee level as well. HB 1448 and SB 791 will permanently remove management from the legislature and give the authority to a group of appointed stakeholders within VMRC. Both bills passed the respective committees and are headed to a vote. There are projected to pass and be signed by the Governor this session.

ASGA prepared formal, written comments for HB 1448.

Our takeaway from these developments is very positive. Fisheries should be managed by the appropriate bodies. It is really just that simple. These bills essentially right a wrong. It is no surprise that donations were made to elected officials by the menhaden fishery giving them a higher level of influence. This simple fact is a profound change in menhaden management.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will still manage menhaden on the coastwide level and therefore set the quotas that each state must meet. VMRC will have control and management of the ASMFC quota within the state.

Moving forward, we must be vigilant with VMRC. Why? Because the people who serve on the menhaden management board will be appointed by the Governor of Virginia. The various bills stipulate that there must be one member from the industry, recreational angling community, charter community, industry labor, bait community, and several other. There will be a total of 12 members of this body.

As with an appointed position, we must demand that there is fair representation for all voices with the VMRC menhaden group.

All that said, this was a big victory for menhaden. Many groups worked very hard for years to make this a reality. The sportfishing, environmental, and trade communities all came together to make this happen. When we all work towards a common goal, anything can happen. That’s a big lesson to remember.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Recent Articles:

Browse by Category:

Search all Categories

Stand with Us

We rely on our members and donations to keep fighting for a sustainable tomorrow in marine conservation.

By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies. We use cookies to provide you with a great experience and to help our website run effectively. To learn more, please review our privacy policy.