By this time, you should all know about the menhaden situation. If you don’t, we will catch you up.

The current focus of angst among fishermen is Omega blatantly exceeding the Bay Cap on menhaden harvest. The Bay Cap is the maximum amount of menhaden allowed to be taken from the Chesapeake Bay.  We didn’t use the term “blatant” lightly. Omega sent a letter telling the Governor and everyone else that they were going to do it without a care in the world.

You know, the weather is bad on the water, and their steel ships are only about 200 feet long. So, to heck with the largest estuary in the country, we want to kill more menhaden and burn less fuel. I mean come on…catching 100,000,000 lbs. of a critically important forage species from the nation’s largest estuary certainly has no impact. Gosh, it silly to even think so. But, that’s what 51,000 mt equals as far as we can cypher (Doing my best Jethro Bodine).  

This Bay Cap was set as many numbers are set in fisheries management. The managing body takes a few years of harvest numbers and averages them out. That’s what was done but Omega doesn’t want to recognize it.  

Back in 2017, the Bay Cap was lowered from 87,000 mt to 51,000 mt. Why? Well, the overall harvest was increased by 8% to a total of 216,000 mt. (approx. 400,000,000 lbs. of menhaden). So, the Bay Cap was lowered to reflect an actual cap. The 51,000 mt is actually closer to harvest average than the 87,000 mt. Omega was upset about this. They felt that it was purely political to only be able to catch 110,000,000 lbs. of menhaden from a natural treasure with 5000-foot purse seine nets. We must be eco-terrorists to ask for so much!

Unsurprisingly, Omega ignored the rules because they are Omega and think we all owe them something. After kicking the can down the road for several meetings, the commission found Omega out of compliance at the latest meeting in October.  

What does non-compliance mean for a fishery? Well, it means that the decision is sent up the chain of command to the Sec. of Commerce’s desk. It will be the Secretary’s decision. He has 30 days to make the finding. If he finds them out of compliance, then the fishery will cease to operate until they decide to become compliant. Secretary Ross can also give them 6 months to become compliant before the moratorium would become active.  

We thought long and hard about the best way to support the non-compliance finding. It isn’t the best idea to flood the Commerce Department with emails. Here’s our letter – we’d like you to sign on. We will send the letter on Wednesday.  

It seems reasonable to think that if your livelihood depends on abundant fish populations, you would matter to the Commerce Department. So, please go to our Facebook or Instagram page and comment with your name, state, and business name, if  applicable. If you are a passionate recreational fisherman, don’t worry! Your voice matters too. Please comment with your just your name and state!  

14 Responses

  1. Please put a stop to this travesty and enforce the harvest limits on Menhaden in the Chesapeake with legal action and severe fines for non-compliance before it is too late for the fishery to recover.

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