Omega Protein Harms Fisherman Along the East Coast with Refusal to Comply with Regulated Best Practices

Chesapeake Bay Defense Foundation Sept 17, 2019. For Immediate Release

Last week, Omega Protein announced they do not care about the Chesapeake Bay menhaden fishing restrictions set by Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and they will continue fishing in the bay despite breaching the bay cap set by ASMFC.

Virginia Legislatures failed to vote this cap into the law during their last session leaving the state non-compliant with the ASMFC fishery management plan. The Virginia General Assembly failed to adopt the revised Chesapeake Bay Harvest cap along with other components of the new ASMFC management plan. Menhaden, the only fish managed by the Virginia General Assembly rather than the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), stands out as the only fishery not willing to meet the regulated best practices. The ASMFC will have no choice but to report this information to the secretary of commerce.

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Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has the authority to call for a moratorium on menhaden fishing in Virginia until the state meets compliance. This would hurt fishermen up and down the East Coast that use menhaden as the main form of bait for crab and lobster, now that other previously used bait fish fall under protection.

Omega Protein has placed fisheries along the entire East Coast in jeopardy and, by doing so, calls into question the authority of the ASMFC to perform.

Chesapeake Bay Defense Foundation is infuriated this has been allowed to happen. The Virginia legislature has let down the citizens of Virginia with their lack of action. They must call an emergency session in order to hand this fishery over to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission for management like all other fisheries in the great state of Virginia.

We cannot allow the menhaden fishery to shut down because of Omega Proteins over-harvesting inside of the Chesapeake Bay. The livelihoods of thousands of fishermen in the country depend on Virginia’s compliance with the fishery management plan.

Steven Epstein
Chesapeake Bay Defense Foundation

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