Commerce Secretary Sides with Recreational Fishermen in Menhaden Case

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued a determination breaking down over fishing in the Chesapeake Bay and paving the way for greater management of the menhaden fishery.

Ross found the nation of Virginia from compliance following foreign-owned Omega Protein willfully breached the fishing cap on menhaden, a vital food source for striped bass, at the Chesapeake Bay.

“U.S. Commerce Secretary Ross’ decision to maintain Omega Protein accountable to their activities shows clear conservation direction to the game fishing and fishing industry and anglers across the Atlantic Coast,” stated Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “This decision comes at a crucial time since menhaden’s top predator, Atlantic striped bass, is now in bad condition and the Chesapeake Bay is the principal spawning and nursery area for the species. We thank Secretary Ross for realizing the worthiness menhaden brings to the recreational fishing community and America’s outdoor recreational market.”

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“Secretary Ross made the ideal movement in comparison with amateur sailors,” stated Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of their Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Discount fishing for menhaden threatens the livelihoods of tens of thousands of hard-working fishing guides and tackle store owners and affects everything from striped bass . Now’s decision holds Omega liable and sets the stage for enhanced management of the important forage fish”

“The ASMFC’s Policy Board has a number of the best fishery managers in the nation on this and they found Virginia from compliance with all the Menhaden Fishery Management Plan. Upholding that the ASMFC’s non-compliance discovering for Virginia was only the ideal thing to do,” stated David Sikorski, executive manager of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland. “We applaud Secretary Ross for protecting the management system and the forage base in the Chesapeake Bay.”

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“Implementing accountable conservation techniques across all fisheries is indispensable to the long-term health of marine ecosystems and we invite Secretary Ross for doing this by quickly addressing menhaden overfishing from the Chesapeake Bay,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “sustainable and healthy forage fish and sportfish stocks are equally important to the recreational fishing and boating community and this choice is a significant step in rebuilding and protecting the two these vital populations.”

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Since October, tens of thousands of amateur anglers, dozens of companies and associations, and nine Governors across the east shore , such as Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, have requested that the Secretary take actions on this situation. The Virginia General Assembly, which meets in ancient 2020, should now determine whether to move management of menhaden into the Virginia Marine Resources Commission or confront a moratorium.

According to a new scientific research, menhaden reduction fishing results in some nearly 30 percent decrease in striped bass amounts. The striped bass fishing sector contributes $7.8 billion in GDP to the market along the Atlantic shore.