Commerce Secretary Sides with Recreational Fishermen in Menhaden Case

Industrial fishing giant strikes out twice as it breaks the rules in the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay menhaden boat

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today issued a decision cracking down on overfishing in the Chesapeake Bay and paving the way for better management of the menhaden fishery.

Ross found the state of Virginia out of compliance after foreign-owned Omega Protein willfully violated the fishing cap on menhaden, a key food source for striped bass, in the Chesapeake Bay.
“Secretary Ross made the right move in standing with recreational fishermen,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Reduction fishing for menhaden threatens the livelihoods of thousands of hard-working fishing guides and tackle shop owners and impacts everything from striped bass to whales. Today’s decision holds Omega accountable and sets the stage for improved management of this important forage fish.”

“U.S. Commerce Secretary Ross’ decision to hold Omega Protein accountable for their actions demonstrates clear conservation leadership to the sportfishing and boating industry and anglers along the Atlantic Coast,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “This decision comes at a critical time because menhaden’s top predator, Atlantic striped bass, is currently in poor condition and the Chesapeake Bay is the primary spawning and nursery area for the species. We thank Secretary Ross for recognizing the value menhaden brings to the recreational fishing community and America’s outdoor recreational economy.”

“The ASMFC’s Policy Board has some of the finest fishery managers in the country on it and they unanimously found Virginia out of compliance with the Menhaden Fishery Management Plan. Upholding the ASMFC’s non-compliance finding for Virginia was simply the right thing to do,” said David Sikorski, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland. “We applaud Secretary Ross for defending both the management system and the forage base in the Chesapeake Bay.”

“Implementing responsible conservation practices across all fisheries is essential to the long-term wellbeing of marine ecosystems and we thank Secretary Ross for doing just that by swiftly addressing menhaden overfishing in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Healthy and sustainable forage fish and sportfish stocks are equally important to the recreational boating and fishing community and this decision is a major step toward protecting and rebuilding both of these critical populations.”

Since October, tens of thousands of recreational anglers, dozens of business and organizations, and nine Governors along the east coast, including Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, have all requested that the Secretary take action on this issue. The Virginia General Assembly, which meets in early 2020, must now decide whether to transfer management of menhaden to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission or face a moratorium on fishing for Atlantic menhaden.

According to a recent scientific study, menhaden reduction fishing contributes to a nearly 30 percent decline in striped bass numbers. The striped bass fishing industry contributes $7.8 billion in GDP to the economy along the Atlantic coast.

13 on “Commerce Secretary Sides with Recreational Fishermen in Menhaden Case

  1. Chris

    Glad to see it. Omega is a foreign owned corporation that should not be allowed to pillage our territorial waters!

  2. Andy Casper

    The crack down is a good step forward. Additional stocks could be saved from the annual fish kills that occur in the rivers each year after a spring rain storm that is laden with fertilizers and pesticides. Those schools do not run out of oxygen, that is BS. It happens after a good spring rain but by the time the authorities arrive the tide has changed one or two times. Properties That Border Water Should NOT BE ALLOWED TO TREAT THEIR LAWNS. PERIOD .

  3. Bill

    Do a little research on this company, and you have to wonder whom they have in their pocket. They should have been fined out of business by now.

  4. Richard P Melton

    Thank you Mr. Ross . My question is what is the penalty for Omega who consistently over fish their quota’s? Will it be substantial enough to end their pillaging of our resources or will it amount to a parking ticket offense? Question 2 if they shut sown the Virginia fishery where will omega Go? My opinion is off the coast of NJ. There are many, many more questions to be answered. The pressure on Menhaden is immense from the bait boats for the lobster industry in the north to Omega in the south. Our forage base is in peril, please consider this in your future actions.

  5. APEX

    Predators and prey may reach a better balance if those whiners on the bluefish page carry out their threat to sell their gear and start golfing and those predators at Omega stop turning striper, bluefish, and whale forage into cat food. I’d like to see fewer meat fishermen on the water and even fewer cat videos in the future.

  6. scott

    for all you liberal socialist Trump haters…

    U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross was chosen by Trump to keep America great…

    this is just another example of Trump’s many achievements.

    Thank You Trump
    Thank You U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

  7. Roman

    It’s about time they finally realized what Omega has been doing. We need to kick these foreign boats out of our waters. The one thing this report didn’t mention is what is their punishment? Like usual, a slap on the wrist? I don’t trust the Virginia delegation. They have been backing Omega for years. How much money have they put in their pockets over the years. I will believe it when I see it. What country does Omega belong to? Punish them with sanctions!!

  8. JIm

    More bait for the Hudson River Stripers and I hope better fishing.

  9. Mike

    Cooke moved the boats off of Omega to a company called Ocean Harvesters. Everything is centered around Suffolk, VA area, which includes the Wanchese facility they own. Reading some of Cooke press release it seems the VA legislature needs to be more proactive. Its the usual bs it is all about the Benjamins.

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