A proud fisherman shows his catch. Photo copyright Karine Aigner/iLCPPhoto © Karine Aigner/iLCP

Critical Actions for Restoring Fisheries

Virginia's Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint calls for reducing Bay pollution 60 percent by 2017. Following are two of five critical actions Virginia's next governor and other elected leaders need to take to ensure success.

1. Advance oyster restoration for ecological and economic benefits.

Oysters cannot restore the Chesapeake Bay, but the Bay will never be restored without robust numbers of oysters. Oysters filter Bay water and oyster reefs provide habitat for many marine creatures. Overharvesting, pollution, and disease decimated oysters, but in recent years, oysters have shown signs of recovery. The oyster industry once supported thousands of jobs and added many millions to the economy. Oysters can do so again—and more—if Virginia builds on efforts to grow the fishery and boost restoration.

2. Achieve a science-based population goal for menhaden.

Atlantic menhaden have been called "the most important fish in the sea" because of their essential role in the diets of other fish, birds, and marine mammals. The harvest of these small fish also has supported the bait fishery and a reduction fishery in Reedville that converts menhaden into oil and other products. These fisheries provide hundreds of Virginia jobs. Menhaden numbers have plummeted to record lows, however, threatening Bay ecology and Virginia's economy.

Great Shellfish of the Bay

An adult oyster filters and cleans up to 50 gallons of water per day—gobbling up algae and removing dirt and nitrogen pollution. Click the video to watch the water clear before your eyes.


Osprey catching a fish. Photo by Jerry HughesOysters, menhaden, striped bass, shad, and blue crabs are critical to the health of our waters. Learn How


MenhadenHistorically, menhaden made up 70 percent of an adult rockfish's diet. Today, it's 8 percent. In Virginia, fishing for menhaden-dependent species contributes $236 million to the economy.Learn more


OystersAdding up the cumulative annual losses over the last three decades shows that the decline of oysters has meant a loss of more than $4 billion for the economies of Maryland and Virginia. Find out what it will take to bring them back Read More See how oyster  aquiculture is building a future for the Chesapeake's Oysters Read More

CBF works to restore Virginia's fisheries through a variety of efforts, including oyster and underwater grass restoration and stream and shoreline restoration. Find out more about our work and how you can get involved. Read More

Photos by (top) Jerry Hughes, (center) CBF Staff, (bottom) Unknown

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