(RICHMOND, VA)—Omega Protein opposition has placed Virginia at risk of falling out of compliance with the coastwide fishery management plan adopted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) this past November. Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued the following statement.
"Enough is enough. Omega Protein, which already catches more than 70 percent of the Atlantic Coast menhaden harvest, has opposed precautionary fisheries management updates at every turn. Because Omega is now fighting modest changes to the coastwide fishery management plan for menhaden, Virginia is at risk of falling out of compliance. This could lead to serious sanctions that could harm Omega's own workers. Omega Protein should not gamble the livelihoods of thousands of hardworking Virginia watermen, charter boat captains, and others who depend on a healthy menhaden population.
"Last fall the ASMFC adopted a menhaden management plan, backed by the latest science, that took into account input from over 150,000 stakeholders. This process is crucial to ensuring sustainable fisheries and a healthy population of menhaden, an important food for predators such as striped bass, osprey, and whales.
"But Omega Protein has continued to oppose ASMFC modifications to the coastwide allocation that allow them to catch even more fish in the ocean than they already do, as well as a Chesapeake Bay harvest cap based on what the company already catches. This opposition remains, despite ASMFC having already reconsidered this issue in Virginia's favor in November. Omega successfully lobbied for Virginia to appeal the ASMFC plan. Now that the appeal has been withdrawn, Omega is still lobbying against legislation to bring Virginia into compliance with the coastwide fishery management plan adopted by ASMFC.
"One company is holding up Virginia's implementation of a fisheries plan that was adopted overwhelmingly by states all along the Atlantic, threatening the environment and the economy. We look forward to working with legislators and all stakeholders to ensure Virginia remains a strong partner in cooperative coastwide fisheries management by implementing the ASMFC plan."
News: The Daily Press Time for Va. bill runs out, higher menhaden quota remains