(RICHMOND, VA)—Legislation aiming to protect menhaden and keep Virginia in compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) menhaden management plan has failed to advance in Virginia's General Assembly. While HB 1610 passed a key House of Delegates committee last week, yesterday it was referred back to committee before it could be voted on by the full House, effectively killing the bill this session.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore released the following statement.
"First, we would like to recognize the bipartisan leadership of Governor Ralph Northam, his administration, Delegate Barry Knight, and the many others who have been critical in this fight for wise management of Virginia's fisheries.
"It is a disappointment that this common-sense and necessary legislation did not move forward. The modest compromise bill was Virginia's opportunity to support all of its fisheries, all the businesses that depend on a strong menhaden population, and a healthy Bay.
"We still hope a path is found for Virginia to remain in compliance with the ASMFC. Fish don't follow state lines, so the ASMFC process is critical for states to work together on managing fisheries. If Virginia ignores that collaborative process, it would open itself up to possible sanctions and set a dangerous precedent that threatens good fisheries management all along the Atlantic Coast.
"An overwhelming number of Virginia businesses and residents have expressed support for the latest menhaden management plan, which provides both ecological benefits for the Chesapeake Bay and economic benefits for those who harvest menhaden. Moving forward, Virginia must not gamble the health of the Bay's menhaden population just to satisfy the largest harvester of menhaden along the Atlantic Coast."