Today the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) reduced Virginia’s menhaden harvest by 10 percent to comply with the newly adopted menhaden fishery quota from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Virginia’s harvest was cut from 168,213 metric tons to 151,392 metric tons. The Chesapeake Bay harvest cap remains unchanged.
In August the ASMFC committed to using Ecological Reference Points, which consider menhaden’s important role in the food chain when setting menhaden harvest limits. In October, ASMFC voted to reduce the menhaden catch along the Atlantic Coast by 10 percent. This year Virginia legislators also transferred management of the menhaden fishery from the General Assembly to VMRC.
These developments come after 25 years of effort by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), its conservation partners, and the ASMFC to formally consider the importance of menhaden to the other species that prey on them.
CBF Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued the following statement.
“By considering menhaden’s role in the food chain in catch limits, ASMFC and now Virginia have taken an historic step forward to help ensure healthy fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast. In adopting the revised quota, VMRC is working to ensure enough menhaden will remain in the water to serve as food for larger fish and other wildlife while also supporting sustainable fisheries. This action also keeps Virginia in compliance with the ASMFC’s menhaden management plan.”