In an April 28 electronic meeting, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) voted unanimously (9-0) to approve a menhaden regulation that brings Virginia into compliance with federal regulations and avoids a disastrous industry shutdown.
This was the first time VMRC has taken action on menhaden since the General Assembly passed legislation in March that gave authority to MRC to set quotas and management measures for the species.
“I applaud the Commission’s decision to take swift and decisive action to bring Virginia into compliance and avoid implementation of the moratorium that would have hurt Virginia businesses,” said Commissioner Steven G. Bowman. “We strive to be a conservation leader and we will continue to manage this fishery based on the best available science to ensure a healthy future for the coastal communities who depend on a sustainable fisheries and a healthy Chesapeake Bay.”
The US Secretary of Commerce found Virginia out of compliance in December of 2019 and gave the Commonwealth six months to come into compliance with the management plan set forth by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Had Virginia not taken action, the entire menhaden fishery would have shut down on June 17, 2020 impacting workers and other fisheries who rely on menhaden for bait.
“An important part of this process has been public input and I thank everyone on the management advisory committee and the public who provided comments and insights to staff,” said Commissioner Bowman. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission must now determine whether or not Virginia has come into compliance.