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They are over fished. Too much by catch is caught. Lack of recreational and commercial fish that could be caught. Menhaden is a filter feeder. With the lack of menhaden our waters go slack with oxygen. These are just a few reasons that we need Menhaden in our waters. Also don't forget that Oysters and clams are also filter feeders. Look at there history of them also.
 

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Slack with oxygen? I think you mean to be saying that menhaden are filter feeders that convert free nutrients within the water column into protein or waste that sinks to the bottom by eating microscopic plants and animals thus reducing the potential for algae blooms that deplete the oxygen.

Some of the other issues are

Ecosystem management supplying sufficient forage for the predator species which in addition to species important to recreational fishing like flounder, striper, bluefish, etc. includes sharks, sea birds, whales, dolphins, ospreys, etc..

Local depletion because a large fraction of the menhaden harvested for the reduction industry has been harvested within Virgina waters. Note the reduction fishery has 85% of the quota.

Any time they work a purse seine in 35 feet of water or less, they catch everything in the water column and the waters are basically devoid of recreationally important species for at least 3 or 4 days.

When they do harvest a local area (like they did off Virginia Beach last summer) they basically take the menhaden that were holding the recreationally important species in the local area.

Less documented . . . bycatch of recreationally important fish. There were studies done in the late 80s early 90s when the striped bass happened to be at a minimum.
 

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As stated Menhaden play a critical role in various ecosystems. Some fine points have been made above but the opposition will counter with data reflecting a current increase in the reported biomass combined with fishing mortality below target levels. The challenge is in determining an appropriate "philosophical" approach on how best to manage the sustainability of such a critical resource. Recent data suggests fecundity is equivalent to historic levels however the biomass is close to 1/3 of the assessment done in the mid 1950s.

Data can be massaged and manipulated to tell whatever story the stakeholders with the deepest pockets and greatest influence wish to tell. The "perceived" problem with menhaden as it pertains to Virginia waters is that it is the only species managed by the GA rather than the VMRC and this "potentially" allows for a conflict of interest when you begin to consider the lobbying that occurs by special interest groups. The "perception" is that organizations like Omega Protein would push for expanding quotas given the recent data trends and the politicians in the GA would be more inclined to assuage the desires of the aforementioned than an organization like VMRC. It boils down to who is best suited to steward the long term viability of the species.
 

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The coast wide quotas and spit between sectors are set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC). They set them knowing that it takes legislative action to actually turn them into law. Omega will be pushing to increase the quota. Even if it were to go to VMRC I doubt that they would do anything other than go with the ASMFC mandated quotas.

The problem with the current management scheme is that it is set up for maximum sustainable yield on a species by species basis. Where maximum sustainable yield is defined as "the maximum level at which a natural resource can be routinely exploited without long-term depletion." The problem with this management method is that it does not allow for species by species interaction and the use of one species as forage by another species.

With respect to VMRC they are directed (by state code) that

"Any fishery management plan prepared, and any regulation promulgated to implement the plan, shall be consistent with the following standards for fishery conservation and management:

1. Conservation and management measures shall prevent overfishing while achieving the optimum yield from each fishery. The "optimum yield" of a fishery means the amount of fish or shellfish which will provide the greatest overall benefit to the Commonwealth, with particular reference to commercial fishing for food production and to recreational fishing;"

Again the fuzzy part is what about ecosystem uses of a given species. The other interesting part of that law is that the omega harvest is not really for food production unless you interpret it to include feed for animals like chickens and fish.

Many folks think that

(a) the ecosystem use is the part that is missing on the current menhaden management plan and

(b) specifically within Virginia waters that the management plan and regulations do not effectively deal with the impact of the reduction industry on recreational and (other) commercial fisheries both through depletion of forage and bycatch which is particularly bad in waters less than 35 feet deep. The latter is the reason for the 1 mile from the shore in the bay and 3 miles in the ocean off of Virginia Beach law.
 

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Also someone could correct me on this but they are just using the menhaden to produce fish oil right? Seems to me the fish are more valuable playing their role in the bay ecosystem then being turned into a product with very little proven benefit.
 

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I believe they also use the menhaden to make fertilizers and pet food. Someone correct me if I am wrong on that.
 

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When they do their purse seining, they take everything. I was about one mile off the beach in front of Myrtle Island banging the grey when they ran the net around me and shouted get the xbdy out of their net. I watched tons of grey trout go into the boat.
 

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Isn't it also a fact the over 50% of omegas various products be it oil or fish meal end up in China? They decimate their fishing waters with pollution and over fishing practices so they're forced to rely on a vital resource for a entire ecosystem half around the world... I also believe there was a study done that said your body doesn't absorb the Omega-3 from pills the same as actually consuming fish. Kinda like some other vitamins and "feel good" pills that people take that in all reality don't do a damn thing to improve overall health or well being. And further more what's the major benefit of feeding pigs and chickens fish meal anyway anybody know? Is there a global shortage on chicken feed and pig slop I'm unaware of? I know from experience those two animals are not picky eaters they'll eat anything.
 

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To maintain a healthy aquatic environment in the bay we need the menhaden and the oysters. These two make up the largest percentage of "cleaners" we have in the bay. It has taken decades for the state and "our" elected officials to take action against over harvesting of the shellfish. Now that the wallets of our officials can't be lined with gold anymore, they vote to protect the oysters. With enough of us pushing and voicing our concerns, we may be able to do the same with the menhaden. JMO

My thoughts reside with Tom to the "T"!
 

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A pair of Virginia House of Delegates bills designed to change how menhaden fishing is controlled were shot down Thursday in the General Assembly.

HB150 and 151 were tabled in the Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Chesapeake sub-committee.

Only Delegates Alfonso H. Lopez (D) and R. Lee Ware (R) voted to have the bills advanced.


http://pilotonline.com/news/governm...cle_2ff10127-1614-5d51-963c-cd4dbed51d5c.html

Here are the committee members who killed it, save Lopez and Ware: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+com+H1
 

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I've written to my local VA reps, was a waste of time. I emailed a couple and got generic emails back of "we care about your needs and will look into it" type responses.
 

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A pair of Virginia House of Delegates bills designed to change how menhaden fishing is controlled were shot down Thursday in the General Assembly.

HB150 and 151 were tabled in the Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Chesapeake sub-committee.

Only Delegates Alfonso H. Lopez (D) and R. Lee Ware (R) voted to have the bills advanced.


http://pilotonline.com/news/governm...cle_2ff10127-1614-5d51-963c-cd4dbed51d5c.html

Here are the committee members who killed it, save Lopez and Ware: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+com+H1
Well, it shouldn't come as a big surprise. Money Talks! Who knew? Omega just goes too deep into the pockets in Richmond. I've written about it before. Lt. Governor Ralph Northam tried unsuccessfully several times to get it passed, and each time it would show up in some Agriculture sub committee, it would not even get seconded because no one wants to go on record with a vote, so they stonewall it. Say it isn't worth the time. If it isn't broken, why try to fix it? Sorry, but Richmond is just a broke as Washington, D.C., and its embarrassing.

Just a quick example. Taken from the legislative info system:

HISTORY
12/22/15 House: Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/13/16 16101165D
12/22/15 House: Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
01/13/16 House: Assigned to sub: Subcommittee Chesapeake
01/28/16 House: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote

Again, so no one is on the record!
 

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The only way this will change is if organizations with money (Chesapeake Bay Foundation, put your money where your mouth is and stop blowing it on giant buildings) start backing every candidate running against those who wouldn't support the bill.
 
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