October 28, 2019. Virginia is out of compliance!
Will Wonders never cease? We don’t believe what just happened. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Menhaden Management Board voted today, to find the Commonwealth of Virginia “out of compliance” on Menhaden Management. Omega Proteins action to exceed the Chesapeake Bay Cap of 51,000 MT backfired on them. The vote was unanimous by all of the ASMFC states, with only the National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA abstaining. This action will result in the overage being deducted from the 2020 Quota. Omega tried to justify their actions with bad weather days and the 87,100 MT tons written into the VA code. Moreover, they tried to explain their self-imposed limit of 67,000 MT for the 2019 harvest when added to the 2018 harvest of 32,000 MT would result in the 2 year average being less than the 51,000 MT Bay cap. This irresponsible action didn’t work!
The Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Assn. applauds the Menhaden Management Board for taking this action. Moreover, we applaud Commissioner Bowman for his comments in favor of this action. This action now goes to the Interstate Fisheries Management Policy Board (ISMFP) on Thursday October 31, 2019 for their action and then hopefully on the U.S. Department of Commerce. This action also clearly indicates it is time to transfer the management out of the General Assembly to VMRC. VSSA will advocate for the Department of Commerce to shut down the Menhaden Reduction Fishery in the Chesapeake Bay until the General Assembly lowers the Bay cap to the ASMFC level or transfers the management to VMRC.
Today’s “out of compliance” action will not do anything for our Striped Bass fishery this year, but the reduction in the menhaden harvest may provide more forage for Striped Bass in years to come. Additionally, this is a small victory for cleaner waters in the Chesapeake Bay since menhaden are filter feeders.
Hallelujah! Thank you ASMFC Menhaden Management Board.
October 13, 2019. VSSA, our members, the angling public, and anyone who cares about the health of the Chesapeake Bay are deeply disappointed in our current situation regarding menhaden. Since VSSA was formed in 2015 menhaden has been at the top of our agenda and we are concerned that little to no progress has been made in this area. Having said that, we will not give up and will continue the fight. In 2016 We formed the Virginia Menhaden Alliance so any organization or club could collaborate to support the wise management of menhaden. VSSA also joined the networks with many organizations that have this common goal. ASMFC officially lowered the bay cap to 51,000 metric tons but our General Assembly has yet to pass a bill to implement this. Technically, with no Virginia law to lower the bay cap we are out of compliance. VSSA led a petition we sent to the Department of Commerce requested the federal government take action now to find Virginia out of compliance. We appreciate all the signatures. The angler comments in the petition were inspiring. Here is the federal government response to our petition. We spoke to NOAA fisheries once we were notified that Omega has officially exceeded the bay cap. Alan Risenhoover (301) 427-8500 stated that his office must be officially notified by ASMFC before any action could be taken by the federal government. The ASMFC meeting where this decision should be made will be on Monday, October 28 at 1:45 pm. We are concerned that ASMFC will not take action and either kick the can down the road or raise the bay cap. If anyone can attend that can help influence this meeting it would be appreciated. Omega published a letter on this matter and we find their response totally unacceptable as it implies they are able to set their own quotas and rules regardless of what fishery managers decide. Last month VSSA formed a task force whose mission is to turn our attention to our representatives in Virginia to get the management of menhaden out of the General Assembly who know nothing about menhaden managment and transfer management to VMRC where it belongs. The task force is asking everyone to contact the Governor and their representative in both the House and Senate and ask if they support menhaden conservation in the Chesapeake Bay. We are asking everyone to write a letter to the Governor’s office. You can write your own or just print this letter, sign and mail. We want to flood the Governor’s office will letters. To contact your representative, please go to this website to find out who your representatives and ask the following questions (at a minimum) https://www.virginia.gov/services/whos-my-legislator/
1. Are you aware that a single foreign owned company in Reedville, VA is taking large numbers of menhaden from the Chesapeake Bay?
2. Are you aware this company is over the bay quota set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)?
3. Would you support a bill to move management from the GA to VMRC who manages every other saltwater fish in Virginia?
4. Would you be willing to contact other Senators / Delegates to gather support for this bill?
5. Do you consent to this conversation being summarized on the open web for voters to see?
You can use this form to take notes during your call. We are asking that you summarize the answers on this site http://joinvssa.org/forum/ and provide your comments on our website under the appropriate district. Our goal is to get as many Senators and Delegates involved no matter whether that district is located adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay or not. The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and it is being destroyed by a foreign owned company who does not care about anything other than sending profits to Canada.
Thank you for your support.
August 7, 2019. Attention All Virginia Anglers!
The Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Assn (VSSA) is working to ensure the long term sustainability of Virginia’s fisheries. Our purpose is to provide a strong voice in all matters relating to saltwater fishing.
This is your opportunity to engage with your state representatives on important matters such as menhaden, a critical forage fish.
Some legislators want to better regulate this industry while others support the status quo.
• The reduction industry harvest in the bay is down over 50% in the past decade (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission -ASMFC data); Omega Protein has stated “there is no scientific evidence of menhaden depletion in the bay.”
• Many Chesapeake Bay anglers have observed a decline first hand.
• Menhaden are valuable filter feeders and help clean the bay waters.
• Many fish rely on menhaden for forage, especially striped bass which are also in decline and new restrictions are coming soon; a recent study concluded that striped bass have been reduced by 28% coast-wide as a result of the reduction industry. The striped bass fishery contributes over $100 million a year to Virginia’s economy.
• Menhaden are the only fish managed by the Virginia General Assembly rather than the professional fisheries managers at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC).
Menhaden bills are introduced every year in the Virginia General Assembly but fail to get out of Senate or House Committees.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Call or write your district’s political representatives (incumbents and challengers) for the Va. House and Senate!
https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov and ask them:
1. What is your view on menhaden and their management in Virginia, especially the Chesapeake Bay?
2. Do you/will you support moving regulatory authority to the VMRC? Why/why not?
3. What is your view on Virginia failing to pass legislation to lower the bay harvest cap of the reduction industry, per the 2017 ASMFC directive?
Please join us in engaging our political representatives on matters important to recreational fisherman.
VSSA does not endorse or oppose any candidates for public office.
March 30, 2019. Thank you concerned citizens of Virginia. We have 3156 signatures and are putting the letter to Secretary Ross in the mail today.
February 27, 2019. Please sign our petition to get the Federal Government to step in to find Virginia out of compliance on menhaden management.
January 31, 2019. Here we go again. In the Virginia General Assembly, both the Senate and House failed to pass a bill out of committee that would transfer the Management of Menhaden over to VMRC. VSSA Board member Steve Atkinson spoke at both the Senate and House hearings. He was so frustrated after the Senate meeting, he wrote the letter below.
So Virginia will remain out of compliance with the ASMFC mandate to reduce the harvest of Menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay. It will be interesting to see what ASMFC Menhaden Management Board does in their meeting on Feb. 7 2019. I bet they do nothing and kick the can down the road again. What do you think?
January 1, 2019. Happy New Year from VSSA. Omega Protein seeking to certify its menhaden reduction fishery as sustainable through the Marine Stewardship Certification (MSC). We have sent a letter in opposition to this certification as we believe menhaden continues to decline year after year. If you believe the removal of large numbers of menhaden every year is not sustainable then please join us by sending your comments in not later than January 14, 2019 by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with copy to email@example.com. Or you can use our form below to send your comments. You can use our comments or edit to personalize to your preference. Thank you for supporting VSSA.
December 26, 2018. Omega Protein is seeking to get certification that their fishing is sustainable. VSSA does not agree and want to prevent this certification.
July 8, 2018. ASMFC warns Virginia on being out of compliance on the Bay Cap and Virginia’s reply. It will be interesting to see what happens at the August ASMFC Menhaden Management Board Meeting. Technically, Virginia is out of Compliance. What will ASMFC do? VSSA is weighing our options to figure out the best options to bring Virginia into compliance.
June 29, 2018. Good Article in the Richmond Times Dispatch on the Politics of Menhaden
January 23, 2018. Click here for the current status of the appeal.
January 17. 2018. Virginia had a victory at the November 2017 ASMFC meeting with the lowering of the bay cap from 87,000 MT to 51,000 MT. It is very upsetting to us to learn that Virginia submitted an appeal to attempt to reverse the decisions from the November 2017 meeting. The letter below has made its way to be considered for the February 8, 2018 ASMFC agenda. There are too many lies and inconsistencies in the letter below to reconcile. The most egregious is notion that no scientific evidence is available to suggest that localized depletion is occurring the Chesapeake Bay. How about the scientific evidence from direct testimony from thousands of anglers who spend significant time on the water year after year all saying the same thing, “That menhaden stocks in the bay continue to decline year after year. That what is available in the bay is but a fraction of what it once was.” How can anyone say this direct testimony from so many anglers should not be counted as scientific evidence? Our problem is our fishery scientist don’t spend time on the water, they spend all their time reading technical documents.
We are asking all anglers from Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Delaware sound off now by sending an email to ASMFC not later than January 30, 2018. Feel free to edit the email to use your own words. The more personalized messages they receive the more effective we are. Please share this page with all anglers.
Here is a copy of the VSSA letter sent on January 17, 2018. http://joinvssa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/VSSA-Menhaden-Appeal-011718.pdf
14 Nov 2017.
ASMFC Menhaden Management Board Meetings, there was a significant amount of parliamentary maneuvering between the states. However, we did score one tremendous win today. The Chesapeake Bay Cap was reduced to 51,000 Metric Tons. Below is a rundown of the issues, along with the VSSA position and final outcome. In my view, the final outcome was not a total bust. We were essentially successful or partially successful on 4 of the 8 of the issues contained in Amendment 3. Unfortunately, I continue to believe the board’s actions were irresponsible on Ecological Reference Points (ERP’s) considering the historic and unprecedented number of 153,000 written comments supporting implementing ERP’s now. In my view, ERP’s was the major issue in this amendment.
• Ecological Reference Points -VSSA advocated for Option E, implementing Ecological Reference Points now. The board voted to implement Option B, essentially maintaining status quo and the single species management for 2018 and 2019.
• Total Allowable Coastwide Catch – VSSA advocated maintaining the TAC at the current level; the board voted in a new TAC of 216,000 MT representing an 8% increase. It could have been worse; there were motions to raise it as high as 240,000 MT which were thankfully defeated.
• Allocation Method – VSSA advocated giving each state a fixed minimum of 2% of the coastwide quota with the remainder distributed based on historical landings. The board voted to give each state .5% with no rollover of unused quota. I view this as getting more than what we wanted
• Quota Transfers – VSSA advocated no quota transfers between states; the board voted to continue allowing Quota Transfers between states.
• Quota Rollovers – VSSA advocated removing the provisions for Quota Rollovers. The Board voted to remove the rollover provisions.
• Incidental Catch and By Catch Provisions – VSSA advocated counting the entire cap towards the TAC regardless of catch method. The board voted to continue this option with the current By Catch provisions.
• Episodic Events – VSSA advocated eliminating this provision. The board voted to continue the 1% episodic event set aside for NY through Maine.
• Chesapeake Bay CAP – VSSA advocated decreasing the current cap from 87,000 MT to 51,000MT. The board voted to decrease the cap to 51,000 MT.
In summary, VSSA scored one major and historic victory on reducing the Bay Cap. We were also successful in getting the quota rollover provisions removed, and in getting a fixed minimum amount of the quota assigned to each state thus reducing VA’s share of the Coastwide TAC from 86% to 78.66%. Considering the parliamentary maneuvering between the states that took place, things could have been a lot worse. Amendment 3 is now complete and we have regulations for 2018 and 2019 Menhaden fishery. Let’s hope the work on ERP’s is finished and peer reviewed in time for the 2020 season. Thank you to all for your efforts and helping to develop and write in support of the VSSA positions.
5 Nov 2017. VSSA has partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to provide transportation to the ASMFC meeting. See below for details.
5 Nov 2017. VSSA sent this letter to VMRC in hopes that our Virginia voting board members vote with the will of the people. When you see any VMRC official this week or next, please encourage them to vote for Option E, Ecological Reference Points.
1 Oct 2017. We need all anglers, individuals and organizations concerned about the health of the bay to send comments to ASMFC regarding menhaden now. ASMFC is about to approve Amendment 3 which will change the way menhaden is managed. The future of “the most important fish in the sea” is at stake! The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is now accepting comments on proposed changes to its menhaden management plan changes that could determine whether this vital fish thrives or struggles in the future.
Menhaden a small, silvery, nutrient-rich fish is a vital link in the Chesapeake Bay’s food web. Often called the “most important fish in the sea,” menhaden serve as an important food source for striped bass, birds, and marine mammals. But the Chesapeake Bay has not been seeing the number of young menhaden it did historically, raising concerns for scientists, anglers, and anyone who cares about the health of the Bay.
As ASMFC considers revisions to its fishery management plan, it is essential that menhaden’s vital ecological role be a top priority. Send a message to ASMFC right now before the October 24 deadline. Tell them you want a strong, ecosystem-based management plan for “the most important fish in the sea.”
Now is the moment to implement ecological management for menhaden. We’re advocating management to:
- Ensure menhaden are managed for their important role as a forage fish in the ecosystem ensuring that enough fish are left in the water to support their many predators.
- Guarantee unused quota in menhaden harvests are not carried over into the next year’s harvest.
- Ensure all the menhaden is included in the coast wide Total Allowable Catch (TAC).
- Reduce the current cap on reduction harvest in Chesapeake Bay to address ongoing concerns about low menhaden abundance.
Thank you VSSA members for sending emails to ASMFC regarding Amendment 3. We had almost 200 emails sent.
September 17, 2017. Suggested Talking Points on Amendment 3 for Atlantic Menhaden. There is a series of public hearings on menhaden being held by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). We need as many anglers and conservation minded individuals to show up at one of the Virginia public hearings and sound off. We believe ASMFC will do like last year and take input issue by issue so our recommended talking points are organized in that manner. We have done our best to figure out what will be in the best interest of the recreational angling community so we suggest using our talking points at the public hearings. Feel free to download and read the entire Amendment and formulate your own comments if desired.
Suggest you print these talking points and attend the meeting closest to your location. We have until October 20th, 2017 to get in our written comments so we will send that out later. The Public hearings are as follows:
Potomac River Fisheries Commission September 19, 2017; 6PM Carpenter Building 222 Taylor Street Colonial Beach, VA
Virginia Marine Resources Commission September 20, 2017; 6 PM Northumberland High School 201 Academic Lane Heathsville, VA
Virginia Marine Resources Commission September 21, 2017; 6PM 2600 Washington Avenue, 4th Floor Newport News, VA
We will keep you abreast of this amendment on this VSSA page. Suggest you bookmark this to keep abreast. Thanks for your continued support.
January 17, 2017. VSSA supports the following bills. Please email the delegate expressing your support and if you can go to Richmond this week, attend any of the hearings on these bill and express your support.
Menhaden Bill in Senate Committee
Senator John Cosgrove submitted a bill, SB820, to move the regulation of the Menhaden fish from the General Assembly to the professionals in the Virginia Marine Resource Center (VMRC). This legislation has been pushed to be heard today, January 12th.
SB820 will be heard TODAY the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources, which meets 30 minutes after adjournment of the floor session. Legislators begin the floor session at noon, and adjourn when the daily business is complete, which can range from 30 min to 2 hours. I know it is a short notice, but please do what you can to let the committee hear your voices:
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources 1/2 hour upon adjournment Senate Room B
*Click HERE for the list of legislators on the committee
Delegate Knight has submitted three bills that encompass the Menhaden issue. HB1576 & HB1577 are the same pieces of legislation that we sponsored last year. HB1576 will restrict Menhaden fishing by distance from the shoreline, and HB1577 is a companion bill to SB820 that will transfer the regulation from the General Assembly to the VMRC. Click HERE to view the members of the Chesapeake Subcommittee that will vote on this legislation.
The NEW piece of legislation is HJ572, which asks an independent body to study the effects of transferring the regulation to the VMRC. This study allows a different subcommittee, Studies, to take up the Menhaden issue. If this legislation passes, it will take a year to review, and the results will be provided to the General Assembly prior to the 2018 Legislative Session.
Virginia House of Delegates – Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources – Chesapeake Subcommittee
|Chair:||Wilt, Tony O.|
|Meeting Time:||04:00 PM|
|Add to Outlook||Add to Google|
|Location:||5th Floor East Conference Room|
|Barbara Teague, firstname.lastname@example.org, 804-698-1543||Scott Meacham, email@example.com, 804-786-3591 ext. 209 David Barry, firstname.lastname@example.org, 804-786-3591, ext. 224|
On the agenda for this meeting are 7 Bill(s)/Resolution(s) in 1 block(s)
Click to view Full Agenda and see more information on this meeting.
January 10, 2017. Thanks to all those who took the time to send their comments to ASMFC. We had over 500 individual emails sent using the VSSA email form submitter. Below is a copy of the letter sent (from over 500 anglers). The next step is for ASMFC to develop the full Amendment and VSSA will monitor this action as draft become available. Thank you for your continued support.
December 22, 2016. Call to Action. We need all VSSA members and all anglers in Virginia to sound off on the Public Information Document (PID) for the management of menhaden through Amendment 3 being developed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Please use this form to send in your comments. Feel free to personalize as you feel appropriate. Don’t forget to include your contact information and remember to put you name at the bottom of the text. We need this to be done NLT than 5 pm, January 4th, 2017. More information here.
December 19, 2016. Here is a copy of the VSSA letter sent to ASMFC regarding Amendment 3 PID. VSSA written comments Amendment 3 PID 121916
December 3, 2016.
Call to Action all anglers in Virginia. We need your help to attend one of the public hearings to sound off about Menhaden. We have a chance to help shape how menhaden is managed for future generations. We need to get this right. Menhaden—a small, silvery, nutrient-rich fish—is referred to as the “most important fish in the sea,” and for good reason. It’s a vital link in the Chesapeake Bay’s food web, so any threat to menhaden would also threaten countless other Chesapeake critters.
VSSA will be at the public hearing on Dec 5 at pm at the VMRC building but we need more anglers to attend to sound off to demonstrate our solidarity.
This month, you’ll have a chance to stand up for this critical fish as it faces potential new threats along the Atlantic Coast. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)—the group that manages and conserves nearshore fish species—is currently beginning revisions to its fishery management plan. The new plan will include important guidelines—called “ecological reference points” (ERPs)—that will help fishery managers determine menhaden catch levels along the Atlantic Coast to ensure enough of these vital fish remain in the water to serve as food for striped bass, birds, and marine mammals.
Currently, ASMFC sets catch quotas in a way that ignores menhaden’s role in the food web. In fact, at its annual meeting, ASMFC voted to increase the menhaden quota for the Atlantic Coast by 6.5% without knowing the impact of that action on the food web.
ASMFC recently took the first step towards its amended plan by approving a document detailing different methods to manage menhaden based on their role as a critical food source. The “Public Information Document” (PID) lays out a series of options for the public to consider.We need your help telling the ASMFC which options best protect the ecological role of menhaden in the Bay and along the coast.
The Virginia Menhaden Alliance is hereby formed. The Virginia Menhaden Alliance is a body of individuals, businesses, conservation and angling minded organizations whose mission is to advocate for wise management of menhaden in Chesapeake Bay and coastal areas of Virginia. Alliance members include:
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association
Tidewater Anglers Club…
Great Bridge Fisherman’s Association
Virginia Beach Anglers Club
Portsmouth Anglers Club
CCA VA and CCA MD
Virginia Conservation Network
Senator Frank Wagner
Delegate Barry Knight
Chesapeake Bay Defenders
October 26, 2016. The Virginia Menhaden Alliance worked hard with alliance members to convince the ASMFC Menhaden Board to keep our quota at the current level with no increases. Our efforts failed. Even our own state, Virginia, voted for the increase and were advocating for even more increases to 10%. The ASFMC board met on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 and voted to increase the catch by 6.45%.
October 19, 2016. The Virginia Menhaden Alliance has created a facebook page as a tool to keep all abreast of alliance activities that are of general interest to the public. Please like and share this page to help spread the word.
September 21, 2016. We held our second meeting on September 21 and continued our dialog on how to tackle the menhaden issue for Virginia. Our plans are coming together on two main fronts (1) at the federal level with NOAA/NMFS and the ASMFC and (2) at the state level focusing on what we can do for 2016/2017 legislative cycle in our state government. Many angling clubs and conservation organizations have signed on to become what will from this day forward be known as the Virginia Menhaden Alliance. We will soon involve the angling public and public in general so you can join our fight to conserve menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia waters. If you believe your organization can assist or may want to be part of this alliance, please contact VSSA soonest.
August 17, 2016. We had a great first meeting tonight with good participation including Senator Frank Wagner and Del Barry Knight’s aide and many organizations concerned about menhaden. We talked about everything from new bills for the GA, changing VA reps to the ASMFC menhaden board, ASMFC amendment 3 and Oct meeting, protecting bay menhaden by reducing bay quota or simply not allowing bay fishing until Sept to give them time to mature, networking with other states, energizing the public, highlighting violations, get press and TV involved more. More to follow as we get organized.
Senator Frank Wagner making some excellent points.
Dustin Rinehart (Del Barry Knight Aid) updating the group on what Barry Knight’s plans are for menhaden.
Leaders from numerous organizations in Virginia concerned about menhaden.
VSSA and CBF are forming a menhaden coalition of fishing clubs and organizations to join forces to try to figure out the best approach to reduce localized depletion of our menhaden. The meeting on Menhaden working group session is on Wednesday August 17, 2016 at the CBF Brock Environmental Center, 3663 Marlin Bay Ct, Virginia Beach, VA 23455 from 6 pm to 9 pm. So far we have invited:
- Bull Island Anglers Club
- Central Virginia Sportfishing Association
- Chincoteague Island Charterboat Association
- Eastern Shore of Virginia Anglers Club
- Eastern Shore of Virginia Marlin Club
- Great Bridge Fisherman’s Association
- Norfolk Angler’s Club
- Northern Neck Anglers Club
- Peninsula Saltwater Sportfishing Association
- Portsmouth Anglers Club
- Tidewater Anglers Club
- Tidewater Kayak Angler’s Association
- Virginia Beach Angler’s Club
- Virginia Charterboat Association
- Virginia Coastal Fly Angler’s Club
- Coastal Conservation Association of Virginia
- Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association
- Recreational Fishing Alliance
- Chesapeake Bay Defenders
We are not asking individual anglers to attend at this time, just a representative from organizations. We do want your thoughts, ideas, and recommendations on what we should be doing as a coalition to reduce overfishing of menhaden. You can send your thoughts and ideas to email@example.com.
VSSA remains cash poor and if you are able to donate to help this cause, please click here to donate. We are an approved 501-C3 Non-Profit so your donations are tax deductible and very much appreciated. If you so designate, your contribution will be used solely to the menhaden issue.
Bookmark this page to stay abreast of what we are doing for menhaden.
VSSA Goal: Significantly reduce or eliminate industrial scale allocation. Support legislation to move management to VMRC. Address both at federal and state levels with emphasis on federal.
Here are the VSSA documents on menhaden sent to date.