Omega Protein Statement on ASMFC Vote to Postpone Menhaden Non-Compliance Finding

REEDVILLE, VA, August 8, 2018 (Accesswire) – Yesterday, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Menhaden Management Board voted to postpone a decision on whether to find the Virginia menhaden fishery out of compliance with the Commission’s management plan over the fact that the state has not reduced the cap on the harvest of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay. Omega Protein believes the decision by the Commission will allow the state, the Company, fishery stakeholders, and unions representing fishermen to develop an equitable solution and an appropriate harvest level in the Chesapeake Bay.

As noted at the meeting by NOAA attorney Chip Lynch, finding a recognized sustainable fishery to be in non-compliance would be an extraordinary and unprecedented step by the ASMFC. Specifically, he noted that this would be “the first time ever…that the federal government would receive a non-compliance referral for a fishery that is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. And there is record evidence from the leadership of the Commission that the measure is not related to conservation.”

“The law clearly states that a state can only be found in non-compliance if it has failed to implement regulations ‘necessary for the conservation of the fishery,'” said Ben Landry, Director of Public Affairs for Omega Protein. “It is also clear that there is nothing in the current operations of the menhaden fishery that would justify a non-compliance finding.”

The menhaden fishery is currently being managed sustainably. In its most recent stock assessment in 2017, the Commission found that menhaden were not overfished, nor were they experiencing overfishing. The stock is healthy enough that the Commission has raised the coastwide quota in each of the past three years.

Omega Protein looks forward to continuing to work with state and federal regulators and other Bay stakeholders on ways to maintain a healthy fishery.