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Virginia lawmakers introduce fish conservation bills

Virginia State Senator Lynwood Lewis and State Delegate Ken Plum introduced two bills (SB791/HB1448) that would require the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to adopt regulations necessary to manage Atlantic menhaden. In response, NMMA applauded both pieces of legislation, calling the measures critical in the fight to protect forage fish.

In December, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued a decision cracking down on overfishing in the Chesapeake Bay and paving the way for better management of the menhaden fishery. In a move celebrated by the recreational boating and fishing community, Secretary Ross found the state of Virginia out of compliance after Omega Protein willfully violated the fishing cap on menhaden – a key food source for striped bass – in the Chesapeake Bay.

According to a recent scientific study, the reduction in menhaden resulted in a nearly 30% decline in striped bass numbers. The striped bass fishing industry contributes $7.8 billion in GDP to the economy along the Atlantic coast.

NMMA is working with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and a coalition of additional boating and fishing organizations to pass these bills.

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