HomeOutdoorsNewsVirginia Proposes Curb on Controversial Fishing Practices

Virginia Proposes Curb on Controversial Fishing Practices

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by: Edwin Remsberg/VW PICS/UIG via Getty Image)

Some controversial fishing practices are pushing Virginia officials to reevaluate guidelines and take action. For years now, Virginia anglers and wildlife officials have been facing controversy regarding reduction menhaden fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.

According to reports, various conservation groups as well as sportfishing clubs have made the call asking the Commonwealth of Virginia to take action against this type of fishing. Virginia is the only state, so far, to allow reduction fishing in estuaries such as the iconic Chesapeake Bay.

Now, while the full ask wasn’t granted to these groups, there is a little bit of movement along the lines of these efforts. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) has delivered a proposal hoping to settle the emerging issues.

The Virginia Conservation Officials And Sportfishing Groups Are Seeking A Ban On Menhaden Reduction Fishing

The proposal brought forth by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) likely isn’t the answer that area conservation groups and sportfishing clubs were going for. However, some may say it’s a step in the right direction. These groups were hoping for a ban on menhaden reduction fishing in the famous Chesapeake Bay. However, what Virginia officials offered was a ban on this type of harvesting within a mile offshore. This proposal would also block fishing near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel complex.

According to sportfishing groups and conservation officials, menhaden is a type of baitfish that larger species rely on for food. However, these larger species of fish are facing issues, concerned residents say, because the menhaden are overfished in the Chesapeake Bay area. Forage numbers are down. This means the coveted gamefish numbers are beginning to decline.

One Of The Biggest Companies To Harvest Menhaden Say The Menhaden Are Not Overharvested

One of the major reduction operations in the Chesapeake Bay area is Omega Protein. This company harvests the menhaden fish with purse seine nets. The company uses spotter planes to locate schools of these fish. The boats then move in for the catch.

However, Omega Protein denies the claims from these groups that the menhaden are overharvested in the area. According to Omega Protein’s claims, sportfish numbers continue dropping because anglers are overharvesting these larger fish.

This current proposal from Virginia officials also addresses recent net spills that resulted in a mass kill in the area. These dead fish washed up along the shoreline over the summer. Unfortunately, this is also the height of tourist season and many beachgoers faced beaches full of stinky dead fish.