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Lawmakers eye changes to menhaden fishery harvest

March 1, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A House committee has advanced a bill to bring Virginia into compliance with an interstate body’s decision regarding Atlantic menhaden.

The bill, which narrowly cleared the committee Wednesday, commits the state to pursuing an appeal of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s decision.

Under the commission’s quota decision, the total coastal harvest would increase by about 8 percent, and Virginia’s cap for fish caught outside the Chesapeake Bay would increase from 169,000 metric tons to about 171,000 metric tons.

But the limit for menhaden caught in the bay with huge seine nets would fall from about 87,200 metric tons to 51,000 metric tons.

The bill is fiercely opposed by Omega Protein, which operates Virginia’s only menhaden processing plant and takes more than 70 percent of the entire East Coast harvest.

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