National Fisherman


The perennial battle over a small, oily baitfish appears poised, finally, for resolution in the General Assembly, with matching bills to develop a menhaden management plan making their way through the legislature.
The Senate passed its bill Wednesday; the House looks poised to follow suit. That represents a tidal shift in the annual back-and-forth between factions fighting over control of the menhaden population, which plays a critical role in the marine ecology and the economy of communities along the Chesapeake Bay.

Of course, it didn't come without prodding.

Virginia is the only state on the Atlantic coast where lawmakers, rather than scientists, manage the menhaden fishery. Omega Protein, the Texas-based company that runs a commercial menhaden fishing operation in Reedville, has sought to keep it that way. The company, which grinds the fish into dietary supplements, fertilizer and food for livestock and pets, has proven a generous contributor to lawmakers' political campaigns, distributing $124,250 over the past three years.

But a recent decision by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to require Virginia to reduce the annual catch - or face federal sanctions - has had the remarkable effect of enlightening lawmakers to the folly of opposing the use of science to inform management of the fishery.

Read the full story at the Virginian-Pilot>>

Inside the Industry

The Downeast Salmon Federation has received a major grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to ensure and improve the water quality of eastern Maine’s most important rivers, according to the Ellsworth American.

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Louisiana crab fishermen and their catch are feeling the pressure of a downturn in the state economy, and a resulting upturn of people entering the fishery.

“It’s a crazy business right now,” said Pete Gerica, the New Orleans fisherman who now serves as president or the Louisiana Crab Task Force, a legislatively-created board of industry voices that makes recommendations to state government.

Read more...

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