A decision Tuesday to raise the commercial harvest cap for Atlantic menhaden by 10 percent means there's joy in Reedville, home to the only menhaden rendering plant left on the East Coast, an industry expert says.

The plant located on the Northern Neck had cut 35 workers, including a commercial fishing boat and its crew, after a regional regulatory commission trimmed the coast-wide harvest by 20 percent in 2012. Commissioners did so after a stock survey indicated the little fish was in big trouble.

Now that a new stock assessment indicates otherwise, commissioners voted to reverse half of that reduction and Texas-based plant owner Omega Protein Corp. said it's preparing to hire about two dozen workers and put another boat back in the water.

"It's an exciting time in Reedville," Omega spokesman Ben Landry said in a phone interview after the vote. "When we get news like we got today, the whole community kind of lifts its spirits."

The menhaden fishing season begins Monday, Landry said, so hiring will begin as early as next week.

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