The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

Menhaden Numbers Strong, Quota to Rise

An innovative new technique to assess the health of a fish population that set lower triggers for catch quotas has found that menhaden — probably the most controversial catch in Virginia — are doing even better than expected.

As a result, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission increased its coastwide quota for menhaden by 20%, while leaving its cap on the Chesapeake Bay catch at 51,000 metric tons.

Sports fishermen have pressed for years for more limits on the menhaden catch, arguing that Reedville-based Omega Proteins fleet is taking too many fish, and leaving the population too low to help the popular, if overfished, striped bass that feed on menhaden.

But the new ecological reference point technique for assessing the stock, which looks at how many fish are born and how many die, whether through fishing or being eaten by predators or dying from natural causes, specifically looks at how menhaden population is affecting striped bass and other species.

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