Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Marine Resources Commission
Marine Resources Commission
[4 VAC 20 ‑ ]
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8/21/23  12:36 am
Commenter: Jaclyn Higgins, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Support for limiting menhaden purse seining areas (on behalf of 1,485 individuals)

On behalf of 1,485 individual signers in support of Petition 392:

I support Petition 392 to reduce damage being done to fragile Virginia marine habitats and seagrass beds by industrial menhaden purse seine nets. Chesapeake Bay is the primary spawning and nursery area for up to 90% of the Atlantic striped bass stock, and from red drum and weakfish to ospreys and blue crabs, countless species rely on healthy nearshore areas to survive.

Striped bass are classified as “overfished” by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and in the Bay habitat loss is a major contributor to the inability to recover bass populations. Recreational anglers have done everything they can for years to help improve the striped bass stock, including reducing catch by nearly 20% and agreeing to a 3-inch slot limit to save the adult population. It is now time to manage another major contributor to the species' inability to recover: the menhaden industry, which not only takes away over 100 million pounds of menhaden (which make up at least 30% of the striped bass' diet) from the Bay each year, but disturbs critical nearshore habitat necessary for many iconic Virginia species.

Menhaden purse seining is only endorsed by the Marine Stewardship Council as a low-impact form of fishing when the net doesn't touch the bottom. Implementing a regulation to limit menhaden purse seining to Virginia waters deeper than the depth of the net itself is just common sense. Our shorelines, our communities, and our iconic wildlife will benefit greatly through this act of stewardship.

CommentID: 219486