The Atlantic State Fisheries Commission was unable to agree this week on whether to increase the amount of menhaden commercial fishermen are allowed to catch.
Commissioners agreed to take up menhaden catch limits at their annual meeting in October in Maine.
The small fish crucial to Chesapeake Bay crabbers and Virginia’s omega-3 oil industry is also proving to be one of the most controversial. Menhaden, which travel in schools up and down the coast, are used as bait by watermen and also rendered to make fish oil supplements and other products by the Houston-based Omega Protein Corp., which has a plant in Reedville.
After 2014 data showed much healthier stocks, the commission last year increased total allowable catch by 20 percent. This year, Omega was looking for another 20 percent increase that would allow the company to add another ship to its fleet of eight.
But at their meeting in Alexandria Wednesday, commission members representing states from Maine to Florida either turned down or were split on motions to keep the limit the same or increase it by up to 40 percent.
“It’s a really divisive issue, said Omega spokesman Ben Landry. “The states that have active fisheries want to see an increase. States that don’t have an increase have no incentive to see an increase, so they vote no.
Source: The Free Lance-Star // Original Article