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Conservationists To Try Again On Menhaden Bill

Source: Virginian - Pilot

Publication date: 2004-02-08

Arrival time: 2004-02-10

 

Richard Welton is hoping that recreational fishing groups learned a lesson in the recent defeat of a bill concerning Virginia's menhaden fishery.

 

House Bill 446 proposed that control of the fishery be taken from the General Assembly and given to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. The VMRC oversees the fisheries of all other Virginia species.

 

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission sets rules on menhaden. But since the General Assembly isn't always in session, recreational groups argue that Atlantic States commission rulings can't be acted on quickly enough.

 

If the menhaden fishery were under VMRC control, emergency measures could be taken if necessary. But the bill was killed last week by the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.

 

"It went to the subcommittee first," said Welton, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association - the most vocal proponent of the bill. The CCA led a massive letter and e-mail effort supporting the bill.

 

"Then the subcommittee voted to kill it Wednesday morning," Welton said. "We'll be back with this next year with a better game plan and hopefully a paid lobbyist.

 

"We're looking at this as a delay, not as a defeat. We're not going to give up, and we're not going to go away."

 

Welton and many recreational anglers are passionate about the menhaden because the species provides a large forage base for game fish and is one of the best filter feeders in the Chesapeake Bay.

 

Commercial interests harvest menhaden in great numbers, using the oil for a variety of products.

 

Good hunting: Hunters for the Hungry has set a record for donations of deer meat.

 

Donations topped 300,000 pounds for the first time since the program started in 1991. Donated meat is processed and given to needy families around the state.

 

This season's 308,274 pounds surpassed the previous season's record of 266,456. Hunters this season donated 6,100 deer, which will provide 1.2 million 4-ounce servings of high-protein, low-fat meat.

 

"We're extremely grateful to the hunters of Virginia for so generously sharing their harvest," said Laura Newell-Furniss, director for the program. "Hunters throughout Virginia are continuing a centuries-old tradition of sharing the bounty of the harvest."

 

For information on Hunters for the Hungry, call 1-800-352-4868.

 

Struggling basser: After one event in the Bassmaster Pro Tour, Curt Lytle of Suffolk is struggling to find a way to earn a return to the Bassmaster Classic.

 

Lytle finished fifth in last year's Classic. The first of six qualifying tournaments was held last weekend on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida.

 

Lytle was 22nd after the first day but slipped to 44th on the second day and failed to make the cut. He did earn $2,400, however.

 

Only the top 25 anglers from the tour will qualify for the Classic.

 

Rick Morris of Virginia Beach wasn't in the top 100 and failed to earn any cash.

 

However, after the first day of this weekend's second tour stop, in Alabama, Morris was in 10th place. Morris had three fish that totaled 8 pounds, 8 pounds behind the leader. Lytle had no fish the first day, when the field struggled with heavy rain and high wind.

 

Only the top 10 after two days make the cut to the third day of each tour stop.

 

Duck dinner: The Virginia Beach Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold its 39th annual fund-raising dinner at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia.

 

Tickets are $75 or $125 a couple. Dress is semi-formal. The ticket price will include a one-year membership to Ducks Unlimited.

 

For more information, call Steve Peloquin at 233-0954 or Jeff Brooks at 428-4031.

 

Learn boating: Flotilla 54 of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will hold a boating skills and seamanship course from Feb. 16 through March 10.

 

Sessions will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at the NOAA Atlantic Marine Center at 439 York St., Norfolk.

 

For more information, call Cecil Chapman at 423-0540.

 

Members needed: The Virginia Bassmasters are looking for new members for the upcoming tournament season. Boat owners and those who don't own boats are welcome. For information, call Joe Lambert at 467-5005.

 

seminars

 

n A free seminar on bait- rigging basics will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Norfolk West Marine, 5616 Virginia Beach Blvd. For more information, call 466-1826.

 

n A free seminar on tackle maintenance and fishing basics will be given by Capt. Wayne Seymour at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Virginia Beach Boater's World, 1709 Laskin Road. For more information, call 425-0540.

 

n A free seminar on fishing for speckled trout and puppy drum will be given by Capt. Wayne Seymour at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Virginia Beach Boater's World, 1709 Laskin Road. For more information, call 425-0540.

 

Reach Lee Tolliver at 222-5844 or

 

Lee.Tolliver pilotonline.com

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Looks like commercial menhaden harvesters have some good friends in that House Committee. Was there any reason giving for the bill being killed?

 

Better yet, does VA have initiative/referrendum available to the voters? NJ doesn't...cause not even NJ residents would stand for the way NJ is run cwm13.gif

 

TimS

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I dunno why it was killed. Maybe there will be more written up later in the Post. It seems weird that it was killed before it even got out of committee. I wonder if someone on the losing side is angry enough to sue? Or even could they?

 

So I guess this one is a dead issue.... until next year....

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mdc there is one answer. Omega Protien.

The bill did also ask for money to manage the fishiery. I believe Omega just wants the money to rule. The sad part is they hurt the other fishiers like crabing for example.

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From another source:

 

Menhaden bill flounders

 

 

by Reid Armstrong

 

 

RICHMOND-A proposed law that would have put the menhaden industry under the jurisdiction of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) died in a General Assembly subcommittee last week.

 

 

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Following a public hearing on House Bill 446 last Thursday, the Chesapeake subcommittee of the Virginia House of Delegates committee on agriculture, Chesapeake and natural resources passed by the bill indefinitely.

 

The controversial proposal had been introduced by Del. Terri Suit of Virginia Beach and Del. Gary A. Reese of Oak Hill.

 

The bill's proponents plan to continue fighting for what they say is an important issue.

 

"We will continue working with Del. Suit for the best management of the species," said David Nobles, vice president of the Coastal Conservation Association of Virginia (CCAVA).

 

Del. Suit said she did not realize when she introduced HB446 how "polarizing" and "emotional" the issue of menhaden management is.

 

Of the approximately 100 people in attendance, some two-thirds were Omega Protein employees and Northumberland County officials opposing the measure.

 

Supporting the CCAVA's effort were representatives from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Virginia Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies, the Recreational Fishing Alliance and a dozen conservation-minded sportfishermen.

 

Del. Suit tried to reach a compromise with the bill's opponents, suggesting that the heart of the issue lay in the General Assembly's inability to quickly respond to management recommendations from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

 

She recommended revising the bill to give the VMRC authority only to enact ASMFC recommendations while the legislature is out of session.

 

Menhaden industry representatives struggled to explain why they would object to this approach. They noted the possibility for duplicity and concerns that the VMRC board, with fewer members than the legislature, could more easily be lobbied, pressured or persuaded.

 

Opponents of the bill included Gov. Mark R. Warner. According to Secretary of Natural Resources W. Tayloe Murphy Jr., the legislation moving all edible finfish under the jurisdiction of the VMRC in 1984 spelled out clearly the parameters for managing food fish. But, he said, the legislation does not present parameters for managing industrial fish used for household products, meal and supplements.

 

Although the ASMFC sets guidelines for managing migratory fish, states are free to adopt more stringent legislation. Without proper guidelines the VMRC could pass legislation more stringent than the ASMFC's current stance, said Murphy.

 

Calling the legislation "premature," he said there must be a joint study between all the stakeholders so that if the VMRC is eventually given the authority to regulate the menhaden industry, it is done so with the guidance of the General Assembly.

 

Del. Suit's colleagues on the subcommittee said that while she may have had the "best intentions," the legislation's time had not come.

 

About the weekly Rappahannock Record, to Subscribe, to send E-mail

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I did not see memtioned who on the comittee voted for the bill and who voted against. Find that out and follow up with letters expressing your disapointment and the fact that it will influence your vote in the next election. It took a number of tries in NJ to get the Reduction boats kicked out. We were up against a similar situation. Omega lobying hard and distorting the truth on a number of fronts. If you turn up the heat enough you will see people who apposed the bill signing on a co-sponsors. Fax numbers are a good thing. Its also important to get people from each representitives district to apply some pressure. RFA form letters from people that are not voting in a particular candidates district although an honorable effort does not apply the same pressure as then they can start counting the votes they will lose in the next election. Get mad and get involved.

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How each committee member voted is a matter of 'public record'. Get the list of members and write letters to the newspaper complaining about how the elected official voted. It is an election year ... make a stink, vote the 'go along to get alongers' out of office.

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2 voted for the the rest voted to shelf it. So it woudl die in committee. Omega really does not want the VMRC to manage. Even though it is made up mostly of Commercials (balance is closer). The VMRC understands what is happening to the Bay.

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YEAS--Cox, Morgan, Sherwood, Louderback, Wright, Orrock, Weatherholtz, Byron, Saxman, Hogan, Cline, Scott, E.T., Plum, Van Yahres, Amundson, Shuler, Miles, Stump, Eisenberg, Shannon--20.

 

NAYS--Ware, R.L., Suit--2.

 

ABSTENTIONS--0.

 

NOT VOTING--0.

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