Reduce menhaden harvest

to protect bay health

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The taking of excessive tonnage on menhaden out of the Chesapeake Bay has a very negative effect on the entire ecosystem. Menhaden are filter feeders, cleaning more water than oysters. They are at the bottom of the food chain for all wildlife in the bay. The drastic decrease in the level of menhaden has led to more predation of young crabs, spot, blowtoads and eels. These fish have mostly vanished from the upper parts of the bay; there are no more big bluefish. Rockfish or striped bass fishery is in decline. Schools of dolphin now are regularly seen in our rivers looking for food because they are not finding enough in the bay.

This whole industry started after man nearly depleted the Atlantic and then the Pacific oceans of whales for lamp oil. History has a way of repeating itself, with the mismanagement of our menhaden. All we have to do is see the signs. Menhaden belong to Virginians, not a for-profit corporation.

I hope the people’s legislative body, the General Assembly, will make the right decisions to reduce harvest and not be influence by lobbyists for Omega Protein Corp.

Tscharner D. Watkins III.

Chairman, Virginia Agriculture Council.


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