NOAA Supports ASMFC Decision on Menhaden

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2019
CONTACT: Jo Knight,

Decision Holds Omega Protein Accountable for Failure to Comply with ASMFC’s Fishery Management Plan

Arlington, VA – NOAA affirmed the decision by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission that the Commonwealth of Virginia was out of compliance with the interstate fishery management plan for menhaden, an important food source for recreationally and commercially significant fish species in the mid-Atlantic. Because Virginia has not implemented a fishing cap in the Chesapeake Bay, NOAA will impose a moratorium on menhaden fishing in the commonwealth starting June 17, 2020. Omega Protein, a Canadian-owned company based in Reedville, VA, catches the majority of menhaden in Virginia’s waters.

Robert C. Vandermark, executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, released the following statement:

“NOAA’s concurrence with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s finding that the Commonwealth of Virginia is not in compliance with the interstate fishery management plan for menhaden is welcome news. By upholding the conservation tenets set in place by the ASMFC, the administration has sent a strong message that long-term conservation of marine resources outweighs short-term profitability of a large corporation. The imposition of a moratorium in June of 2020 will give Virginia’s General Assembly time to act, and we encourage lawmakers to take the appropriate steps to come into compliance quickly. The important role menhaden play as a forage fish for striped bass and other species is well known, and the compliance with management plans is critical to the health of many fish stocks. We are encouraged by NOAA’s decision and for holding Omega Protein accountable. We look forward to swift action in the General Assembly.”


The Marine Fish Conservation Network is a coalition of commercial and recreational fishing associations, regional and national conservation groups, aquaria, and marine science organizations committed to sustaining fish populations, healthy marine ecosystems, and robust fishing communities.