Virginia Marine Resources Commission Sets Bay Cap for Menhaden

CONTACT: Jo Knight,

Restoring healthier populations of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay takes an important step forward

Arlington, VA – Yesterday the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) unanimously (9-0) approved new menhaden regulations, bringing Virginia into compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s management plan and avoiding a shutdown of the fishery in June. For years, menhaden has been the only fishery in the region whose regulations are set by Virginia’s General Assembly and not by managers with expertise in marine resource management.

This action puts a 51,000 metric ton cap on harvest in the Chesapeake Bay. For 2020 the cap is reduced to 36,192 MT to pay back excess harvest by Omega Protein. Robert C. Vandermark, executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network, released the following statement.

“Menhaden, a critical element of the marine food web in the Chesapeake Bay, is now managed to account for its vital role in the ecosystem and no longer subject to the political pressures of the Virginia General Assembly. This action is the culmination of the hard work many of us put into getting menhaden management in the hands of the resource professionals at VMRC.

“The Marine Fish Conservation Network joins many others in thanking Governor Northam, the Virginia General Assembly and the VMRC for their leadership in ensuring responsible management of menhaden.”


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.