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January 25, 2006

VIRGINIA HOLDS CRITICAL HEARING ON MENHADEN BILL

Public Urged to Attend and Show Support

The Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday, January 26th, will hold a subcommittee hearing on HB 749, a bill to implement a cap on the industrial harvest of Atlantic menhaden in Chesapeake Bay. The cap was approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last August. It is now up to Virginia, as a member of the Commission, to implement the cap on the Bay reduction fishery, which fishes out of a Virginia port in Virginia waters.

If the Commonwealth of Virginia fails to set the same limits as the ASMFC - a cap of 105,800 tons a year for 5 years - the state will be faced with sanctions by the U.S. Department of Commerce, leading to a possible moratorium on all menhaden fishing in state waters.

National Coalition for Marine Conservation president Ken Hinman will be testifying at the Chesapeake subcommittee hearing, along with other members of the alliance, Menhaden Matter.

Members of the public are urged to attend and show their support for HB 749 in front of the Virginia assembly, a body that historically has refused to set limits on the state's menhaden reduction fishery. (The menhaden fishery is regulated by the legislature; all other fisheries are regulated by the Marine Resources Commission.)

The subcommittee hearing will begin at 5 p.m. on the fifth floor West in the General Assembly Building in Richmond. The Assembly meets at Capital Square, between 10th and 11th Streets.