Letter: Stop menhaden fishing in Virginia waters
Wake up, Virginia voters, for a new governor will soon happen. Once again, the life of the Chesapeake Bay is in your hands. The bay will live or die with your vote and the candidates’ position on stopping all menhaden fishing in Virginia waters. Face the fact that the bay is almost sucked dry of its marine resources.
Millions of Atlantic herring and shad used to come in the bay and river systems to spawn each year. They are now wiped out. A billion menhaden were caught in the bay in 1990 by Standard Products Company of Houston, Texas. Menhaden now are at an all-time low. They are 80 percent depleted. For the first time, Atlantic States Marine Fishery Service placed a 25 percent reduction in their catch. Will this cure the problem? I think not. It is documented that Omega was fined $5 million for polluting the Chesapeake Bay. They have been cited several times. It is documented that the current governor and many members of the General Assembly received thousands of dollars from Omega Protein. They sold the life of the bay for money.
Recently, the bottlenose dolphin died by the hundreds and washed ashore from New Jersey to North Carolina; 153 washed up in Virginia. The finger was quickly pointed to a virus. Question: What was the real cause? If you would examine the stomachs of the dolphins, you will find them empty. My guess is that the dolphins starved and their natural immune system stopped working. I can recall the same problem several years ago with our rockfish. There is only one cure: Stop all menhaden fishing in Virginia waters.
Dr. John B. Lapetina Sr.
Fisheries Management, VMRC