HD15 - Report on the Establishment of a Biological Sampling Program and Adult Abundance Index for Atlantic Menhaden in Virginia

Executive Summary:
The Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation, in February 2013, that requires the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to establish a biological sampling program for Atlantic menhaden (§ 28.2-400.6 of the Code of Virginia – Attachment 1). The legislation was created in response to the requirements of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Amendment 2 to the Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden (available online at http://www.asmfc.org/uploads/file/atlanticMenhadenAmendment2_Dec2012.pdf) , and was adopted by the ASMFC in December 2012. Amendment 2 requires each jurisdiction in the Chesapeake Bay (Maryland, Potomac River Fisheries Commission, and Virginia) to collect one 10-fish sample per 200 metric tons of menhaden landed for use as bait.

The VMRC implemented a new regulation pertaining to Atlantic menhaden, effective April 1, 2013 (Chapter 4VAC 20-1270-10 et seq. – Attachment 2), that establishes limited entry criteria, an individual transferable quota system, gear-specific quota allocations, bycatch provisions, reporting requirements, and violation penalties.

Section § 28.2-400.2 of the Code of Virginia establishes the total allowable commercial landings for menhaden in 2013 and 2014 in metric tons equivalent to 318,067,167 pounds annually, and that the total amount of allowable landings shall be allocated as quotas among three sectors of the menhaden fishery. These three sectors are the purse seine menhaden reduction sector, the purse seine menhaden bait sector, and the non-purse seine menhaden bait sector. The purse seine menhaden reduction sector is allocated an annual quota of 286,396,768 pounds of allowable menhaden landings; the purse seine menhaden bait sector a 26,648,870-pound annual quota of allowable menhaden landings; and the non-purse seine menhaden bait sector a 5,021,529-pound annual quota of allowable menhaden landings.

The following report addresses § 28.2-400.6B of the Code of Virginia by providing: (i) a description of progress in establishing the biological sampling program and development of the adult menhaden survey index, (ii) a discussion of difficulties in implementing the requirements of this section, including a lack of resources to properly implement the program, and (iii) a list of resources the Commission believes are necessary to properly implement the sampling program and index, with detailed justification, including an estimate of the cost of each item requested, for effective implementation of the program.