- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has done something the state legislature couldn’t: He placed a cap on the industrial harvesting of menhaden at 109,020 metric tons a year for the next five years.

It seems to me that he could have suggested that the commercial menhaden boats take all they want because an annual removal of nearly 110,000 metric tons of a little fish that is barely larger than a man’s hand appears to be mighty generous. Here’s betting the perennially greedy commercial menhaden industry loves Kaine. The cap set by the governor is 4,000 tons more than the cap proposed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last year.

On the good side, it appears that scientists will finally have a say in the debate over the Chesapeake Bay’s beleaguered menhaden, which the larger predator fish species sorely need to grow and stay healthy.

Meanwhile, I’m no friend of the radical action group Greenpeace, but I agree with its reaction to the governor’s decision to keep the menhaden reduction industry in business.

“Governor Kaine’s proposal [would] give the industry favorable treatment with regard to any ‘underages,’ meaning that if the fishery failed to catch the full quota in one year the deficit would be added to the catch limit for the following year,” said John Hocevar, a Greenpeace oceans specialist. The measure was mulled over by the ASMFC last year, but was not adopted.

“Gov. Kaine’s proposal is too little too late for Chesapeake Bay,” Hocevar said. “After dragging his feet for nearly a year, Gov. Kaine has come up with a watered down plan that has made Houston-based Omega Protein very pleased but will do little to protect the Chesapeake ecosystem or the fishermen that depend on it.”

Omega runs a menhaden reduction plant in Reedville, Va., one of the last plants of its kind on the East Coast.

And why is the Coastal Conservation Association’s Virginia division so happy? It said Gov. Kaine’s proclamation [to place a cap on the menhaden removal)] “strikes a good balance between conservation and commercial interests.”

How the CCA/VA figures a good balance has been struck is beyond my comprehension. Wonder what a striped bass would say (if it could) about the CCA/VA’s position.

“We have said all along we do not want a shutdown of the industry, but proper management of this important fishery,” said David Nobles, vice president of the CCA/VA.

I guess that’s where Mr. Nobles and I part company. Omega doesn’t deserve a break.

Shooter qualification sessions — If you plan to hunt certain public lands in Maryland, you probably will need to demonstrate your shooting ability before the hunt begins. On Sept. 12, noon to 4 p.m., the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Central Maryland Chapter will conduct a qualification session at the Meyer Station Range, 1600 Meyer Station Road, Odenton, in Anne Arundel County. For details, contact Buz Meyer, 301/261-6996, or Gil Murphy, 410/586-8790. Directions can be found at www.meyerstation.org.

The Izaak Walton League Wildlife Achievement Chapter in Montgomery County, will have shotgun and muzzleloader qualification Nov. 5, 9:30 a.m. at 26430 Mullinix Mill Road, Damascus. Contact Jesse Lim, 301/253-2384, or [email protected], or www.damascusiwla.org.

The Dayton Rod & Gun Club, 5082 Greenbridge Road, Dayton, in Howard County, will do archery qualifications only in August and September. Call Frank Hall, 410/789-8764, or Gene Hyatt, 410/760-8291.

In Charles County, go to the Myrtle Grove WMA Range, 5625 Myrtle Grove Road, near La Plata, for shotgun and muzzleloader qualifications only — Aug. 20 (1 to 4 p.m.), Sept. 9 (9 a.m. to noon) and Oct. 6 (2 to 5:30 p.m.). Call Daniel Eversberg or Jim Bennett, 301/743-5161. You can also visit the Izaak Walton League’s Southern Maryland Chapter, 4200 Gardiner Road, Waldorf, Aug. 9 (1 to 4 p.m.) or Sept. 24 (1 to 4 p.m.). Call Danny Estevez, 301/932-9949.

In Anne Arundel County, the Meade Natural Heritage Association, Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge (North Tract) at Hunting Control Station, Bald Eagle Drive will do firearms qualifications on Aug. 27, Sept. 17, Oct. 18 and Nov. 19. (Bring eye and ear protection.) Bow hunting qualifications will also be conducted. Call 301/317-3825. After Sept. 1, contact Hunter Control Station, 301/317-3819.

For all listings visit www.dnr.state.md.us/huntersguide/shoot_qual_cal.asp.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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