VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. Virginia's only significant harvester of menhaden, a foul-tasting fish that filters pollutants from Chesapeake Bay but also provides jobs, agreed Monday to limit its catch.
The limit on industrial fishing of menhaden, to last five years, is aimed at Houston-based Omega Protein Corp., which employs more than 250 workers in Reedville, Va. The company processes the small fish for animal feeds and industrial uses.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine proposed the limit. He said he expects the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to approve it.
The limit will take effect immediately because the company agreed to it, said Delacey Skinner, a Kaine spokeswoman.
Other fish in the bay eat menhaden, and Omega critics say overharvesting is stressing sports fish, such as striped bass.
Omega Protein supports the limit "because this gives us the opportunity to still remain in business," said Toby Gascon, Omega's director of government affairs.
Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, praised it as a "wonderful balance between conservation and commerce." The foundation is part of Menhaden Matter, a coalition of environmental and fishery groups.
Greenpeace said in a statement that Kaine had devised a watered-down plan that pleases the industry but will do little to protect the ecosystem.
The annual catch limit of 109,020 metric tons is the average annual harvest from 2001 through 2005, Kaine said.