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Virginia Ospreys



Ground Zero for Ospreys
Around 20,000 ospreys are attracted to Chesapeake Bay annually, making it the world's most important nesting grounds for the species. But researchers believe that the decline of one little fish might play a significant part in the decreasing breeding success in recent years.
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Osprey Need Your Help!

The Chesapeake Bay hosts the largest population of Osprey of any place else in the world.  There are 10,000 to 12,000 breeding pairs.  The resurgence of Osprey over the past several decades from near extinction caused by DDT is one of America’s great wildlife success stories.  Today, researchers have found evidence that Ospreys in the lower Chesapeake Bay are in trouble again, this time as a result of inadequate supply of menhaden, a crucial forage fish.

Osprey almost exclusively eat fish, and in the lower Chesapeake Bay, their health and survival is inextricably linked to menhaden, a rich source of energy to their oil content.

Menhaden are a schooling, oily fish that are commercially harvested by purse seines (large wall of netting) in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay.  Virginia is the only remaining state to allow industrial scale menhaden reduction Fisheries.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VRMC) sets the quotas and rules for the Chesapeake Bay’s commercial harvest of menhaden.  The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and its technical advisors recommend and allocate commercial harvest quotas for each state, including Virginia, along the Atlantic Coast and in the Chesapeake Bay.

This year, 83 nests in Mobjack Bay (lower Chesapeake) were monitored by researchers from the Center for Conservation Biology.  The Osprey population in that part of the Chesapeake Bay has been on the decline for years.  This year, out of 83 nests, only 3 chicks survived.  That reproductive rate is unable to sustain a stable osprey population.  Menhaden populations should be maintained at levels that will sustain Osprey populations in which they are able to produce approximately one chick per nest to offset mortality.  It is suggested that the current menhaden availability in that area is too low to support that productivity rate.  There needs to be balance.  Science suggests that the overharvesting of menhaden over years is now affecting the productivity of Osprey. 

This is a highly political issue, and to put it into the words of Dr. Bryan Watts, Director of the Center for Conservation Biology, “Osprey are not political, they are just trying to do their Osprey thing.”  So what can we do?  We can let our voices be heard, as we are the voices for these magnificent raptors.  Together WE CAN!

I am providing some contact information and encourage each of you to reach out and voice your concerns.  If you have questions you can email the Virginia Osprey Foundation at


Write and Call Menhaden Management Policy Makers:

Jamie Green

(757) 247-2265

Commissioner, Virginia Marine Resources Commission

Atlantic Menhaden Management Board Member with ASMFC.


Mel Bell /

(843) 953-9007

Chairman of the Board, Atlantic Menhaden Management Board

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission


Travis A. Voyles

(804) 786-0044

Virginia Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources

Advisor to the Governor of Virginia


Caren Merrick

(804) 786-2211

Secretary of Commerce and Trade

Advisor to the Governor of Virginia


Glenn Youngkin

(804) 786-7831

Governor of Virginia


Mark R. Warner

US Senator, Virginia


Tim Kaine

US Senator, Virginia


Find Your Delegates and Senators write and call

Virginia House of Delegates Member Listings (

Senate of Virginia

Virginia Ospreys
Osprey Advocacy

Photo credit to Dr. Bryan Watts

Anglers, environmentalists push for partial moratorium on Chesapeake menhaden catch

Sportfishing groups and environmentalists are calling for a partial moratorium on Virginia’s menhaden reduction fishery, citing troubling declines of certain bird and fish species that feed on them.

A petition, dated Dec. 12 and signed by 18 individuals and organizations, presses the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to ban related menhaden harvests in the state under most conditions until regulators enact a scientifically based catch limit within the Chesapeake Bay. Read entire article, click here.

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