Bill before General Assembly would offer incentives for watermen to capitalize on fishing invasive catfish

RICHMOND—A new General Assembly bill filed for the 2023 session would create an economic development opportunity for rural coastal Virginia and address a growing environmental concern in the Chesapeake Bay.

House Bill 1664, introduced by Del. Keith Hodges of Urbanna, would create the Governor’s Catfish Industries Development Fund to incentivize the landing and processing of blue catfish from the Chesapeake Bay. Sen. Richard Stuart of Stafford introduced corresponding legislation, Senate Bill 897, in the Virginia Senate.

Blue catfish is an invasive species that poses a threat to other aquaculture industries in the bay including crab and rockfish, two of the estuary’s most valuable catches for commercial fishery operations. The blue crab, the bay’s most prized catch and essential to the health of the bay’s ecosystem, is less abundant now than at any time since scientists began regularly tracking the species….

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