FORT MONROE, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association (VSSA) has filed petitions with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to have menhaden reduction fishing banned from the Chesapeake Bay.

A hearing on the matter has been set for December 6 before the VMRC.

Menhaden, or Atlantic bunker as they are also known, have been at the center of a debate between sportfishing anglers and Omega Protein, a company that harvests menhaden from the Chesapeake using a method known as reduction fishing.

Menhaden are a primary forage fish for many gamefish species. Omega harvests menhaden for use in fish meal and fish oil. Sportfishing and conservation groups have suggested that reduction fishing has cut menhaden numbers in the Chesapeake, and because of that, gamefish numbers have declined.

Omega denies that its efforts are undermining menhaden stocks. The company says science has shown Atlantic menhaden numbers are strong, and that the decline in gamefish numbers is due to overfishing by sportfishing angler, as well as other commercial anglers.

Virginia is the only state on the east coast that allows reduction fishing in estuaries like the the Chesapeake Bay.