The striped bass has been named the official state fish, but it didn’t happen without a fight.
The biggest opponent to the title came from a much-debated fish that is a mainstay of the striper’s diet – menhaden.
SB 940 passed easily in the Senate and was forwarded to the House.
There, Del. Jackson Miller amended it to give the honor to the menhaden – a small, oily fish harvested for Omega fatty acids and an important component of the Chesapeake Bay because it is a filter feeder.
Miller, a Republican from northern Virginia, argued that the menhaden was more important to the state economy than a striper, despite numbers that show the recreational angling community spends millions of dollars each year in pursuit of rockfish.
When the amendment was debated on the floor, Accomac Democrat Lynwood Lewis reminded the legislators that a Hampton fourth-grade class had lobbied hard for the original bill.
Miller’s amendment lost 49-48.
With the menhaden out of the running, the House voted overwhelmingly – 80- 16 – to honor the striped bass.