Menhaden focus of fisheries meeting in Va.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- A small but important fish for the Chesapeake Bay is the focus of a public meeting in Virginia.

The Atlantic States Fisheries Commission is scheduled to hear from the public Monday night in Newport News on the future of the Atlantic menhaden. The oily fish supports one of the biggest commercial fisheries in the U.S. because of menhaden's use in a number of products, including heart-healthy supplements.

But a debate has been raging about that fishery based in Reedville and conducted by Omega Protein. Recreational fishermen, birders and environmentalists fear that menhaden's numbers have dipped to their lowest level in years.

They argue the fish is a key to other species such as rockfish and helps filter the bay. Omega maintains it's mindful of menhaden's sustainability.