REEDVILLE, VA–(Marketwired – April 21, 2017) – Omega Protein (NYSE: OME) is preparing to launch its 105th consecutive fishing season in Reedville, Virginia, and the Company will take a major step on Saturday by christening its two newest fishing vessels, the Cockrells Creek and the Windmill Point. These new, updated vessels continue Omega Protein’s efforts to advance its sustainable practices by modernizing its fishing fleet.
These efforts, and the Company’s other sustainable operations, are documented in a short film of its fishing operations which was released in conjunction with the launch of the new vessels. The film combines rare aerial footage and interviews with Company employees to show what it’s like to catch menhaden for a living, and how the Company safely and sustainably targets its catch. By showing in detail a process rarely seen by the public, the video offers a new perspective on what it means to be a part of Omega Protein.
The ceremony will be held April 22 at the Omega Protein plant, located at 610 Menhaden Road in Reedville, Va. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., followed by a vessel cruise at 11 a.m.
The Cockrells Creek and Windmill Point boast many improvements over the vessels they are replacing, the Reedville and the Tangier Island. They feature improved refrigeration, which will help ensure that Omega Protein’s harvest is as fresh as possible when the vessels reach the dock. They also feature greater capacity, holding up to 2 million fish apiece compared to the 1.3 million held by the retiring vessels. They provide a safer, more seaworthy working platform for crewmembers, and upgraded living quarters.
“As we near the kick off of our 105th year, these new vessels exemplify our continued investment in the future of Reedville,” said Monty Deihl, Omega Protein’s Vice President of Operations. “We also have the privilege of honoring the people who have helped build our community and our industry.”
Omega Protein will pay tribute to its past at Saturday’s ceremony, with two women with longstanding ties to Reedville’s historic menhaden fishery serving as sponsors of the new vessels.
Ms. Dixie Deihl, sponsor of the Cockrells Creek, is a lifelong Northumberland County native who lives in Fleeton. Her husband of 45 years, Captain Henry Deihl, was a 3rd generation menhaden captain who passed away in 2007. Ms. Deihl’s support of the industry dates back over 55 years and continues today through her family, including two sons and three grandsons who work for Omega Protein.
Ms. Gayle Dameron, sponsor of the Windmill Point, is a Virginia native who married into the menhaden family. Her husband of 44 years, Captain Dale Dameron, was a 3rd generation menhaden captain who passed away in 2016. Ms. Dameron spent time working at Northumberland County schools, and volunteering for school functions and at the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum. The Damerons’ legacy in the menhaden industry continues today through their son, Captain Michael Dale Dameron.
The ceremony will also honor the legacy of the retiring Reedville and Tangier Island, two World War II-era vessels, which will be cleaned, stripped of machinery, and sunk to become artificial reefs. These vessels served their country in wartime, provided jobs and income for countless people, and will continue to serve as fishery habitats and diving destinations. A third vessel, the John S. Dempster Jr., is also being retired, and will be kept as a ready reserve spare vessel.
The Reedville was constructed in 1944 as a freight and supply boat for the U.S. Army during World War II. It was later assigned to the U.S. Navy and renamed the Range Recoverer, carrying technicians and equipment to track long-range missiles. It was retired from military duty in 1975 and converted to a menhaden fishing boat based in Reedville, where it was originally captained by Mr. Harold Deihl. The Tangier Island, christened in 1973, was also originally captained by a member of the Deihl family, Mr. Irvin L. Deihl, Jr.