REEDVILLE, VA, September 12, 2018 (ACCESSWIRE) – Over the past two weeks, activist groups, including Gotham Whale, the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Menhaden Defenders, have attacked Omega Protein’s operations in federal waters off the New York and New Jersey coast. This has led to widespread misinformation about the health of the menhaden fishery and the Company’s operations.
Omega Protein would like to correct the record.
Missing from much of this debate is the fact that the Atlantic menhaden fishery is entirely sustainable. The last two stock assessments conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the interstate body that regulates menhaden fishing on the East Coast, found that menhaden is not overfished nor is overfishing occurring. These positive findings led the ASMFC to raise the coastwide menhaden quota in each of the last three years, most recently last November.
Concerns about bycatch from the fishery are also misplaced. According to NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, the menhaden fishery ”is one of the most selective, and effective fisheries, with a small bycatch.” Marine mammal interactions – which are very rare – are actively monitored by NOAA.
The Company’s recent trips to the New York, New Jersey area are perfectly in compliance with all state and federal regulations. Our fishermen are operating in federal – not state – waters, and the catches are being landed according to regulations in Virginia, as they are counted towards that state’s annual allocation of the coastwide quota. The ASMFC sets this quota in a precautionary manner aimed at ensuring the continued sustainability of the species.
The number of fish the Company is harvesting from the area in question is a small fraction of the overall number of menhaden caught in New York and New Jersey state waters. Fishermen from those two states caught approximately 72 million fish in 2017, and that figure is likely to be higher this year due to quota reallocation. In comparison, Omega Protein has harvested roughly 4 million fish on average in the Northern New York/New Jersey Bight in recent years. Like the Virginia quota, the New York and New Jersey quotas are set at a level to ensure a sustainable fishery and a healthy ecosystem.
Critics have previously attacked the Company for our operations in the Chesapeake Bay on the basis of localized depletion – even though, as NOAA Fisheries recently pointed out, studies have not found any evidence to substantiate those concerns. Now, when the Company directs its operations to fish in other waters, some of those same groups continue to find fault.
Despite the overheated rhetoric of activist critics, Omega Protein continues to operate sustainably. The menhaden stock is thriving up and down the East Coast, a fact that is good news for all sides of this debate.