January 21, 2019 – ABBEVILLE, La. – The Gulf menhaden population continues to be a healthy, sustainably managed stock, according to the latest assessment released by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC). Regulators will use the data from the assessment to develop new goals for managing Gulf menhaden at a workshop scheduled for February 12-13 in New Orleans. Omega Protein is a major participant in the Gulf menhaden fishery.
The assessment, conducted through the Southeast Data Assessment and Review (SEDAR) process, is the first benchmark assessment of Gulf menhaden since 2013. Like its predecessor and an update assessment in 2016, the assessment confirms that Gulf menhaden is neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing. Other indicators of a healthy stock, such as spawning stock biomass-the total weight of fish in the population that contribute to reproduction-are similarly positive.
“Our operations in the Gulf have a long, clear track record of responsible harvest which has resulted in a sustainable fishery,” said Ben Landry, Director of Public Affairs for Omega Protein. “This new assessment is just the latest confirmation of a healthy Gulf menhaden fishery.”
In addition to updating fisheries managers on the status of the Gulf menhaden stock, the assessment will also be used at a February workshop to set new management objectives and reference points, which are benchmarks for the stock that are used to determine whether or not it is overfished or if overfishing is occurring. The new, menhaden-specific reference points should provide a better determination of the health of the stock.
During the fall of 2018, a review panel of three experts from the Center of Independent Experts (CIE) and one outside reviewer representing the GSMFC indicated their confidence that the current assessment model adequately demonstrates the stock is not overfished nor is overfishing occurring. In their review, the panelists also reported that spawning stock biomass and recruitment – the number of fish that survive to enter the fishery – has increased or been stable since about 1995, and fishing mortality is at one of the lower points it has been during the same period.
The Gulf menhaden stock is currently being evaluated for a sustainability certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The recommendations from this evaluation are expected later this year. The Atlantic menhaden fishery, which Omega Protein also participates in, was recommended for MSC certification last month.
About Omega Protein
Omega Protein Corporation is a century old nutritional product company that develops, produces and delivers healthy products throughout the world to improve the nutritional integrity of foods, dietary supplements and animal feeds. Omega Protein’s mission is to help people lead healthier lives with better nutrition through sustainably sourced ingredients such as highly-refined specialty oils, specialty proteins products and nutraceuticals. Omega Protein is a division of Cooke Inc., a family owned fishery company based in New Brunswick, Canada.
The Company operates seven manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada and Europe. The Company also has a long-term supply contract with Alpha VesselCo, LLC which owns 30 vessels which harvest menhaden, a fish abundantly found off the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The Company’s website is www.omegaprotein.com.
All fishing vessels formerly owned by Omega Protein are owned and operated by Alpha VesselCo, LLC, an independent company.