September 3, 2019 — REEDVILLE, Va. — Omega Protein’s Atlantic menhaden fishery has now been officially certified as sustainable against Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards. The certification comes after a final approval by an independent adjudicator, who had ruled against challenges to the certification. Today’s approval ends a two-year effort by Omega Protein to secure the certification.
The MSC standard is considered perhaps the strictest and most reliable indicators of seafood sustainability. Fisheries that carry the Council’s blue checkmark are required to follow internationally recognized best practices for operating healthy, sustainable fisheries.
“When we started this process in the Spring of 2017, we were confident that our Atlantic menhaden fishery could meet the high bar for MSC certification,” said Bret Scholtes, CEO of Omega Protein. “Now that our fishery is officially certified, consumers around the world will know the work our fishermen do every day to ensure our products come from a sustainable, responsibly harvested resource.”
In March of this year, independent auditor SAI Global recommended that the menhaden fishery be certified against the MSC standard. This followed a thorough evaluation of the fishery according to MSC’s sustainability criteria, which extensively evaluates fisheries according to 28 standards. These standards measure the sustainability of the stock, efforts to minimize environmental impacts, and the effectiveness of its management.
A minimum score of 60 is required for each of these 28 indicators, with an average score of 80 in each category. The Atlantic menhaden fishery easily met the requirements in each of these categories, scoring 82.5 (sustainability), 86.0 (environmental impact), and 92.2 (management).
As part of the certification process, an independent adjudicator was hired to resolve appeals filed by several environmental special interest groups objecting to the certification. While the adjudicator rejected most of the points of these appeals in July, while requesting clarifying language from SAI Global. Now that the adjudicator has approved the language this week, the fishery is officially certified.
The Atlantic menhaden fishery has operated continuously out of Reedville, Virginia since the 1870s. Fisheries managers at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) have repeatedly recognized the health of the stock. According to its latest assessment, the stock is not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring.
The ASMFC is currently developing new Ecological Reference Points (ERP) for menhaden, which will allow fisheries managers to further consider the species’ role in the ecosystem. The ERP and single-species stock assessments will be peer-reviewed later this year.
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.