April 7, 2018 – ABBEVILLE, La. – Omega Protein is pleased to announce the launch of its newest and largest fishing vessel operating in Louisiana, the F/V Vermilion, to start the 2018 Gulf of Mexico fishing season. The Vermilion marks a significant upgrade to the Company’s fleet, with state-of-the-art technological and safety features that will improve worker safety and increase efficiency. It is the latest investment made by the Company in its Gulf fishing communities.
The Vermilion was officially christened at a ceremony on Saturday, April 7 at Omega Protein’s Abbeville facility. Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins delivered the event’s keynote speech. He was joined by guest speaker Jack Montoucet, the Secretary of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, and Diane Broussard, the vessel’s ceremonial sponsor, who is the Vermilion Parish Clerk of Court.
“The Abbeville processing facility and Omega Protein have been a foundation of the commercial fishing industry in Vermilion Parish for over 50 years,” said Congressman Higgins. “The addition of the F/V Vermilion to its fleet is a strong sign of Omega Protein’s commitment to doing business on the Gulf Coast.”
The Vermilion, originally known as the Protector, was first launched in 1977 as a support vessel for the oil and gas exploration industry. The Company embarked on a $5 million safety and sustainability upgrade to transform the Protector into a modern fishing vessel. The conversion installed an updated refrigeration system that will allow the Vermilion to land fresh and high-quality fish, and equipped the Vermilion with new features that will make loading and unloading fish both easier and safer for vessel crews.
“Omega Protein is committed to improving our operations for the benefit of our customers and our employees,” said Monty Deihl, Vice President of Operations at Omega Protein. “The investments made in the Vermilion streamline our operations, improve the quality of our product, and most importantly, ensure the continued safety of our employees.”
“LDWF has always had a great working relationship with the menhaden industry and wishes to congratulate Omega Protein on its commissioning of a new vessel, which will harvest an important resource that has been a part of the fabric of Louisiana since the 1940s,” said Secretary Montoucet. “The menhaden fishery is a great example of how a responsible commercial fishery can work with scientists to provide crucial information to regulators so that the stock is protected while allowing an important fishery to operate sustainably.”
Before entering Congress, Rep. Higgins served in law enforcement, taking on many roles including street cop, public information officer, and his current post as Reserve Deputy Marshal while simultaneously representing Louisiana’s Third Congressional District, which includes Abbeville, in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Secretary Montoucet served in Louisiana’s House of Representatives for eight years before accepting his role as Secretary of Wildlife and Fisheries. In 2004, Diane Broussard became the first female, parish-wide elected official when she was elected as the Vermilion Parish Clerk of Court.