If you’d like to listen in on a live phone conversation in which Omega Protein Corporation describes its decimation of coastal menhaden stocks, the Recreational Fishing Alliance suggests that on August 8 at 8:30 a.m. (EST), you dial 877-407-3982.
The unusual advisory alerts the public to Omega’s conference call with its investor and management team to explain its fiscal earnings through June 30.
“Omega Protein uses vacuum pumps to extract as much menhaden (bunker) as is mechanically possible from federal waters, as well as within certain state coastal waters throughout Virginia and much of North Carolina,” says RFA executive director Jim Donofrio.
He characterizes as “completely reckless” Omega’s description of menhaden as “abundantly available,” and notes that RFA has supported the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s efforts to restrict menhaden harvest in Chesapeake Bay by the reduction industry. The RFA is among many groups concerned about populations of this vital forage fish; it supports a complete closure of the Chesapeake to the reduction fishery.
I support any effort to rein in the tremendous ecological damage this fishery wreaks on the ecology of the Chesapeake, and in fact, much of the mid-Atlantic. Closing the bay to Omega boats would offer enormous protection for menhaden in this huge nursery, vital for many species.
It’s worth noting that this would not, however, address the net boats of the growing bait fishery for menhaden. That fishery is likely to come under increasing scrutiny, as well it should.