Omega has been funded by the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NOAA and NMFS have guaranteed loans for this monopolistic company in order to get them lower interest rates and longer terms.
Why is this a big deal? NMFS does studies on menhaden that affect the fishery, NOAA does water testing. They also fund Virginia institute of Marine Science (VIMS) who has produced bogus studies on menhaden under unrealistic conditions to "prove" Menhaden do not filter water which helped to raise the quota.
THIS IS CLEARLY A CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The less Menhaden there are left for other species to eat...
The less factories exist
A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION
The more fish they catch.
As it turns out Omega Protein is now facing a Probation violation hearing. This means their plea agreement could possibly be thrown out the window. Also mention of More probation violation being uncovered.
All of this is perfectly Legal? Seems fishy.
The red dots are where Omega dropped their nets. The menhaden reduction industry starts fishing in the middle of the bay and work their way down as the fish stock in that area is depleted. NO OTHER STATE on the east coast allows fishing in their bays. They all have one thing in common, healthy bays. The General Assembly controls the fishery, not the VMRC. We are the only East Coast state to allow Menhaden Reduction fishing in state waters.
They come and fish feet from our beaches. Dumping their Slurry, A mixture of dead fish and saltwater(chum). They have been fined for dumping dirty water before What are they dumping now? They are doing this feet from our beaches, during tourist season.
They claim their slurry is safe, but they have been in trouble before. We really do not know what is coming out of their boats.
5. The Menhaden is an important link in the food chain. They eat the phyto plankton and zoo plankton and then are eaten by other fish. Transferring energy from the food they have eaten.
6. The number of juvenile Menhaden are down , the predatory fish and birds that thrive on menhaden are the ones suffering from this. They are forced to eat less nutritious prey. The large Biomass is non existent that was used for this study. It is simply a theory. How does the ASMFC get away with this.
7. The quota in texas waters is 31,500,000 pounds of menhaden, which is the average of harvests over the past five years. 414,204,498 pounds is what Virginia allows to be taken out of our waters. 10X the amount the texas based company takes form its own state. I actually fact checked this over and over saying this can't be right. IT IS
In the past century, all east coast states have banned the large scale fishing of this important fish. One company takes about 80 percent of the entire quota for the east coast, As much as 50 percent of the quota comes out of Virginia waters alone.
The results are massive fish kills/spills. The menhaden reduction industry leaves a trail of destruction wherever they fish...
It also turned out this year the Quota was not so easy to set. The states could not agree no matter what they tried.
The quota was recently raised due to a study done of the entire east Coast. But if 50 percent of the fish come from Virginia waters shouldn't this be considered in the study. See this article for more info:
1. In 2013 Omega was charged with crimes against the environment. They were discharging pollutants from their plant using their fleet of fishing boats into state waters between 2008 and 2010. They were found guilty and settled with 7.5 million dollars in fines They are still on probation to this day. Where does that waste go now? Who knows? What is being pumped out of these ships half a mile from our beaches?
2. What is in the slurry that is dumped? Running water over dead fish and sending it over the side of the boat? Dumping this water into the bay is not safe practice, especially hundreds of feet from a beach where tourists gather... Omega claims it is clean, I invite them to swish some around in their mouth or go swimming in it. I guarantee they won't.
3. Fifty percent of the entire east coast landing of menhaden come from the Chesapeake Bay and nearshore Virginia state waters and one company can land 80% of the whole coastwide catch. What other states allow Omega to fish their waters?
4.. The studies done include the biomass of all menhaden on the entire east coast. This is not a measurment of the Menhaden in the bay. We can't find that number. ALL numbers are an estimate. The biomass is a measurement of estimated weight and does not account for a lack smaller sized fish in the population that are vitally important to predators. The abundance or number of fish is down. The only management quota on Omegas harvest in the bay is a cap that is not based on science in any way. Virginia is the last state to allow purse seine fishing in state waters and is doing so in the largest and most important estuary on the east coast. One of utmost importance to countless stocks of fish and other animals, including commercial and recreational fishermen and the economic benefit they provide. We are not anti-commercial fishing. We want our watermen on the bay producing. We do not want moving factories catching massive amounts of one species, creating a void in the ecosystem to produce fish oil pills that don't work.
There is no picture for this...
There were also two more fish spills in 2016. One just in time for fourth of July weekend.