Menhaden fishing, off-loading the catch (Photo: NOAA)
Omega Protein disappointed by ASMFC´s decision
Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 00:40 (GMT + 9)
Omega Protein Corporation, a nutritional ingredient company and the nation’s leading vertically integrated producer of omega-3 fish oil and specialty fish meal products, announced that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has approved a 20 per cent decrease in fish catch for the Atlantic Coast menhaden bait and reduction fisheries.
The decrease is based on the three year catch average, from 2009 to 2011, and is expected to take effect, if ratified by the member ASMFC states, in the 2013 fishing season.
The restriction will remain in place for at least the next two years until the ASMFC considers the next Atlantic menhaden stock assessment, which is expected to be completed by the National Marine Fisheries Service by the end of 2014.
The restriction will limit the total amount of Atlantic menhaden that can be landed by both the reduction fishery, conducted by Omega Protein, and the bait fisheries, conducted by other third parties, to 170,800 tonnes.
Omega Protein’s Atlantic menhaden catch averaged approximately 167,000 tonnes per year based on the 2009 to 2011 three year average. In 2011, the company’s Atlantic menhaden catch was 174,000 tonnes.
The ASMFC also voted to allocate the quota to each state based on historical catch data, and the Company expects that Virginia will preserve the reduction fisheries historic share of total reduction and bait landings.
“Omega Protein has been fishing these Atlantic waters for a century and no one is more interested in the sustainability of the resource than we are. However, we are disappointed by the ASMFC’s decision to adopt these harvest reductions,” said Bret D. Scholtes, Chief Executive Officer of Omega Protein.
“There is significant scientific consensus that the most recent assessment of the Atlantic menhaden stock has a negative bias that underestimates the population. We therefore believe these measures are premature, if not wholly unnecessary. Omega Protein remains committed to participating in future management actions, and remains hopeful for a more science-based decision making process that preserves both the menhaden resource and the working communities whose economies are sustained by the menhaden fishery.”
- Menhaden catch could be slashed