paulyfish

Stopping Omega Protein Inc/Cooke before they stop us

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A battle is brewing just off our shores, and this one is being fought to protect one of our ecosystem’s most valuable species – the menhaden.

 

(*from Rock a Wave website)

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The Omega Protein Corporation – a global enterprise that grinds up menhaden, also known as bunker, to make fish oil supplements and other products – has recently filed for a Sustainability Certificate from the Marine Stewardship Council. This certificate, much like the “dolphinsafe” stickers commonly placed on tuna cans, would allow Omega to label its products as coming from an environmentally friendly and sustainable source.

In order to achieve their certification, Omega underwent a review by a company called SAI Global, which examined previously-published literature and charts and seemed to look favorably upon Omega’s sustainability credentials. That literature, however, has become a point of debate.

“The science being used here is about five years out of date,” explained Paul Sieswerda, the President of the NYC-based whale advocacy group Gotham Whale. “This is something we can expect when we are dealing with peer-reviewed sources, because it takes a while for studies to be published. But we have hard evidence that these boats will be operating in areas that are frequented by dolphins and whales. They’ll be taking food right out of these creature’s mouths.”

One of the key points that Sieswerda debates in SAI’s finding is the company’s claim that Omega’s operations will be avoiding areas where whales are known to hunt. That, however, is simply untrue, and Paul has the charts to prove it.

“In the past, there weren’t too many whales and dolphins living in the inshore area which Omega plans to fish. But today we’re seeing these creatures here every day” Sieswerda said. “They’re becoming more and more common in our area, and this is largely due to the growth of the menhaden population.”

Menhaden Defenders founder and New Jersey-based fisherman Paul Eidman agrees with Sieswerda’s assessment. “Right now, I can go out there and reliably see dolphins and whales every day. That wasn’t the case a few years ago, but since the bunker have started to come back, so too have the other species.”

Eidman also believes that many of the sources utilized by SAI were simply looking in the wrong places. “The studies they have now look solely at the impact of fishing on the menhaden population itself,” Eidman told The Wave, explaining that current research uses a study known as maximum sustainable yield.

“That’s the way they judge catch sizes for salmon and tuna. But menhaden can’t be treated like regular fish. They’re far too important to the ecosystem, and any study on them needs to take into account the species that rely on them to survive.”

This belief was supported by John Gans of The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), who said that the menhaden were a “key low trophic level species” – in other words they play a vital part in the survival of our ecosystem.

“Anglers have long understood the critical relationship between menhaden and sportfish, particularly striped bass, tarpon, and Bluefin tuna, weakfish, bluefish et al., prime targets of recreational fishermen on the East Coast. Specifically, recreational anglers know that when Atlantic menhaden are abundant, so too are sport fish.”

By pulling the menhaden from the water, Gans says that Omega would be removing a primary food source for these fish, thereby decreasing their number.

In order to get the word to Omega and to the Marine Stewardship Council and prevent a sustainability certificate from being unduly awarded, Sieswerda and his allies have put up a petition at https://gothamwhale.org/take-action/.

Anyone is welcome to sign, and Sieswerda says that each signature goes directly to Omega and the Marine Stewardship Council.

“We aren’t looking to put Omega out of business,” Eidman told The Wave. “We just want them to fish with the environment in mind, not just profit.”
 

 

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Edited by TimS
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8 hours ago, paulyfish said:

A battle is brewing just off our shores, and this one is being fought to protect one of our ecosystem’s most valuable species – the menhaden.

 

21559092_1630029663715430_1964281209048132955_n.jpg

 

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2 hours ago, biggfishhead said:

i saw many pods of unmolested bunker this fall. i dont think lack of bunker is the problem

 

Ok but how many did you see in the chessie and delaware bays.  You know those places where the bass go to spawn?

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12 hours ago, biggfishhead said:

i saw many pods of unmolested bunker this fall. i dont think lack of bunker is the problem

 

That's a local phenomenon like everything else lately. No different than the guy who slams 20# bass and proclaims a great season, while a guy 10 miles away can't find a guppy all year. The Omega boats showed up in the NY Bight this past fall and sucked up 10's of millions of bunker in a couple of days...then poof, they are gone and so are all the bunker everyone was talking about. The acid test on these guys coming to NY / NJ waters is "why are they here if the bunker population is so healthy ? " There should have been enough bunker in Md / VA  waters and in the Chessy....but there are not enough. Guessing why ?

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Fight them tooth and nail.  In a very rare instance of sound fisheries management policy for North Carolina, we got Omega out of our state waters a few years ago.  The results are already noticeable.  We have a lot more menhaden ("pogies" or "shad" down here; "Bunkaaah" to you) in our water, and they are mainstays for our near shore cobia, king mackerel and dolphin fisheries.  Omega's boats are indeed plying your waters because they crashed the populations off VA and MD. 

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I signed

but the real problem is the govt cronies that control the corporation's actions.

the history of the Americas is one of corporate plunder, that's a fact.

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Yes, fight Omega Protein. I fish Maryland, you don't know how much the Menhaden schools have been reduced in the bay. They make fish oil and fish food for the fish farm industry. Some day you will go to a fish farm to catch your Rockfish like some of those pay for Trout ponds.

Menhaden are filter feeders. The Bay needs all the filter feeders it can get. Plant Oysters to filter the Bay while you suck up the other big filter feeder to supply fish farms in South America who claim they don't use local food sources for the feed. Yes, they are using Chesapeake Bay Bunker pellets.

The subject comes up all the time but Recreational fishers really have no power to stop this. I think we should stop buying fishing products from companies who don't support Conservation of the resource.

 

M

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1 hour ago, toenail said:

. I think we should stop buying fishing products from companies who don't support Conservation of the resource.

 

M

this.........

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17 hours ago, biggfishhead said:

i saw many pods of unmolested bunker this fall. i dont think lack of bunker is the problem

 

That's easy to assume when we fish right in the middle of ground zero for the entire population. As soon as you go further North or South, those folks are not as blessed as we are. 

Key issue at stake here is feeding and keeping the bass healthy in the Chesapeake Bay so they can make more babies and keep the coast filled with bass.

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5 hours ago, JoeGBreezy said:

That's a local phenomenon like everything else lately. No different than the guy who slams 20# bass and proclaims a great season, while a guy 10 miles away can't find a guppy all year. The Omega boats showed up in the NY Bight this past fall and sucked up 10's of millions of bunker in a couple of days...then poof, they are gone and so are all the bunker everyone was talking about. The acid test on these guys coming to NY / NJ waters is "why are they here if the bunker population is so healthy ? " There should have been enough bunker in Md / VA  waters and in the Chessy....but there are not enough. Guessing why ?

 

 

I went out to take pictures of them when they were up here. They 6.8 miles from Sandy Hook, complete with the spotter plane directing the purse boats around the schools. #nobunkernobass

 

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Edited by paulyfish
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