Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Conservationists Concerned About Menhaden Protection

The Atlantic fishery produced about half a billion pounds [of menhaden] last year, the data shows.

The Atlantic Fishery Management Commission, which regulates fishing in federal waters on the East Coast, chose to limit the catch there, citing overfishing and a dramatic drop in the size of the menhaden population. Some scientific assessments concluded that the population was about 8 percent of historic levels on the Atlantic Coast.

Omega Protein, a Texas-based company with processing plants in Moss Point and Louisiana, harvests almost all of the menhaden caught along both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Menhaden are processed and used to make animal feed, fish bait and oils used in vitamins and products such as lipstick.

Faced with a nearly 40 percent reduction in the Atlantic harvest level, some worry Omega Protein will increase the catch coming out of the Gulf to make up the difference. Company officials said they were still analyzing what the lower harvest limits in the Atlantic will mean for operations. Ben Landry, an Omega Protein spokesman, said the company did not plan to increase the Gulf harvest “for the foreseeable future.”
If Omega Protein's main business is menhaden fishing, and the products they derive from them, and the Atlantic menhaden fishery is cut back, of course they're going to look elsewhere for a source of available fish.  That doesn't mean you have to let them.

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