I’ll Take Menhaden
Tiny fish being wiped out to make health-food supplements
Omega Protein Corp. is overharvesting a little Chesapeake Bay fish called menhaden in order to make omega-3 fatty-acid food supplements for its health-crazed customers, leading to a decline in the striped bass that eat them (the menhaden, not the supplements or the health-crazed customers). This according to Greenpeace, which protested at Omega’s Reedville, Va., plant on Saturday. Omega uses 66 ships and 30 spotter planes to hoover up whole shoals of menhaden from the bay. Omega’s offered to cap annual take at about 149,000 tons for the next four years while the stock is assessed, but critics contend this exceeds the current catch. The U.S. Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has rejected Omega’s proposal, and will be meeting to consider menhaden management. Some locals express support for Omega, which provides hundreds of jobs during fishing season, but folks did come check out the protest. “We’ve had a few people come up and say, ‘We just wanted to see what you guys looked like,'” said one Greenpeacer.
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