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From Rudow's FishTalk website report, in early July an Omega Protein net broke, according to the company, spilling tens of thousands of dead menhaden across Virginia's Eastern Shore shoreline from Cherrystone to Cape Charles. Now we learn that this past Monday, an Omega boat "released" so many dead fish that Kiptopeke State Park staff had to close the beaches. A Park Alert on the park website currently reads "The swimming beach and southern beach are closed for cleanup from a fish spill." Omega immediately began an aggressive cleanup effort, and perhaps most disturbingly, ShoreDailyNews is reporting that there were people on the beach "picking up red drum that were among the menhaden washed up on the shore, who then transported them to one of the nine menhaden boats that were still in the area." Too late, Omega - a coverup simply won't work in this day and age, as the proof is already out there: EMERGENCY ANGLER ALERT: Dead Reds, Courtesy of Omega | FishTalk Magazine
Omega Protein issued this press release:
"Yesterday, Monday, July 25, while fishing for menhaden, an Ocean Harvesters vessel fishing on behalf of Omega Protein had a rare and unexpected encounter with a school of red drum.
"Menhaden fishing is performed using spotter aircraft whose pilots are experienced in identifying schools of various species from the air. When a spotter pilot sees a school of menhaden, they direct the fishing vessels on the water to that location where they will surround the school with a net called a 'purse seine...' When a menhaden spotter pilot sees a school of fish that they identify as red drum or another game fish species, they will advise their boats to avoid that location, and as a courtesy, will often radio recreational captains in the area with the location of the sport fish.
"On Monday, the Ocean Harvesters crew made a set approximately 1 mile offshore of Kiptopeke State Park. While bringing the menhaden aboard the vessel, the captain attentively noted a group of red drum in the net. He immediately instructed the crew to open the net and release the fish. The crew observed that many fish swam away, but the captain acknowledged that many fish likely died in the incident.
"It is a rare event for menhaden nets to interact with red drum, or any other species...The most likely explanation is the unusual situation in which a school of red drum swam beneath a school of menhaden, making them unobservable to the spotter pilot...
"...Bycatch in the menhaden fishery is rare. Current research indicates that catch of non-targeted species comprises less than 1 percent of the volume..."
Charles Witek had much more to say about this incident in his blog, One Angler's Voyage - "The (press) release is a wonderful example of a corporate public relations department doing its best to sugar-coat an unpleasant truth, in this case, the harm that its operations do to publicly owned natural resources." You should read his full story on Combating Bycatch In Large-Scale Fisheries here: ONE ANGLER'S VOYAGE: COMBATING BYCATCH IN LARGE-SCALE FISHERIES: COULD CIVIL RESTITUTION PLAY A ROLE? (oneanglersvoyage.blogspot.com)




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VoterVoice
 

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I think fines and restitution might play a role, but the agencies responsible for enforcement and adjudication for events like this are typically state run, tend to cave to the harvesting industries, and are susceptible to industry pressure and legal tactics. So unless this violates a federal regulation I don't hold out any hope for a meaningful correction here.
 

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That's total propaganda BS. Everything and I mean everything forages on Menhaden. It's pretty easy to tell when it's happening because the Menhaden go crazy trying to escape and will go airborne to try to get away.

Kick them out of state waters and problem solved plus they can still make their miracle pills and chicken feed by fishing in the ocean.
 

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Don’t just read about this mess here. Do something about it. The Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Assn along with 11 other national and 9 state organizations are petitioning the Governor to move Omega Protein out of the Chesapeake Bay into Ocean Waters. You can sign that petition at:
Stop Industrial Menhaden Fishing in the Chesapeake Bay | Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
If you live in Virginia, call the Governors office at 804-786-2211 and tell him to stop the industrial fishing for menhaden in the bay and call or write your representatives in the General Assembly. There is a reason every other east coast state including N.C. has banned this type of fishing in state wagers. Don’t just read and comment here, that won’t fix the problem. Make your voice heard.
 

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"...Bycatch in the menhaden fishery is rare. Current research indicates that catch of non-targeted species comprises less than 1 percent of the volume..."

How much you wanna bet that research was paid for by omega?
 

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Bycatch again…Omega is allowed to harvest 51,000 Metric tons of menhaden annually in the Chesapeake Bay. A Metric Ton is actually 2,204.6 lbs not our normal 2,000 lbs for a ton. So 51,000 MT equates to 112,434,600 lbs. 1% of that would be 1,124,245 lbs. Regardless of what kind of fish are in the by catch, 1,124,245 lbs is a lot. Read my earlier post, do something about it, sign the petition, call the governor, call your representatives in the General Assembly. It is time for this to stop! Move the Industrial fishery out of the bay into the Ocean.
 

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To a smaller scale the same thing happens to Assateague VA, they open the OSV hook September 1st every year to see the local commercial guys setting their nets from one end to the other 30' to 50' off the low tide line completely blocking fisherman from being able to take advantage of this great fishing location. We have seen them pulling their nets with drum, rock federally protected sharks including great whites keeping everything but the sharks which are dead
 
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