REEDVILLE, VA / ACCESSWIRE / August 5, 2020 / Omega Protein supports today’s decision by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to adopt Ecological Reference Points (ERPs) for Atlantic menhaden, and looks forward to working with the Commission and its staff on further developing the ERP model and identifying future harvest levels for the fishery.
The ERP working group has worked for many years to develop the ecosystem model, and we will continue to support its development as the model’s accuracy and reliability improves over the next few years. It is now the responsibility of the Commission to accurately estimate the populations of both menhaden and its predators and then make fair and equitable management decisions based upon the model’s findings.
The best available science shows that current management is already doing much to ensure that menhaden meets ecological needs. A recent study by Dr. Steve Cadrin of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth found that 99.5 percent of menhaden born each year are left in the water to serve as forage for predators and meet other ecosystem roles, with only one half of one percent harvested by the fishery. The latest Commission stock assessment further confirms that menhaden is not overfished, nor is overfishing occurring, with menhaden biomass near record highs. The fishery is also certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
All these positive indicators should not be surprising, as the menhaden fishery has been operating at the levels suggested by the ERP model for the past two decades.
However, the Commission will also likely need to control fishing on predator stocks, as many key species are currently overfished. This could result in harvest reductions for predator species; the Commission cannot rely on the availability of menhaden alone to rebuild these predator stocks.
As recognized at this week’s meeting and in peer reviews by the Center of Independent Experts, having menhaden in the water at any abundance level is not guaranteed to help predator species reach their target biomass levels. In fact, expert scientists have stated that a moratorium on all menhaden fishing would not enable some predators to reach their target biomass without harvest reductions.
About Omega Protein
Omega Protein Corporation is a century-old nutritional product company that develops, produces and delivers healthy products throughout the world to improve the nutritional integrity of foods, dietary supplements and animal feeds. Omega Protein’s mission is to help people lead healthier lives with better nutrition through sustainably sourced ingredients such as highly-refined specialty oils, specialty proteins products and nutraceuticals. Omega Protein is a division of Cooke Inc., a family-owned fishery company based in New Brunswick, Canada.
The Company operates seven manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada and Europe. The Company also has a long-term supply contract with Ocean Harvesters, which owns 30 vessels which harvest menhaden, a fish abundantly found off the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The Company’s website is www.omegaprotein.com.
All fishing vessels formerly owned by Omega Protein are owned and operated by Ocean Harvesters, an independent company.
SOURCE: Omega Protein
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