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I would like for you to provide the name of at least 1 crabber who buys his bait from Omega. Also Name 1 charter boat who buys their bait for chumming from Omega. All the ones I know buy their bait from trap netters
 

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Thanks Crazy. It's just human nature to strike out at things you think might be harmful to you or your lifestyle. An awful lot of highly emotional but ill informed rhetoric has been expended on this subject. I have not pretended to know the right answer(s) but the subject is a lot more complex than many realize. As a (now) part-time resident of Northumberland County and a lifelong sportsman I commend you on your choice of education and apparent planned vocation. Please keep us posted.
 

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Interesting read. I am NOT a member of CCA, however, I must say that I've read a lot of information on this subject and have not one time come across any statement sanctioned by the CCA to the effect that they want to put Omega out of business.

To the contrary I've read where they are only looking to have reasonable jurisdiction of the fishery and want it transferred from the legislature where a lot of these state governments types who are regulating the industry do not even know what a menhaden is and how it benefits the overall marine ecology. CCA from what I've read is asking the the VMRC take over the legislation of this fishery.......

Now Greenpeace......................... that's another story. [excited] [sad] They are just unreasonable altogether. [shy]
 

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Thank you for expressing your conclusions regarding Omega and the menhaden industry. Some further clarifications would help us better understand your comments.
1. Please cite the specific studies and reports so that we can look them up and read the entire reports.
2. Who is the "we" that you say "have concluded that the Atlantic Coast Stock is at healthy levels, including those found in the Chesapeake Bay?"
3. Did you mean or conclude that the menhaden stock in the Bay is at healthy levels or that the menhaden stock found in the Bay is merely counted as part of the Atlantic Coast Stock?
4. My own limited literature search has found studies that conluded that the Atlantic Coast Stock (as a whole) is reported to be at healthy levels, but that the ASMFC wants to conduct research on the menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay to determine if the Bay stock is being overly depleted, primarily by Omega.
5. I agree with you that the quality of the water in the Bay is of great concern and that the increasing coastal population and related industrial and residential pollution is stressing the water quality in the Bay. Do you believe that there is or might be a connection between water quality and the quantity of menhaden in the Bay and that more menhaden might help improve or at least slow down the decline in water quality?
6. I am concerned that your love of the Bay and your homeland may prevent you from conducting unbiased research on this particular issue. It appears that you have already reached a conclusion before the ASMFC conducts the study on the possible localized depletion of menhaden in the Bay primarily as a result of overfishing in the Bay by Omega. Please consider this comment and follow the advice of Thomas Jefferson, who said "Seek truth wherever it might lead."
 

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While you are at it look into the study VIMS did about 10 years ago regarding bycatch and don't forget to ask Kirkley for the followup report where he looked at the POUNDS of bycatch rather than the number of fish. 1% of 400,000,000 pounds is 4,000,000 pounds of allowed bycatch. Furthermore some of the bycatch was flounder, croaker, etc. that don't chase after menhaden.

I agree that they probably don't have that bad of a bycatch when the school of fish is isolated and in deep water, but not in places like Mobjack bay, or in the shallow coastal waters of the ocean in the late fall when they illegally set their nets on recreational fishermen who are in set trolling paterns fishing for and catching striped bass. Talk to your buddies at VIMS who did the bycatch studies see what they have to say about what they saw.

As far as Omega not catching to many menhaden out of the bay. Don't they catch somewhere between 30% and 70% of the coast wide stocks of age 2 and 3 fish every year, and most of those fish come from the Chesapeake Bay, which is only a small fraction of the range of the species. No I don't think that we know enough about the bay.

While you are at it is there any real studies like the trawl survey that tracks the population of the year 0 fish, (or menhaden for in general for that matter) From what I can tell the populations studies in all of the reports just back calculate the numbers based on older fish. Otherwise they have a really consistent natural mortality of 98.7% for the past 50 years. There had to be a bad year in there somewhere.

As far as the rest of the age classes, what studies other than Omega's harvest numbers do they use to determine that the population is healthy?

On the state wide economics. What about unemployment money paid to Omega employees during the off season? They are the only commercial fishery that is allowed specifically in state code to collect it. The rest of them have to figure out how to get by in the off season. How does that amount compare to the state taxes paid by Omega?

Another exonomic question. With the added value of their new food suplement products, why can't Omega afford the extra fuel and to pay their employees the extra hours to fish outside of the bay for the fish over what they have been doing in the past 5 years.

If they want to be good citizens why can't they spend a few more dollars and fish in the open ocean?

Sam
 

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You Guys Switched Threads On Me So I am Moving My Response to this one which seems a bit more active.

Crazymofo........since your found it necessary to post your education and Alma Mater up front... than it would be interesting to have you qualify your resume in terms of how long you have been working (post graduate) in the field of fishery management or related science field. With all due respect, you make and absolute scientific statement as to the fact that

"I, along with the institute, have been conducting exhausting studies on the menhadden fisheries and stock and we have concluded that the Atlantic Coast Stock is at healthy levels, including those found in the Chesapeake Bay".

There has been much discussion and disagreement on this matter but I have yet to see the scientific community take this absolute postion. Omega by their own admission and from their sales and profit reports show a reduction in both the number of Menhaden and also the quality of Menhaden (I will get to that later).

Who is Mr. Lockhart and what is his relationship to this issue (just curious)?

If the ASMFC agrees that the Menhaden population is healthy than why did they vote 12 to 3 ( may be off by 1 or 2) to impose a poundage cap on Omega while studies continued on this matter. I understand why Virginia and PRFC voted against it but clearly there was sufficient concern and doubt to cause the other 12 states to take a pause.

You are clearly far more knowledgable than I on the economical situation surrounding Northumberland, VA and I expect that most if not all of what you say regarding this subject is true and accurate but Omega will not solve a large scale economically depressed situation that you describe. Omega is a relatively small company with sales of approximately $120 Mil of which a significant portion is in Mississippi and Louisiana. Total employee count is approximately 1,000 of which a bit more than 200 work in Reedville. Northumberland and other areas throughout the U.S. will continue to struggle economically until such time that conditions exist that attract businesses and an infusion of cash. I applaud your desire to keep that area the same way it was 50 years ago but there is unfortunately a price to pay for unobstructed views and fresh air (oops can't make that claim........smile)

I clearly agree with you claim that water quality is a prime source for the problems of the bay and clearly encroachment, the building boom, and still uncontrolled handling of waste by corporations need to be seriously addressed. At the same time, Omega removes the most efficent filter feeder left in the bay and it is in my opinion impacting the water quality along with numerous other factors.

Omega as a company and even before the "Cap" was imposed admits that their business is in a decline. They are barely profitable making 2% profit on sales of approximately $120 Mil in sales. Most board of directors of most corporations would fire CEO's and managers for delivering this low of a profit margin but to omega they view it as a volume business and thus try and increase their volume. At 7 cents a pound do you know how many menhaden you have to catch to achieve sales of $120,000,000? Omega in reports to their share holders blame the decline on 1) lower volume catches than anticipated and 2) a decline in the quality of the menhaden being caught in terms of fat content etc.

Menhadden is not the only bait used by crabbing and chumming with bunker is not the only approach for hook and lining. Razor clams are often used and many are switching from Menhaden to other baits as it is becoming difficult to find bunker from the local pound nets and those who have tradionally sold it. Maybe not down in your area but clearly in the Potomac River and portions of the bay.

The spring Rock Fish season was in fact one of the best ones in the past 5-6 years but I personally don't believe it had anything to do with Bunker jumping into my boat but rather ideal weather conditions that allowed the tempertures to hover at the low 50's for a prolonged period of time which stretched out the spawning season and slowed the return of migratory Rock Fish to the colder Northern Waters.

You seem to have a very good handle on the history of the local area but I caution you to not let local sentiment cloud your scientific conclusions. As with at least one other person I would appreciate seeing evidence that backs up your claims regarding the state and health of the Menhaden and I truly hope your correct and I will bow to your knowledge if this is true.

Regardless I appreciate you inputs and welcome your views and thoughts on this most difficult subject. If anyone is interested in the facts and information I provided regarding Omega, you can view them on Omega's home page.

Jim (Instigator)............pardon my numerous spelling mistakes!


The following is a small example Directly off the Omega Webpage but 100's of other articles not generated by Omega exist on this subject:


Omega Protein Reports $3.2 Million Profit For 2004



HOUSTON, March 9, 2005 - Omega Protein Corporation (NYSE symbol: OME), the world's largest manufacturer of heart-healthy fish oils containing long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, today reported net income for the 2004 fiscal year of $3.2 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with net income of $5.8 million, or 24 cents a share, the previous year.

Omega Protein recorded revenues of $119.6 million for the 2004 fiscal year which ended December 31, compared with revenues of $117.9 million for 2003. Operating income for 2004 was $5.3 million, versus operating income of $9.5 million for the prior year.

For the fourth quarter of 2004, the Company recorded net loss of $1.1 million, compared with net income of $31,000 the corresponding 2003 quarter. Revenues for the quarter which ended December 31, 2004 were $26.6 million, versus revenues of $33.4 million for the corresponding 2003 quarter. Omega Protein had an operating loss of $1.6 million for the 2004 fourth quarter, compared with an operating loss of $95,000 for the 2003 fourth quarter.

Omega Protein's fourth quarter results, as well as the results for the full year, reflect a lower than expected fish catch (approximately 18% below 2004 expectations and approximately 8% below 2003 fish catch level), combined with low oil yields. The reduced fish catch was primarily attributable to adverse weather conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and the low oil yields were due to reduced fat content of the fish. The reduced fish catch and low oil yields resulted in higher per unit cost inventories, as well as less product available for sale.
 

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My bilge float isn't working so I am currently manually pumping the bilge as we get a downpour (should have fixed that darn thing), soooo real quick here.....

I agree with Jim in regards to why did ASMFC move to CAP the production, and then study local depletion, if the research already indicates a healthy "local" supply? If you were lumping the bay into the East Coast population I can understand, but the focus by ASMFC seems to be a local depletion. I am also curious, and would like to see the research that indicates the bay stocks are healthy. Also, I think there is also some constirnation by bait fish lovers over what and how you are defining "healthy populations" if you could explain that it might help too.

In regards to 2% profit. Welcome to the ag commodity business my friend. THat is not uncommon. Slim profit is made off of volumes. One reason why Continental Grain closed their grain export business. A few wrong decisions and that 2% is gone. That is why they are trying to add value to their fish oil by adding the refining operation to their plant. All companies involved in ag commodities try to add value to their commodity to take it out of the "commodity status"....been there done that. My company finally sold to another company who was trying to gain additional volume for their 2% profit.

Regarding Omegas size. Good point Jim. First time I have heard someone admit that. Most posts on this subject on this board want to paint Omega as some sort of industrial giant that eats baby's for breakfast....nonsensical hooplah, not surprising these same people are taking up arms with Greanpeace. Omega (Reedville) harvest all year what the Peruvian fleet harvests in 1-2 days. The Reedville plant is not all that big.

Finally regarding the actual menhaden discussion. It appears to me after reading the many different scientific studies on the matter that scientists state that the stocks are healthy on the East Coast, however, recruitment is low. The question is how can reproductive stocks be healthy and recruitment low. Omega harvests older fish, the fish spawn in the ocean not the bay, so Omega can't damage the recruitment unless they over harvest the mature stocks (or the extremely young) according to scientists neither is happening. Hence, the claim by some scientist that the increased numbers of rockfish could be increasing their consumption of young is a valid theory (I now it is hard to stomach for many). So through all the rhetoric I read on this, the real question that anyone should have is twofold. First, is there a localized depletion of menhaden in the bay. Second, is the need to study the "localized depletion" in a new way, taking into account environmental impact. Unless I am mistaken, that is what ASMFC is proposing to do. There is nothing wrong with studying the impact of a business on the environment. However, shutting down a company based on speculation is not morally and/or politically palatable especially to the politicians now in charge and it is not fair to the people that Mofo describes.
 

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A slightly different take on the economics:

Why do some think that Omega is shoring up this great old community with only 1000 jobs?
Are these nice high paying, good tax revenue jobs? Do they encourage these people to, or give them the ability to have a nice home and generate the kind of tax base that it takes to fix old schools or encourage development? If the area has been in economic decline for years, what makes anyone think that Omega will do a dang thing to stop it now? Why would anyone be nieve enough to think they even can?

New tax payers ie. “Development” is the only way to increase a tax base without further burdening existing taxpayers with higher rates.

Retired “urbanites” build big homes and pay higher property taxes. (I hope to be one…one day) It will take quite a few of them to help but it is a start.

Real gains will only be made for that economy when other jobs come to the area. Because of the location, I doubt it will be anything other than Bay related.

Let’s say for the sake of discussion that Omega shuts down and they bulldoze the site and put in a resort community. Hotel, Marina, golf course with a planned community, put-put, movie theater and maybe a few other family fun things. I am talking about a “destination” not just another marina.

BANG! There’s a 1000+ jobs up front that would pay better than people handling fish guts. Now comes the support business…you need more restaurants for all of those visitors to eat, stores for them to shop in and gas stations to fill their cars trucks and boats. I could go on and on about the support businesses that would spring up in support of this “new” development. I think you get the idea.

All the people in the support businesses have to live some place. That means more new homes being built, more new taxpayers and who will build them…MORE JOBS! GREAT jobs like carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. Where will they live? Where will all those new kids go to school? This new influx of people will give the tax revenue to rehab the old buildings and or build new ones and the infrastructure will improve. Before you know it, you traded 1000 crappy jobs for 10,000+ good ones and added thousands of new taxpayers to the area who will live there.

Whether there is a problem or not with Omega, they are not the solution to the northern neck economy.

And yes there will be plenty who will not want it and prefer to stay a run down old community with schools that are falling apart. There always are.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.”
 

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[Q]Scott_nra originally wrote:
And yes there will be plenty who will not want it and prefer to stay a run down old community
[/Q]Yes, it's got to go. We should move immediately to change it to be just like metro Richmond, GlenAllen, Mechanicsville, and so on. High traffic, urban sprawl, high crime, etc. etc. etc.
 

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I agree Captain George, lets turn into another Richmond/Charlottesville/Norfolk subdivison. Thats exactly what our great commonwealth needs. Tear every tree down, line every road with strip malls, hell, lets pave over the entire Northern Neck. It must be done! We must "make the schools better".
We need "progress" in the form of urban sprawl, or all the heathens in the NN will live in abject poverty. Lets bulldoze Omega, throw up a high-rise hotel, and completely destroy everything that is good about the NN.
 

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IMHO - I think many might be missing the real issue here. The overall health of the bay and it's fish has little to do with Omega and much to do with pollution as a result of industry & maybe irresponsible development in the entire Chesapeake watershed. A huge, fast growing area.

There was an ad campaign this year addressing this issue but I'm not sure it got enough traction/exposure. There seems to be a lot of energy expended piling on Omega, maybe some deserved, but if you really want to make a difference I'd use that energy to generate and support ideas to reduce pollution levels.

If Omega were gone tomorrow what percentage of the problem would be fixed and what other problems would be created?
 

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Thanks George and Fleet on for helping me make my point.

Boohoo we have no jobs.
Boohoo we are going to loose jobs
Boohoo are schools are bad
Boohoo our people are poor
v/s
Boohoo there is sprawl
Boohoo developers are taking over (ie. making money)
Boohoo there are crowds
Boohoo there is more traffic

Either way, someone is whining.

I'm selfish. I don't live there. I just visit. I LOVE it like it is! Quiet, uncrowded, unspoiled. If you don't like living there because of the schools, jobs or whatever...move.

On the other hand, if you want more "progress" for the area because you live there or care about the people who live there, (Read that "development") I can not argue against it. That to me would be more selfish yet.

So what the heck are we supposed to do? I don't know...I'm just a guy who like to fish and tries to pay attention. But I do notice that there are certain persons who scream "Urban Sprawl" at any mention of words like, "Neighborhoods" or "Development". They get all worked up and kick and holler and nothing really gets done either way. George, I am not talking about or picking on you here particularly. It happens everywhere.

Maybe that's good too. Maybe everything can always stay just like is has always been. Same old problems, no new problems, no solutions to anything we don't really care about anyway. Just leave it all alone and it will be just fine.

Is that what we want? Who's benefit is it for? I don't know.
 

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What? No reply from Crazymofo to our questions seeking the sources of the studies and clarification of his assertions/"facts" regarding the Bay stock of menhaden? I am not surprised. If VIMS is conducting a study for ASMFC, they should remove anyone from the project who has such a built-in bias and cannot support assertions which are claimed instead to be scientific facts.
Actually, I hope that an unbiased study will be able to demonstrate that depletion of menhaden in the Bay is not a problem and that both the Bay, its fishermen, and Omega can peacefully coexist and prosper. If, on the other hand, such a study were to conclude that nursery stocks within the Bay were in trouble, the allowable catch in the Bay should be reduced to a level that would sustain and replenish the population.
What do you think?
 
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