REEDVILLE, VA / ACCESSWIRE / May 13, 2019 / In an editorial published last week, Sport Fishing Magazine impugns the integrity of both the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Atlantic menhaden fishery. In response to the recommendation by the independent auditor that the menhaden fishery be MSC certified, editor Doug Olander makes accusations of impropriety rather than than critiquing the fishery, the independent assessment or the MSC process on its merits.
MSC certification has always been based on objective criteria, which are evaluated by independent, third party auditors. Fisheries are evaluated against 28 different performance indicators, measuring the health of the species, the effectiveness of the management, and the environmental impact of the fishery. Fisheries must meet minimum scores on all of these indicators in order to be considered for certification.
The process is entirely transparent, publicly available and easily accessible to Mr. Olander. If a fishery doesn't score high enough on the assessment, it isn't certified. Fisheries can be denied certification, and several fisheries have lost their certification for not maintaining standards.
Mr. Olander writes that Omega Protein is "buying its way to public respectability," and looking to "wrap itself in a cloak of respectability by claiming it's a certified sustainable fishery." In fact, as made clear in the report compiled by the independent auditors, the menhaden fishery does meet the rigorous criteria for MSC certification.
The fishery is healthy: according to fishery managers at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the species is not overfished, nor is it experiencing overfishing. The management is effective: the fishery is well-monitored and the ASMFC uses the most up-to-date science in managing the fishery. The Commission has been extremely precautionary when setting harvest quotas and is currently developing new, ecosystem-based management, a process which Omega Protein supports. In its assessment for MSC certification, the menhaden fishery passed all 28 categories used to evaluate it.
Mr. Olander isn't just wrong about the independence and integrity of the MSC process; he gets key facts wrong about the fishery, making wild, misleading claims. He blames the "industrial menhaden-reduction fishery" for current problems facing striped bass. But this ignores all of the available evidence. According to the ASMFC, striped bass are overfished, and overfishing of the species by recreational anglers has been cited as the main cause, the same anglers which are Mr. Olander's primary audience. The issues facing striped bass are due to overfishing.
The menhaden fishery was recommended for MSC certification because it deserves to be certified as a result of the overwhelming scientific evidence.
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 Alpha VesselCo, LLC 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 Alpha VesselCo, LLC, an independent company.
Director of Public Affairs, Omega Protein
SOURCE: Omega Protein