Five days ago I posted a blog about the Omega Protein Menhaden plant in Reedville, VA. In those five days, we’ve been completely stunned by the fact that we’ve had over 25k hits on the blog and 2k shares on Facebook which is crazy. I’ve also had tons of comments calling me every name in the book. I’ve been called vile, ignorant and uneducated along with many other colorful things and I’ve responded to every, single comment as calmly and rationally as I possibly could. This open letter will serve as my final comment as I’m finding that most who comment have read no further than the title and merely wish to assault my character and repost things I’ve already answered. So here goes.
1. To the claim that this (Omega’s environmental violations and over-fishing) is an “…old argument and a dead issue.” I say this. Look at the stats above and the heated responses and tell me it’s a dead issue.
2. To the claim that I hate Reedville: Please read the blog and not just the title. We like Reedville. We’ve anchored there several times. I said, “If boaters don’t go to Reedville until the Omega plant plays by the rules, then they will lose tourist dollars and therefore (maybe) put pressure on their local officials.” It’s up to the Reedville townspeople to remedy this issue. Vote out the ones who turn a blind eye, or suffer the financial consequences of lost tourist dollars. That’s how it works.
* Footnote: I find it incredibly ironic that a lot of the derogatory remarks mention how Reedville needs “every dollar they can get.” They are dismayed and curse me for suggesting that people should stay away from Reedville until the issue is resolved yet there are numerous comments from those same locals blaming and chastising tourists and visitors to the area calling them “come heres”. One lovely citizen said he was going to start a petition suggesting we “…kill ourselves.” Oh, but not before apologizing to the fine folks of Reedville.
3. To the claim that I blame / hate the watermen: Please read this carefully because it’s important. Nowhere in my blog post do I blame watermen. I blame Omega Protein Corporation. Now, try as you may to rearrange all those letters, you will not get “watermen” out of that. I understand and respect the fishing tradition. I don’t, however, understand or respect the over-fishing or dumping of chemicals into the Chesapeake Bay. It’s very simple.
4. To the completely unenlightened who will never change, i.e. Cavemen (and women): I don’t even know how to speak to you. Maybe if I bang a couple rocks together, drag my knuckles on the ground and pound my chest while drooling beer from corners of my mouth, you’ll understand what has become the English language. I simply say, good luck.
In closing, So many of you claim that Omega sustains the town and that if it goes, then so goes Reedville. I totally understand this argument. But just because a business is the sole employer of a town, it’s not above the law or social responsibility. Many other factors contribute to the health / decline of the Chesapeake Bay and we all know that. They should also be addressed. But I guess I’ve been most amazed by the townspeople of Reedville and the Northern neck of Virginia’s reticence to accept what’s going on. It’s truly baffling. I am not a right-winged environmentalist, nor a “blogger turned hater.” I’m a sailor and a writer. I’ve made my living by observing and writing about what I see, and I write in my voice. You can not like my voice. You can discredit the source. You and call me ugly, vile and negative all you want but it doesn’t change the facts.
To the citizens of Reedvile, you are responsible for resolving this issue. The spotlight is bright upon you. As one reader so eloquently put it, “…Who knows, maybe the history books will tell of how a small town in Virginia had a huge part in decimating an entire region like the Chesapeake Bay. Or just maybe it will tell of how some people stepped up to the plate and put a stop to one lone company offering a lousy 350 full time and seasonal jobs.”
Good luck Reedville. I hope the conversation continues but I’m not sure the ‘cavemen’ will ever admit there’s a problem. Maybe when that plant closes due to the loss of fish you’ll realize they never had your best interest above company profits.
All the best.