1/2 a billion pounds annually. Try to conceptualize that amount. One-half of a billion pounds of menhaden fish are harvested every single year from the Chesapeake Bay.
I don’t consider myself a journalist by any means, and most certainly not an investigative journalist. While I do love the investigative spirit that exposes corruption and abuse, I don’t know that I have the patience to sift through all the misinformation nor do I have the gene that keeps me from screaming “BULLSHIT!” in the face of the politicians and industry mouth pieces mid-sentence.
That said, after spending some time in the lovely little town of Reedville, Virginia, Melody and I started asking some questions about the foul-smelling fish plant that dominates the landscape.
People around the lower Chesapeake Bay don’t seem to want to discuss the Reedville Menhaden Plant owned by Houston-based Omega Protein Corporation. They just simply shake their heads and, “They’re never gonna close that place.” Hmm.
The History of the Reedville Fish Plant
Captain Elijah W. Reed arrived in Reedville (of course not yet named that) from Maine in 1874 where Native American Indians had shown the white man how to use a small oily fish called Menhaden as fertilizer.
Reed then developed a method of extracting large quantities of oil from the fish by rendering them by the millions. The oil was then used as a lubricant or in lighting (as whale oil was) and the leftover carcasses and bones were buried for fertilizer.
Cut to today… the Omega Protein owned fish plant is second only to Dutch Harbor, Alaska for the amount of fish processed. They employ somewhere from 250 to 350 workers depending on the season, have 8 modern day fishing boats and 8 spotter aircraft.
Unusual Fishing Practices
Spotter aircraft circle the Chesapeake looking for the large schools of menhaden that swim near the surface. The fish cause disturbances on the water and once they are spotted, the planes radio the fleet who immediately rushes to the area to scoop up the large schools of fish.
The fish are later processed at the plant and used in everything from cat food to cosmetics to the popular Omega-3 fish oil pills many of us take for our health. It’s also added to feed for poultry — Tyson Foods is one of their biggest customers.
Reedville’s Omega Corporation
Reedville is quite the idyllic town with many of it’s gorgeous homes featured in the historic registry.
Omega is the largest employer in the area and is responsible for a reported $45 million dollars in annual economic benefits to the community. They employ hundreds of people and consider themselves part of the Chesapeake Bay “tradition.” And that’s where I scream BULLSHIT!
Back in 2006-2007, unemployment numbers in Reedville were 1.5% higher than the national average. However, Omega Corporation spent $770,000 to lobby congress to be able to hire foreign workers. Yes, 650 (nationwide) to be exact. They were awarded a judgment that enabled them to secure the H2B visas and did so with breakneck speed.
These types of visas are only supposed to awarded when “no local labor is available.” Seems like some local people could have used those jobs. Not to mention that Omega paid these foreign workers significantly less than their American counterparts.
Since 2002, OSHA (Occupation Safety and Health Administration) has cited Omega for a whopping 63 violations. One man was actually killed when he bled out after being caught in a machine. Very little information was ever provided to accident investigators or the family of the victim. The fine? $79,200. What did Omega pay? $50,000. I’m curious as to that $79,200 dollar assessment on a human life. Why the extra two-hundred bones? Why not an even 80k? But I digress…
In June 2013, Omega was assessed a 7.5-million-dollar fine for dumping ammonia and bacteria (from ship toilets. That’s a nice way of saying raw sewage and cyanide) into Cockrell Creek which feeds directly into the bay from 2008-2010.
Monty Deihl, General Manager of Omega Protein said, “It was not a good time for us here at the plant.” Huh? That is the equivalent of saying, “Uh…my bad.” And I can’t stand when someone says that.
The Importance of the Menhaden Fish
Menhaden are tiny bait fish that were once abundant up and down the Atlantic seaboard. They are filter feeders and have the ability to filter a volume of water equal to the entire Chesapeake Bay in less than one day with the potential annually to consume 25% of the nitrogen in the Bay. If you don’t know, nitrogen is not a friend to the bay.
The survival of everything from bluefish to humpback whales depends on the small, oily fish. Eagles, osprey and pelican also need the fish to survive.
In recent years, the menhaden population has declined by — are you sitting down — 90 PERCENT! 90 percent, people. You feel me? When you overfish the main fish that sustains the bay, you kill everything. When the rockfish, striped bass, bluefish and other species don’t have food, they die. Thus, THE BAY DIES!
One local fisherman/scientist did a study over a couple of years and dissected approximately 10,000 striped bass pulled from the lower Chesapeake Bay. The majority of those fish had ZERO body fat and empty stomachs. Their diet is predominantly menhaden.
The striped bass are starving to death right before our very eyes because Omega Protein Corporation takes a half a billion pounds of menhaden out of the Chesapeake Bay every single year. And they have for decades.
Recently there have been heated debates about putting restrictions on this plant and they’ve all been defeated due to the serious money the lobby throws at the Richmond, VA governing officials. And that is the real issue at hand here.
Do I think this place should be shut down completely? Yes. The real and inexcusable issue here is that Omega won’t even entertain the idea of placing a limit on their catch. They want unobstructed rights to every menhaden in the bay. That’s the crime.
Every other fishing and hunting activity has limits. You can’t kill all the deer you want. You can’t catch all the blue crab you want anymore. If everyone did that, there would be nothing left.
Remember the American Buffalo? Hunted nearly to extinction? The Gray Wolf? That’s what’s quietly happening in Reedville. Some people don’t have a problem with that and personally I think those people are uneducated, unenlightened assholes.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) along with the Coastal Conservation Association of Virginia are fighting hard to implement restrictions and save what’s left. I think they deserve support. If you live or sail or spend any time on the Chesapeake Bay, you need to get involved in this story.
I’m not anti-fisherman. I’m not anti-corporations (usually). But I am pro-environment and when you have spotter planes and massive ships that suck up every living thing in a huge net, you’re fucking up a place that is not yours to fuck with. What could possibly stand a chance?
The upper bay hasn’t seen a menhaden in years. They can’t make it past the gauntlet that is Reedville. Melody and I saw this firsthand on our trip up the bay. South of Reedville, the surface of the water was abuzz with schools of fish. Once we passed Reedville, nothing.
We saw nothing and we didn’t even realize it until we were sitting at a local watering hole in Solomons, Maryland, a scant 40 miles north of Reedville, and while talking about fishing with a local, the conversation turned to the lack of big fish in the upper bay and ultimately Reedville.
“Nothing survives to make up here any more,” he said. “It’s been devastating to the Bay. Rockfish are now starting to eat the blue crab and all sorts of crazy stuff is happening.”
So there… my soap box. You can read all about it via the links. Fire off some emails, donate some money, share the story or don’t do anything. If you happen to know someone in Reedville or in Richmond, feel free to send them the link to this blog. Everyone has a voice. Everyone has the power to effect change.
Sailors, boaters and travelers can also voice displeasure by not visiting Reedville, VA. Tourist dollars speak volumes and there are other places to go. Other places to anchor and buy fuel.
Maybe a lack of tourists will wake the people of the town up and they will start fighting for the Bay instead of for Omega. I’m sorry, but 250 jobs (not counting the foreign workers of course) does not quantify destroying the largest estuary on the planet. There is only one Chesapeake Bay.
Bypass Reedville and head for Deltaville. It’s nicer and the air doesn’t make you wanna vomit.
[…] days ago I posted a blog about the Omega Protein Menhaden plant in Reedville, VA. In those five days we’ve had […]
While I’m not at the coast, and instead stuck in Tennessee, I think about the affects people have on the oceans. This really shows the impact we have and it’s close to home. Most people would never think of it because it doesn’t affect them personally. This is good info. I haven’t heard of this fish before.
Daniel~ Where in Tennessee are you? It’s impossible to pay attention to every, little thing going on in the world and this subject showed up on our radar simply because we sailed right through it. Since we spend summers in this area, I feel personal connection with this place. People have such an impact on the environment (good and bad) and I just think most don’t see what’s happening. We (humans) leave a very large foot print. We make trash and search for convenience in every facet of life now. Sometimes taking the right measures to minimize that isn’t the easiest but it is worth it. Just my .02. Thanks for reading along and for taking the time to comment. We appreciate it very much.
I’m an hour North of Nashville in Clarksville due to the military. My boat is farther up into KY at Lake Barkley / Kentucky Lake.
Very true about the impact we are having. Most won’t see what is happening because they live in their little bubble and things like this doesn’t have a direct impact on them so they end up not caring about it.
Colston Newton says
I’ve spent to many days of my life refuting erroneous assertions regarding Reedville’s menhaden industry to want to get into another tussle. I’ll make thee points about where I see the writer has erred:
1.) Menhaden are not “tiny” fish, only the juvenile that Omega doesn’t fish for are.
2.) Menhaden are not the sort of filter feeder that helps clean the Bay. They eat zooplankton, tiny animals, not Phytoplankton, tiny plants. The result is that the menhaden, via excretion, hurry the zooplankton’s remains into the Bay and thus add to its pollution problems.
3.) The ASMFC’s assessments prior to 2012 have been thrown out by its own scientists as entirely unreliable. A new assessment using a hopefully reliable model is being conducted.
Clinton Steel says
Each is entitled to their own opinion.
Omega employs many workers across the nation. (Reedville, VA is simply the founding location. There are multiple fleet locations along the Gulf.)
Menhaden is used as animal feed, fertilizer, and human supplements. At the Omega plant, each part of each fish is used.
There are set catch limits enforced, and not a lot of by-catch due to the type of netting Omega uses. Omega is required to follow these restrictions and has employed many new staff members to monitor each vessel’s compliance as well as each company plant.
Someone mentioned farming: menhaden supplements feed for many Salmon farms.
There are USCG, OSHA, USEPA, and many other regulations followed by each Omega location. There are limits to where the government allows the fishing boats, including restriction to the bay in Virginia or coastal waters in the Gulf. Fleet vessels must stay within the boundaries set by the government and permits.
Catch restrictions are followed. Omega is not the only fishing fleet. Many other species are requiring restrictions.
The amount of any species caught is increasing due to population of humans as well as other influences. More humans, more consumption of all foods and supplements. This affects vegetation, animals and fish (to name a few).
The Reedville plant is very active in the community and many team members donate their time to help others. In rural communities, each person can make a difference.
As for Visa workers: many of those unemployed US workers would be employed if they would be willing to do the smelly, dirty, difficult work involved. However, they do not. Therefore, many US businesses (not just Omega) must go outside of the US to hire; the non-US would rather perform whatever work they can to feed their family. Many unemployed US people would rather collect from the government. I have seen that in many industries. Why do you think so many immigrate? They are willing to do the yucky work just to feed their family!
As for smelly fish: what dead fish does not smell? If you live in a fishing area or fish processing, it is going to smell like fish! If you live near a pig farm, it will smell like pig feces. If you live near a dairy, it will smell like cow feces. That is all due to the place you choose to live.
I cannot claim anything on dollars spent lobbying since I have not heard about Omega doing so…however, that is the government at fault if they accept money to look another way! It is big business that runs our government, and an entirely different subject than a smelly fish oil processing plant.
Not all information in the original opinion is true, so readers: please research facts prior to deciding your opinion. And, remember, not only is this blog based on OPINION, but there are others out there as well. Whether you agree with any portion, is your choice, but at least make it fair.
What BS. On most of your points – but in particular, the ubiquitous party line that no Americans want to do what low wage foreigners will eagarly perform is sheer nonsense. This lie is perpetuated over and over again across US cities – from Nantucket to Va Beach and beyond. Let’s be clear : Americans don’t want to perform work for $3/hr and no benefits. However foreigners think $3/hr is real income will eagerly come to the US to get work and the possibility of status. Beach towns for decades hired college students during the summer season. But now American kids are no where to be found. Jobs are now being filled by so-called “exchange students” from other countries under the auspices that college students no longer want to work at pubs and bars on the beach, of all things…Really?! What changed? A collective agreement between local businesses, politicians and Chambers to get cheap labor for a contractual period of time.
More concerning beyond the fact that most jobs are not going to locals is the fact that over 50% of Omega Protein’s product is shipped to China. Yes, we are destroying a great estuary for the sake of foreign workers and Chinese consumers! Idiots like these are nothing more than mouth pieces for the bureaucrats who profit at the expense of US jobs, a dying fish species and the health of the Bay.
Sir… I don’t know that it could be said any better.
A fair appraisal of the matter, especially the observation that the air smells where YOU choose to live. Fish, pigs, cattle, paper mills, airports, the odor is money to the community and a subject for outside criticism.
Frank Moore says
The writer of this is correct in everything he has written. Trying to discredit this is fueled by personal interest and is noble no matter how misguided.
Attention to this has reached the right place.
Sean Finn says
Reedville is also at the junction of the Potomac River into the Bay, and marks the boundary between primarily salt to primarily freshwater. Couldn’t this also explain why North of Reedville, i.e. where the water is more freshwater, the population of saltwater fish drops considerably?
It certainly could explain some of the fish not being present in the upper Bay, and we did consider that, but the fact is, the menhaden are still being over-fished by incomprehensible numbers, and all of the fish that need the menhaden for their diet are suffering, and several fishermen we talked to seem to be suffering the effects of this one company’s abuse.
Y’all are just a bunch of city slickers who try and give us a bad name. Yall don’t know a thing about hunting or fishing
Dear Nonofyabuisness, city slickers… maybe but you need no help with getting a bad name. You’re doing a fine job of it all by yourselves. Just read some of the comments posted by your fellow citizens.
You think you know every thing about this area, and evedentily you don’t. Like the guy above said you and all the other defenders of menhaden are most likey from big cities and don’t realize what is acually going on around here. And don’t you dare disrespect Monty deihl because he has worked hard all his life and so have all the other fellow fisherman. So please keep your big city mouth shut and keep it that way. And I’m sure all of our fellow “citizens ” would agree with me.
I personally disagree with this story. There are regulations already in place and have been for some time now. My husband is a commercial fisherman. There are plenty of fish in the bay. Not only do we have commercial fishing but sports fishermen and everyone catches what they want to catch. If you want to question about the smell, the goings on around here then ask a local. The fisherman that are following family tradition. There was plenty for them as well as plenty for everyone else. No actually facts could be explained in the meeting from OSHA. Just speculation!!!!!! Ask people that know whats going before you pass judgment. That’s all I ask
Live on the lower shore for over 50 years and the impact is real [along with pound nets] fishermen notice the decline. We are not city slickers but concerned, and you my friend are ignorant of reality.
We are fighting pound nets now, and a friend suggested add 1 or 2 dollars to the Va fishing licence fee to supplement watermen for lost revenue if they use environmentally friendly methods in their occupation.
After the past 2 weeks off the savage neck area on the eastern shore, fish are gone or on the beach, no match for spotter planes and a fleet of 4 large ships.
I am not a city slicker. I come from generations of fishing. It is decimating and greedy style of fishing- pure and simple.
“Overfished: Based on the current reference point to evaluate stock condition (fecundity, or FEC), Atlantic menhaden are not considered overfished.”
The coast-wide Atlantic menhaden stock is experiencing overfishing. This is based on the 2010 Atlantic menhaden stock assessment. Addendum V of Amendment 1 established a new fishing mortality (F) target and threshold, based on maximum spawning potential (MSP) of 15% and 30% respectively. Amendment 2 established new MSP based reference points for spawning stock biomass (SSB) based on MSP of 15% for the target and 30% for the threshold. It could not be determined if the stock was overfished after evaluating the new SSB reference points. The stock is now listed as Concern. No matter how you cut the pie, there’s still not enough left due to over-fishing.
Reedville is not the junction of fresh and salt water. The actual place where the brackish water is considered fresh water is the Rt. 301 bridge over the Potomac River. This is about 35 miles from the mouth of the Potomac River. I have seen dolphins in the Potomac River as far as Piney Point (about 10 miles from the mouth of the Potomac River on the MD side).
I worked on a charter boat in the early 1990s. The fishing in the Bay was declining then. Funny thing, you would be out fishing an area and then the bunker boats show up and the fish stop biting and they stop showing up on the fish finder.
Bluefish use to be caught up in the northern stretches of the Bay. They also use to show up off of Colonial Beach, VA (30 miles from the mouth of the Potomac River). The fishing in the Middle Grounds near the Target Ships was once an amazing area and a lot of citation size bluefish were caught in that area. It is really rare to catch the large bluefish in that area anymore.
I have grown up in the Chesapeake Bay Region. It is an amazing place to sail, fish, cruise, or live. The area needs to be protected and limits need to be put in place and enforced.
William Downer says
You are correct…..
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment William.
Dville resident says
The bay is salt water all the way to the Atlantic Ocean north and south.
Angry Reader says
It sounds like you have done your research on Reedville using the free magazines outside of Food Lion.
You have severely insulted fisherman by saying they are uneducated. My husband no longer gets upset by these rantings such as your. He realizes that it is the author that is uneducated. But no one can blame you for that. Without growing up near Reedville, you would not know that these are not new issues. They have been years and years in the making from many opposing sides.
Please consider coming back to Reedville and instead of using old newspaper articles and environmental bloggers turned haters, pull your boat up to any Carolina skiff or wood boat. They would love to tell you about the fish factory, their heritage, and the state of the Bay. They would also tell you how their fathers and grandfathers taught them to fish. Fish oil runs deep in their blood.
To discourage others from coming to Reedville and enjoying a piece of history is a real shame. I’m sorry that your experience was so bad. Please come back and talk to real people here. I think you’ll change your mind once you get the real scoop. And try a real crab cake while your here!
Hi Angry Reader,
First let me say thank you for reading and posting a comment. My facts come from Business Week.com, OSHA.gov (US Department of Labor) and several other reputable publications, many with links directly to the article. Maybe you should revisit the blog and read it again.
While I think you misinterpreted my “uneducated” comment, I appreciate your point of view. What I said was, “Every other fishing and hunting activity has limits. You can’t kill all the deer you want. You can’t catch all the blue crab you want anymore. If everyone did that, there would be nothing left. Remember the American buffalo? Hunted nearly to extinction. The gray wolf? … Some people don’t have a problem with that and personally I think those people are uneducated, unenlightened assholes.” What I’m referring to is the mindset that one can over-fish, over-kill, over-dump and over use all they want without regard for the rest of us. Nowhere did I mention fisherman being uneducated. Your assumption is flat out wrong. If you happen to know fishermen who subscribe to that “rape the land” philosophy, then yes I stand by my assessment of them being uneducated, unenlightened assholes. As I’ve stated above, I got my information from what I consider to be valid sources and not “…environmental bloggers turned haters” as you put it.
I know these debates are not new to the area but I think they warrant the attention to remain front and center. As I said in my piece, I’m not anti-fisherman. I appreciate the heritage and the history that goes along with the area and understand fully the economic effect this plant has on the local economy. That does not give them permission to dump raw sewage and cyanide into the bay along with countless other violations. Wouldn’t you agree? I appreciate the invite back to your town and I would love to speak to some “real people”, maybe one or two that aren’t economically benefiting from the plant? I think Reedville is a nice little town that has great potential to be a great stop-over while one travels the bay… unfortunately the plant sours my opinion… and your air. I’m sorry. Thank you again for your opinion.
Steve Quigley says
Thank you for your Article
Charles R. Lawson says
I have disagreed for years with much of the so-called science involved in the Atlantic Fisheries Commission’s assessments of the Bay’s natural resources. Much of the statistics have been deemed questionable due to “assumptions” made about the menhaden population over time. Assumptions are never found at the core of any respectable scientific data. That being said, a level of logical stewardship should always be in place in regards to our fragile ecosystem. Sadly, the AFC isn’t creating any regulation regarding the effluent flow from some of the largest cities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed nor is it researching the major impact of pesticides from farm runoff or the impacts of population density growth on the dwindling aquifer (AKA “come-heres” and their grandiose subdivision plans). Ecological conservation is a multifaceted effort. Not one problem can be left out of the discussion, and yours focuses on only one issue–like many of the “conservationists” seem to do.
Years ago when I was sitting on the water and sewer board for the Town of Kilmarnock, we discussed a plan by the cities bordering the Bay to create a system of trading/selling the nitrate tonnage allowed in effluent water–a system rife with chances for graft and corruption. When I see a good solution that takes everything into consideration (other possible causes in population decreases, ways to save the fledgling Neck economy, ways to increase employment in the Neck to offset the loss of the plant, ways to somehow maintain the quality of living here) then I will be enthusiastic to support it. On the other hand, when I see more of the typical name-calling, city-dwelling superiority claptrap shown above, I will continue to disregard it as the ramblings of someone who doesn’t have all the facts. I personally enjoy the “maybe one or two who aren’t economically benefitting from the plant…” portion of the comment above. If you can find someone living in the Northern Neck who isn’t benefitting from the plant in some form it would be a rarity for sure.
When the two largest employers in the Northern Neck are Omega and local county governments…then there’s perhaps another problem worthy of a “journalistic approach” like you claim to have used above.
I agree that the Md/Va line that is the mouth of the Potomac River does not have a great enough salination difference to affect fish migration. I am relatively young but am a Northumberland native, and I recall through my life great differences in our Chesapeake Bay. As with any major corporation you will always see them grasp for as much as they can get. There HAVE been restrictions placed upon them though. They HAVE spent billions cleaning up their own messes, helping local organizations clean up creek bottoms and shores. Are they a perfect company? Absolutely not. Let’s not forget that they are not based here in Reedville, but instead in Texas. They lose sight of us from time to time, and it always bites them in the butt. That is a fight we locals maintain.
Now back to the fish, has anyone in this forum heard of Red Tide? It is an algal bloom (red in color) that can be very small to extremely large depending upon the source that it is feeding from. It is a known problem for many fishermen, both commercial and recreational, and it seems to be an issue that arises after the rainiest parts of the year. These blooms are disastrous to the fragile Potomac ecosystem. As the slow flow of water from far north of DC pushes along gathering whatever it might pick up, it becomes polluted quite quickly. These blooms feed upon these pollutants, ultimately in am attempt to eradicate them, sucking up the oxygen and nutrients that sea life requires in order to survive.
I invite you to continue your efforts to save the bay, and in doing so, look north. Look to the thriving metropolis that poisons our waters everyday.
You claim that Omega has been extracting 1/2 a billion pounds every year for decades.If that hasn’t changed and they have had fish to catch thus far, what has? Should Omega pull back their efforts and create a more sustainable way to fish? Maybe. Why stop there though, shouldn’t any legislation requiring them to do so require others harming the same stock of sea life be held accountable as well?
Hi Greg~ First let me say thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. I have been getting tons of push back on my recent post and I think that’s a good thing. I tend to agree with your points about all the companies benefiting from the Chesapeake bay being held to standards to help conserve and possibly reverse the negative effects. The pollution coming from DC and Baltimore is most definitely an issue. I wrote about Reedville and the violations concerning the Omega plant specifically. I’m not a scientist nor am I versed on the greater eco system that is the Bay. I did my research and wrote a “broad brush” editorial from my point of view based on the published facts. In summary, I think the world is far too educated to claim ignorance on any matter anymore whether it be health related or environmental. “We” know what we’re doing to our bodies, our water, our air… whatever it may be. It’s inexcusable to abuse and deplete a resource just because we can. Again… this is my opinion and I’m in agreement with much of what you say. I appreciate the dialogue.
Patrick Nannery says
Ok..I’m on the fence here..I grew up pulling 100 crab pots a day on the Rappahannock River as a kid..I now live in VaBeach..I feel where your coming from..Yes the plant has been there as long as I remember..hell I remember joking when we would go there to get boat parts,bait, ect that even a blind man could find his way to Reedville..ok on to my point..#1 the unemployment rate in Reedville…problem being with that one is (and remember I grew up in the NorthernNeck) there are alot of lazy people there, just like everywhere in the US that DON’T wanna work and will rather collect welfare and EBT..sad but true! #2 Why do you say boycott Reedville..to take away their tourist money..WTF??? So you wanna punish the whole town..Those people are in a economically challenged area to begin with! #3 I agree they have overfished..WAY OVERFISHED! And regulations need to be put in place, just like was done for rockfish years ago and they made an amazing comeback…so I say regulate the amount the fleet can harvest for the plant..DO NOT BOYCOTT the town of Reedville, they need every tourist dollar they can get.(.dont punish the masses for the actions of a few..kinda like gun control) So what Im sayn is I agree what is happening needs to stop, but you suggested path of action will serve in wiping yet another small NorthernNeck of Va. fishing community off the map.
Hey Patrick~ Thanks so much for your input. I understand the heritage and history that the fisherman have with the Chesapeake. I agree with all of your points. Every one. Even where you ask, “Why boycott Reedville when so many need every dollar they can get.” I know everyone is hurting these days as global markets shift and change. Many, many people are hurting and out of work and I don’t think that’s a good thing. The reason I say don’t go to Reedville is because the PEOPLE of Reedville are the only ones who can affect change through their local representatives. If people don’t go to Reedville to express their dissatisfaction that the Omega plant won’t play by the “rules”, then maybe the people of Reedville will pressure whomever they need to pressure to get Omega to fall in line. That’s how it works around the world. When an abuse takes place and governments won’t act because pockets are being lined, then social pressures must take up that slack. I think Reedville is a nice place. I love the refurbished smoke stack and I like the anchorage. I just think Reedville needs to think about the future Reedville. If the bait fish leave the bay, what does Reedville have then? An abandoned fish plant… ‘Cause don’t think Omega won’t abandon the joint when profits fall below what’s “acceptable.” But this is just my opinion. Thanks for reading.
Nancy Vineyard says
This is the best response to this issue that I have read so far. We have been boating and fishing the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay for over 40 years. We have experienced all of the changes and declines in fish and crabs. Boycotting Reedville is not the answer to this issue. Reedville is a beautiful town and so is the whole Northern Neck. Limitations is the answer and it has worked in all other areas.
C. Ryan says
On points one and two, I fully agree with you, point three I don’t know enough to talk about. I work for a local electrical contractor as his only helper/apprentice, he could have more people on payroll but he can’t find anyone who wants anything more than a paycheck out of the job. From watching other contractors that use immigrant labor we’ve seen that they are willing to work harder than the some of the local labor pool is. Also as a note to the author, the Omega plant is located in Fleeton, not Reedville. Yes the lines between the two communities are blurred, but there is a difference.
It’s not that people can’t find folks who are “willing” to do the job… it’s that they can’t find folks willing to do the job for the shitty pay they want to offer. Employers are trying to make greater profits by squeezing pay and a steady flow of people for whom $25K a year is a king’s ransom enables them to do so. The rest of us realize that this isn’t enough to support ourselves on today.
The real problem comes in a generation or two once those folks also realize that there are better jobs available and are no longer exploitable. Industries like agriculture, food service and sanitation have been creating a Ponzi bubble that requires unsustainable immigration levels to be able to continue to hold wages down.
Years ago, my husband ran his own carpet installation business. He had such difficulty finding a helper to work with him, that he often had to install jobs by himself. That included moving furniture and carrying heavy carpet by himself. (That led to an unrecoverable injury, but that is not the story here.)
He had such difficulty, that he finally went to the local employment office to offer work. He would have someone assigned to him and they would go to work. The person started would be paid an hourly rate. The work included hammering nails, picking up scraps, carrying tools and carpet, cutting the removed carpet into strips, and a lot of miscellaneous running around the job sight.
Often, he would be lucky if he kept someone an entire week. They expected to make the money that my husband made rather than the amount they made. If they stuck around long enough, they could be trained well enough to do so. (He only had two that stuck around over two years to be considered installers themselves; each of them have earned enough to have big homes, nice vehicles for work and personal, and send their kids to private schools.)
The point of this is that there are not many willing to put forth the effort and really work toward a goal. They often expect things just handed to them rather than have to work for it. That is why businesses often outsource work –even if it means foreigners with work visas. They are happy to do any type of work for pay.
I would much rather see the homeless performing the work in order to help themselves work toward having a home. But, that means you have to work toward that goal; not expect it to be just handed over to you. As they say, “someone has to do the dirty work.”
ray charnock says
this is bullshit
It is Bullshit Ray. I whole-heartedly agree.
Your article is way out of balance! I agree with some of it but I totally disagree with not visiting Reedville. How would not visiting Reedville put any strain on Omega Protein? Not visiting would only hurt the local businesses that have NO connection with Omega Protein, especially in a time when everyone needs every penny they can put in their pockets.
Rock Fish have always eaten crabs and just about anything else they can get their mouths on!
The man killed in the factory accident was not killed in Virginia.
State record for Blue Fish was caught in the upper Potomac in 2012 so obviously they are getting past the Omega Protein plant.
There is a limit on what they can catch.
Before you try to hurt a local economy by boycotting it please do more research, I see where you stated you got your information from another article. Gossip has a way of twisting facts!
Nelson… as with everyone who’s taken time to comment, I say thanks. My article was an assembly of many, many articles that I read on the topic. I read a lot of different view points including Mr. Deihl’s comments and I’ve stated in several other places that I’m not anti-fishing or anti-fisherman. I’m not a radical environmentalist nor do I wish Reedville any ill will. That said, the citizens of Reedville are the only one’s who can affect legislation through their representatives and if people do not go to Reedville because they support catch limits (which you say they have and others say they don’t adhere to) then so be it. The citizens of Reedville will either affect such a change or fall victim to the economic consequences. What can I tell you. Many, many cities on the bay have strong economies due to tourism and boat traffic. Reedville’s harbor is a prime spot. The town homes are on the historic registry and many folks like to stop there, when the wind is from the right direction. I’m not trying to “hurt” anyone’s economy. I did not quote gossip and with all due respect sir, you should read some of the articles I got my information from. There are hundreds of articles on the Omega plant and their violations and abuses. But thank you for your time.
Charles R. Lawson says
Interesting….that the original author didn’t disagree with your comments negating several of his major points. A good editorialist is willing to admit he’s wrong when proven so.
The Reedville Bluefish Derby, which always brings in record-breaking fish (which according to the author don’t exist in the area) must be the area’s longest-running lie.
The reedville bluefish derby went rockfish only in 2012, thanks to lack of sizeable bluefish, and in 2014 it was cancelled altogether. Want to guess why? Just maybe it is because Omega has sucked all the bait out of the bay. Omega should be shut down forever and its owners required to forfeit their assets to the public.
Let me start by saying thank you for drawing attention to the Chesapeake Bay and it’s tributaries. It should always be treasured and protected.
Now… I was very interested in your article and ready to share with others… Until you listed rockfish and striped bass as two separate species. That’s a little embarrassing and immediately discredits you. You may have wanted to become more “educated” on that.
While any plant dumping any material into the Bay is hazardous, and overfishing is a real problem, I don’t think it’s fair to discount Reedville altogether because of these shortcomings. There is overfishing of menhaden all throughout the Bay. Also, did you do any further research on why the fish populations have been declining? Over abundance of catfish? Mycobacteriosis?
Point is, I think you should become more educated in a matter, saying yourself, “I don’t know if I have the patience to sift through all the misinformation.” And I think you owe Reedville a huge apology!
JuneBug~ thanks for taking the time to respond. I find it interesting that you found my piece interesting until I listed rockfish and striped bass as separate species. “Embarrassing and immediately discredits me?” Discredits me as what? I’m not a scientist. I merely was interested in what was happening to a species of fish that supports many other species across the bay. I’m no scientist. I did read other research regarding the menhaden and some it states water temperature fluctuations, pollution and other sources at the cause of declining fish populations. The truth is, the Omega plant has had many, many violations that deserve examination. You can discredit me all you want. That doesn’t change the facts. I owe Reedville nothing. I’ve been there, spent money on fuel and food. I would love to return since I think it’s an awesome little town and I’ve said that in my post.
I love that someone finally put this out to the public. I have fished in the Bay for years and have seen its decline do to lack of food in the water. But lets not just talk about the menhaden lets look at the bi catch (non targeted fish) that these menhaden boats catch. What happens to them I can tell you they die. I have been on the bay when they pull the nets and the dead fish just float by. Its a disgrace that we let people do this. But they have a lot of power and most of the men making the decisions are former watermen. I agree they need to be able to make a living but make them play by the rules.
Hi John~ I know many other fish get caught up in the nets and the non-tarketed fish are just as important to the bay. Thanks for making that point. They do have a lot of power and that’s not the bad thing. What people keep missing in my post is that, like you, I say they need to make a living but play by the rules. That’s exactly right. You, too, have a lot of power. This blog post has been shared on Facebook and Twitter over 1200 times and we’ve had over 5,000 visits to read this blog since we posted. There are many, many stories online about this plant. I simply researched and paraphrased some important things I found and added my .02. I’ve been getting tons of push back and mean spirited comments but that’s to be expected I guess. Truth is, I don’t live in Reedville. It’s not my town’s legacy to worry about. I just liked visiting there and thought it was a cool place. Then I asked some questions about the plant and found all that crap online about the over-fishing and the dumping into the bay… Seemed like an obvious question to me. Thanks for reading and for commenting.
Question, if they are harvesting 1/2 a billion pounds a year and the population has decline 90 percent, where is the 1/2 billion pounds coming from every year? And they keep getting it every year, year after year. I say Bullshit.
Okay Matt… Call bullshit. If I were to venture a guess, I’d say you fished for Omega. But let’s back up. Bullshit on the over-fishing? Ok… let’s say you’re right about that. What about dumping raw sewage into Cockrell Creek? What about the Cyanide that was dumped as well? Do you think a company pays a 7.5 million dollar fine for Bullshit, Matt? What about the foreign workers? Where’s the rally cry for the local watermen? Unemployment in Reedville was 1.5% above the national average when the plant got (paid lobbyists 700 grand) H2B visas to allow them to hire and underpay foreign workers… Bullshit?
Let me say this Matt… first, thanks for taking the time to post. Second… re-read the blog and click some of the links and read that information. And then, think about this… When that plant no longer becomes profitable, they’re gonna close it and Reedville will be shit. They don’t give a rats ass about the local watermen in Reedville. When the menhaden go… you’ll have an abandoned factory and polluted water. Good luck friend.
Charles R. Lawson says
I’ve still never seen the “cyanide” tanks at Omega. I’m wondering where it all came from, since I can’t find the first indication that what they were dumping into the creek was anything more than bilge cleaner (containing ammonia), fish waste, and the small amount of sewage that a work boat carries.
Matt- Economics 101: Omega is harvesting an annual volume to meet demand, not all they can catch. If supply exceeds demand, a price drop means the business becomes unprofitable. The plant at Reidsville has operational limits. Management will try to operate the plant at maximum efficiency without over-producing. Rotting fish sitting on a boat with no processing capacity means fish dumped back in the Bay and a profit loss. Maybe 1/2-billion annual catch is the optimum processing capacity or marketing opportunity for Reedville. The question is what % of the total biomass does 1/2-billion represent today versus in 1980.
Thanks for shedding light on something I care about. I watched a lengthy video on you tube several months ago about that book “Menhaden the most important fish in the sea”. Great video in my opinion. I am 56 years old now and while not ready for the grave yet, as a father and grandfather I am concerned about what my generation is leaving for the ones to follow. 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. Think of the jobs and opportunity it would create for the people there if Reedville returned to being a Mecca for sport fishing and a variety of other water related activities. Like an above mentioned post said about a long heritage of fishermen, crabbers and oystermen I can understand the pride in that. I don’t see that pride being passed down from people selling out to a company using airplanes to spot and round up fish. Oh, and by the way I live in the Northern Neck and prior to that for over twenty years I lived right across the Potomac in St Marys Country Md , another area where the watermen are starving as a result of Omega, pollution and a variety of other factors. We humans are to this planet what cancer is to us humans.
Thank you Tim. I agree with everything you say. Reedville as a sport fishing mecca with a great anchorage makes so much more sense then the Chesapeake Bay equivalent to Love Canal. I’ve seen the book of the same title and in fact we link to the book on Amazon at the bottom of the blog courtesy of another reader. I will be reading that this summer. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to post a comment.
William J Earley says
We are all in the same boat when it comes to saving the bay. Continuing to hammer the menhaden stock will tip the balance and kill the bay of life as we know it. No fish, no birds no animals. Close the plant and buy everyone out. The owners, workers, fishing trawlers and even the shareholders. This would be a wise investment. This will secure a future for the thousands of commercial fishermen. If the menhaden collapse, then the game is over. We are all responsible for the health of the bay.
Brilliant point of view William. I could not agree with you more. I hope you find more supporters for that frame of mind. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Blame it on the waterman, every sport fisherman and ” come here” do! Why don’t you tell all sides, runoff, pollution, lack of oxygen, sewage plants overflowing in heavy rains, chemicals un licensed people are putting on yards that was into the bay, and all the big summer houses being built on every little inch of open space. Fishing has been around long before all the other environmental factors that are here now. I would be pleased if you just boycotted the Chesapeake bay all together.
Edward~ NO WHERE in my piece did I blame the watermen. Get your facts straight. What I’m amazed at is how you supposedly have read the piece and then misquote or add shit I’ve never said. You all are taking aim at me when I’m not polluting the bay. I’m spending money in towns up and town the Chesapeake. It’s really amazing. I hope it all works out for you Ed. Time will tell.
To your points: Runoff, pollution, lack of oxygen, sewage plants and over development are all to blame for the negative effects on the bay. Fishing has been around long before, you’re right… OVER FISHING and dumping has always been a problem and should never be excused. I don’t know what part of that you folks can’t get your head around.
First, it is important to get a few more facts. There is a cap on the menhaden catch, it presently sits at 20% less than the peak year. People lost their jobs due to this action. After that action was taken it was found that there was a slight error in the information used by the legislators that implied that the species was “overfished” when in fact, the term was supposed to be “overfishing” which meant that the action could be happening, not a conclusive statement. Loss of jobs connected to the fish factory has a ripple effect throughout the community. In addition, Reedville and other villages in the county ARE meccas for charter fishing.
Here is a BIG often overlooked fact! Menhaden do NOT breed in the bay. They breed out in the Atlantic, not a lot is known about their breeding habits but a lot is known about their schooling habits. The fish spotters and watermen know much more about this than I do so I hope some of them respond to this. However, I can remember going out on the menhaden boats as a teenager and seeing the schools whip and seeing the men in the purse boats surround them and haul them aboard. I remember seeing charts back then (in the 1970’s) where bycatch had to be reported. I also remember that there was very little in the hold that wasn’t bunker. In fact, records show that since the menhaden school so tightly there is little bycatch. You state that the boats vacuum up everything- I think I know which CBF blogger you got that from (Pelton) and while I do agree with many things he writes he never did get the stuff about menhaden correct. The netted fish are vacuumed aboard, the boats DO NOT go out and just vacuum up the bay.
To address the comment about nitrogen in the bay- here is the process explained as clearly and briefly as possible. Nutrients (like nitrogen) enter the bay via run-off- sewage or agriculture. These nutrients do not come in a constant stream but in big loads usually due to time of year (agriculture) or due to storms or accidents (sewage). When excess nutrients get into the bay algae that already lives in the bay reproduces A LOT using the nutrients until the nutrients are used up. Then the algae dies. The problem comes next, the algae dies and decomposes. It is during this decomposition phase that bacteria and fungi “eat up” the dead algae- as they “eat up” the algae they use the dissolved oxygen in the water creating a dead zone. This happens more in the summer because the warmer water is, the less oxygen it can hold!
On the subject of rockfish- sorry but the lack of knowledge of the name is a problem, it does speak to credibility. Also in the 1980’s there was a moratorium on catching rockfish. This debacle was designed to save a species that was “on the brink”. It was the last time (I hope) that laws were created without input from watermen. See, the law was a really tough one and nobody dared catch or keep one of those fish because of the penalties. But here is what happened- the crab population dropped off to nothing! Why, because the food that rockfish like is baby blue crab. The rockfish are not diverting their appetites to the blue crab due to lack of menhaden but that is their food anyway.
OK, here is a big chunk to chew on… Suppose we stop catching these forage feeders, supposed their numbers go up and they filter feed just like you say. Biomass will go up, right? Well, if an animal eats something, what next? Well, let’s be delicate here- it poops! That adds nutrients back into the water. What is going to take up THAT excess? Interaction among species (including humans) is complex and managing those complexities is challenging work. I can see many sides of this argument. You seem to think that those who fish want to “catch them all” and be done with it. I can assure you that anyone who fishes loves it and wants there to be plenty of fish and crabs and oysters next year. I am from Reedville and continue to live in the area and YES, I have a job.
Marilou~ That’s a lot to chew on and I’m not going to respond to all of it. I will say, I did not say they “vacuum up all the fish” anywhere in my piece. Read it again. Secondly… I know menhaden breed in the Atlantic. But when 2/3 of adult menhaden are caught, many before spawning and most before spawning a second time, it’s a problem. As for the Rockfish / Striped Bass terminology… Discredit me all you like. I am not the issue and the facts don’t change. There are limits on everything, Marilou… everything. Your “Poop” / Biomass argument is interesting but (and I’m not a scientist so I could “discredit” myself here) I would think run-off from golf courses, parking lots and fertilizers will have a much greater affect on the Bay than fish poop. But that’s just me.
You did hit on a key issue and I am not sure you meant to- that is the issue of limits. That fish factory has been the whipping boy for environmentalists for decades. When I was little we kids would sit on a dock and see the stuff from the factory roll in – air and water. Then watch what remnants of what everyone had for supper get flushed straight into the creek! No sewage system for Reedville until the end of the 1970’s! Since then the stacks at the factory have been raised, scrubbers installed, and OSHA even shut the whole thing (Ampro, Fairport side) down for a whole year! But- here is the unexplainable- WHY??? were there ample fish, oysters, and crabs available during those times? Yes, there were years where the harvest of the above mentioned was down but that is usual as populations undergo cyclical changes due to environmental pressures- yes, fishing does put pressure on the menhaden.
Here is the issue NO ONE discusses! Where are the bay grasses/submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV)? These are NOT marsh grasses that live with their roots in water but grasses like eel and wigeon grass that live entirely underwater. Many pople do not know that they are almost completely gone! The decimation of this population is not recognized (by most) for the tragedy it is. There are three big patches of SAV that survive. One is at Bishop’s Head and is monitored by Horn Point Lab (University of Maryland). The other two exist around Smith Island, MD and Tangier Island, VA. The watermen there contend that the grasses have survived BECAUSE they fish them regularly. They “scrape” the beds using a device similar to an oyster dredge but it doesn’t have the teeth a dredge has. It is designed to harvest crabs from these grass beds. The watermen claim that by “working” the grass beds in this manner they are able to keep them free of sediment which shades out sunlight.
Development of watershed- not just the coastal areas, contributes to this excess sedimentation and loss of grass beds. Grass beds are a keystone species for the bay. They pump oxygen into the water and provide nursery space for young animals and cover for adults. There have been initiatives to try to replant these grasses but these have met with limited success. Restoration of bay grasses will go a long way toward bay restoration as these grass beds will increase the carrying capacity of the bay.
Here is the problem, no body SEES this loss. It doesn’t affect property values. In fact, we used to look at these grasses as a problem, they would get wound up in your propeller way before you grounded your boat on shore. Please rethink your ideas about the menhaden and the processing plant. If you want to really make a difference find a way to help restore the grasses. Or better yet- find out about the decisions that are currently being made to allow hydraulic fracture drilling (fracking) in the coastal plain- King George (and in the Potomac River), King and Queen, and Caroline counties!
Marilou~ Thank you so much for actually coming back and responding again. I was unaware of the SAV issue. I can’t speak to it but I can say that the bay is under assault from all kinds of environmental pressures that may never have been an issue in the past. Over development, runoff, etc…
My point is the blog post that many are over looking was not that fishing needs to stop. It needs to be subject to limits (AND ADHERED TO) that other entities have on them.
To your point: I don’t know anything about the sea grass issue. I know of the negative effects of fracking for natural gas but those issues do not and should not deflect attention from Omega. Until Omega plays by the rules it should be under the magnifying glass. To all those who make a living from Omega, I say, “YOU should be the ones spear heading this as YOUR lively hood depends upon them.” Thanks again.
Scott Mayberry says
I agree with almost everything you have attempted to say about the Omega Plant and situation in Reedville. I think you are hurting your own cause when you try to emphasize your points using expletives which only turns me rand many others away. The fact that your general tone and use of expletives paints your point of view in a very negative and ugly color. There are still lots of people, especially in Virginia, that try to maintain a common sense of civility and decency, even against the overwhelming tide of filth and degeneracy commonly seen today. Today many believe such customs are old fashioned, but any others continue to believe the old fashioned values never went out of style. If you really want to make a difference I would suggest you think about this “critique” before you publish words many consider the vernacular of the vile and uneducated.
Thank you Scott. I’m going to hang my hat on your very first sentence. My tone is “ugly and negative” because the situation is quite ugly and negative. Frankly I think your (Reedville’s) “civility and decency” hasn’t worked a bit. Maybe you guys should try getting a little pissed off. It just might change something. Contrary to what you may believe, I have no problem with “old fashioned” values. As to your critique Mr. Mayberry: You choose your voice and I’ll choose to write my blog in my voice. For someone to disregard a message simply because of the manner in which it was expressed is by my account, flawed thinking. With that; Communication no matter how heated or how terse is, at least… communication. Thank you for your time. I really hope things turn out well for your town sir.
Actually, those at Omega are doing a lot to keep their corporate footprint on the bay to a minimum. They actually ARE under a very real microscope. The fracking issue is very important to issues of water quality- and that IS what you are concerned about, I believe.
Primer on the stratigraphy of the coastal plain of Virginia- includes the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and Hampton Roads and the Potomac, Rappahannock, James (from east of Richmond), and the York Rivers. The land is on layers of unconsolidated sediment- not rock- this is basically either layers of sand or clay. Clay layers confine the sand layers. The sand layers hold the groundwater- they are aquifers. The deep massive layers , like the Potomac aquifer, underlie the coastal plain below the rivers and the bay. Unlike other areas where fracking is done, there are NO solid rock layers near the asurface to offer protection to the aquifers.. This means that after the shale is fracked, gas that is not collected in the pipe/well will migrate upward eventually entering the surface water. That is the bay- that is a doomsday scenario! You can’t fix natural gas in the water. Currently a man headquartered in Caroline county is trying to get permission from various counties (Caroline, Essex, King and Queen, and King George) in order to drill. I know that these counties are west of the bay but groundwater flows toward the bay and out to the fairly unstable stratigraphy of the ancient crater at the mouth of the bay. If this man can get permission he plans to get a big oil company to come in and do the drilling. If you want to get on a soap box, this is the one I would suggest.
Marilou~ This seems like a very valid fight. It deserves attention as well and the citizens of the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and all the other areas should band together and take this on. Fracking and the pollution of migrating ground water is a huge issue. The sad thing is, Natural Gas is a great alternative to our energy problems until solar and wind gain a foothold. Sadly, the way companies extract the natural gas is not environmentally sound. Maybe Omega should put their money where their mouth is and step up to add some muscle to the debate. They all have something to lose… as do we. I really appreciate your dialogue.
Actually, not a bad idea at all. I think I will talk to Monty about this!
I think you should. That $700,000.00 Omega spent on lobbyists for those foreign worker visas and the money saved by under paying those workers would have gone a long way in shedding light on the sea grass and fracking issues.
Who are you to write things like this? You did your own research and until you have actually lived in Reedville you won’t fully understand. Was this post out of anger, hatred even? You should be ashamed of bashing a beautiful town and COMPANY where people are only trying to make a living. You’re what we’d call a “come-here”. So sorry if the “smell” was too harsh for your little nose. To us, it smells like money.
Chris may have written the post, but I feel the need to jump in here. Who is he to write it? Look – we have a small sailing blog. We blog about the places we go, and our observations and perspectives on them, and we have every right to do so. We can’t help that this post went viral, and although some may disagree with us, many, many more are sharing it because it IS a problem, and at least it has people talking about what I think is a pretty important topic. This is how progress is made.
In addition, the post wasn’t written out of anger or hatred – it was written out of concern for a huge problem. In fact, although no one seems to get it, it all started because we liked the town of Reedville. We spent several days there last fall waiting out some nasty weather before transiting down the Bay and we had a lovely time (minus the smell). We ate in your restaurants, spent money, and walked around and explored the history of your town. The smell naturally caused us to question the plant, and we noticed that outside of Reedville, people we talked to about the plant mentioned the overfishing and have a general disdain for the plant and it’s practices, which may smell like money to you, but it’s hurting the rest of the Bay’s ecosystem – which hurts fishermen all over, who, like you, are trying to make a living.
Omega has your town brainwashed into thinking they care about you, but the fact is, they don’t. They only care about the huge profits they are making, with little regard to the health of the entire Chesapeake Bay, or the people of Reedville. Our point here is that it’s NOT ok to pollute the Bay. It’s NOT ok to overfish a species, and it’s NOT ok to defend that behavior. Omega pays their fines and moves along, but do you think they will be there to help your town when there are no fish left in the Bay? No. You’ll be stuck cleaning up their mess and shaking your heads wondering what happened if you don’t wake up.
Look at the home prices in Reedville in comparison to other towns on the Bay. I found your home values to be low in comparison – I’m guessing because people don’t want to move there. Why is that? Because of the fish plant. Other waterfront towns are doing fine without the benefit of Omega. I understand that there are few other options for employment in Reedville, but your town has several fantastic anchorages for boaters. It has lovely and charming homes. It COULD be a mecca for boaters to come spend their money, therefore stimulating your economy, but so many cruisers pass it by because of the stench of the plant, and I certainly will no longer spend my money in a town whose residents defend Omega’s behavior and practices. They should have to abide by the rules – not just dig in their fat pockets and pay millions of dollars in fines when they totally pollute and hurt the Bay and the livelihood of other fishermen, and say, “It was a bad year for us.” Poor Omega.
If you look at the big picture, Omega is hurting you more than it’s helping you, and if the people of Reedville don’t look far enough ahead to see that, then I’m afraid it’s a lost cause for your town and it’s future generations.
Charles R. Lawson says
I would recommend that the commenter do a bit of research into the “home values” in our area and find out the real reasons behind their “low” price. The commenter didn’t mention the poverty level of our area (over 51%). She didn’t look into our local public schools. She didn’t know anything about the lack of “basic” services found in urban areas and not here–hospital care, internet access, even simple trash pick-up. She has a very narrow perspective regarding the Northern Neck and its fragile economy. Like many “come-heres” (resorting sadly, to the level of the original author’s name calling methodology), she assumes that the only thing holding us back is some mythical tourist industry just waiting to appear over the horizon. I have heard this argument for years, and my family had heard it long before I was born. Furthermore, the “other waterfront towns” she mentions were also commercial fishing centers in years past. The stacks, nets, smells, and workboats gave way to the McMansions, marinas, and anchorages for recreation that you find in places like Deltaville, Irvington, and the like.
I figure these same writers would have protested the steamboat industry had there been a recreational sailing contingent present in the early 1900s Bay watershed.
To comment without a full perspective on the lives of those native to our area is to disregard nearly 350 years of history and to disrespect those who make their living traversing the brackish spray of our beloved Chesapeake Bay in search of its most precious resources.
Reedvillian… Melody was far too kind in her response. I however will stoop to your juvenile level and call you flat-out, an ignorant asshole. Please, quote me on that. If you read the blog and not just the title, you’d have seen that we like Reedville. The COMPANY as you so subtly put it, is over fishing the bay and dumping hazardous chemicals into the bay and ruining it for others. What really offends “my little nose” is when feckless, dolts such as yourself comment on something you haven’t read or understood clearly.
“To us, it smells like money”… very clever. To everyone else it smells like shit.
blair hansford says
Sorry that ending this raping and pillaging of one of the KEY building blocks for the bay puts a damper on your town’s lifestyle. You, like the rest of the sheep, screaming about “oh poor reedville, its our livelyhood” are the PROBLEM. Omega is long overdue to get the boot. I understand the value of the bay to commercial waterman. I have friends that net and crab. Flying a plane around to radio to boats to circle fish is NOT netting. It is a massacre. If your community is sooo worried about its economy, maybe you should shift your focus to oyster aquaculture. It would be benificial and HIGHLY Profitable.
Smells like money, huh? That’s exactly what they say in West Point thanks to the air pollution from the paper mill. In fact, that’s the saying anywhere there’s a big corporation taking advantage of a small community’s resources.
I’m gonna start by saying I am an employee at omega protein and I work on one of those god forsaken boats your talking about. First thing I wanna correct is we do have limits on our catch. Second, when you mentioned the visas they were obtained for bringing in workers down in abbeville, Louisiana not reedville va. As one person stated if you were to come talk to the local waterman and the born here people you would find that no one that has lived here all their life has a problem with omega. You keep saying when omega is gone we are gonna have to clean up a mess? When omega is gone there will be no reedville to clean up. You are worried about 1.5% higher unemployment! Shut that factory down and you will see an entirely higher number then that. You spoke of Monty Diehl, his whole family has always been waterman but he actually was in military. I may be wrong but I believe army and very high ranked. He understands laws and has made many changes since becoming manager. As an engineer we have very strict log books on pumping oily bilge water into a proper container at the dock water and many restrictions on sewage water also. There a far more people that could explain way more and if you are really interested Monty himself would love to sit and answer an question may have. I understand your concerns but I’m not sure you could ever grasp the entire story with omega and how much it truly drives the comunity in just a few short days of being here. Please come back and talk to locals that have grown up here and talk some of us that work there and your eyes will be opened to the real story.
Sam~ Thanks for posting. The big problem here is that many who comment haven’t read the blog all the way through. They post that I “hate waterman”… and I don’t. I love the watermen and the heritage that has been on the bay for centuries. That said. You sure you wanna stand by that statement that none of the foreign workers worked at the Reedville plant? I can send you a link to a government website that states “…47 out of the 650 workers hired went to Reedville”. When the menhaden are all fished out of the bay and the Omega plant closes anyway you’re gonna have no Reedville to clean up. That’s a very true assessment. I understand you all need jobs and the tit that is the Omega plant is where you all currently suckle. My position is simply that you should find and cultivate other revenue streams while you still have a town to assemble. “No one that’s lived in Reedville their whole life has a problem with Omega”… OF COURSE THEY DON’T! They’ve been paying mortgages, college tuitions, car payments on Omega’s dime. Just because you all sustain yourselves through Omega doesn’t give Omega the right to over fish the bay and dump hazardous chemicals. Why can’t you all see that? I’m baffled.
When Elijah Reed moved his fish factory to VA from Maine, where most were originally built, the stench was not tolerated where there were people, the reason was that the menhaden were wiped out in Maine and few would return for one hundred years. Omega benefits from the menhaden breeding in the ocean; they can “only” wipe out 90% of the fish in the Bay, and more fry move in to grow year to year. Like market hunters before them, many watermen think that since Omega has always taken huge amounts of these phytoplankton eaters, it can do no harm. However, the Bay has changed. There are many more people, much more pollution, and the Bay belongs to everyone, not just to watermen. The menhaden are one of the few natural combatants of pollution, eating many of the phytoplankton increased by pollution, clearing the water. A simple solution would be to fish in the ocean and leave the Bay menhaden alone, however that would cost more fuel. The locals call the stench “the smell of money”, and powerful families have made fortunes out of menhaden, but very little trickles to the local economy.
Thank you Michael. Great post. I agree with you all the way.
Duck n Buck Lures says
I have grown up on the bay my whole life and seen first hand the overfishing of this precious resource. One thing not mentioned in detail is that thesefish are filter feeders. THey make for cleaner waters and prevent algae blloms (look up Bay algae blooms for a WHOLE NOTHER PROBLEM!)
I want to applaude the author for bringing up the topic. I too wrote an article on this as well. It is the key to a balanced eco system in our BAY!
Duck n Buck: I did mention deep down in the blog that menhaden filter feed and remove nitrogen but thanks for pointing that out again. They are very important to the bay. I will check out your blog and thanks for posting.
Great read and much needed! I have seen the rapid decline in my 31 years of life. People need to stand up and say “If you support Omega, You will not get my vote for election.” only way to end this cycle!
Ducknbucklures: You hit the nail on the head. I commend you but I know that position will not be a popular one. I’ve been assaulted all week long. Thanks for reading AND for commenting.
Very nice article. I use the bay on a regular basis and have enjoyed the fishing. I write this from the view of somebody that is a rec fisherman and takes very little of the fish I catch home. Although the bay may seem large from the view of your boat it is a very small area when it comes to reduction fishing. The spotter planes, the large reduction boats and the boats that circle up the fish are amazing and have this down to a science. Your article made some reference to this but I equate this type of fishing to trying to support feeding this country by hunting. It would never work. Farming is the only way to sustain harvisting at this level. It would be nice if Omega put money back into farming to help solve this problem. It will change because this is not sustaniable. The schools of Menhaden are not what they used to be. I remember seeing acres and acres of menhaden all over the bay. Not much anymore.
This is similar to strip mining except in those cases it was not state land. In this situation one person (omega) is taking more then their fair share of the state and federal resources.
Thanks Daydreamer. Funny thing is, those who work in the strip mining industry are much like those who work for Omega. They will tell you there is no problem with stripping off the tops of mountains, destroying natural springs and wildlife and leaving without cleaning up their mess.
This article is a good follow up to your worry about the quantity of menhaden
I read this article, and while that’s positive news, it solely talks about the menhaden population in the Atlantic, and our post focuses on the population in the Chesapeake Bay.
SHAME ON YOU for telling people NOT to come to an area that relies heavily on tourism. I love how people claim to be an expert on our area when they don’t even know that rockfish and striped bass are the same thing. Perhaps you should have spent more time talking to local people and local watermen if you really wanted the true facts…sounds to me like you spent your time reading biased articles and talking to biased people instead. There are two sides to every story….but telling people to NOT visit our area is just plain WRONG.
Rita Turner says
Interesting! I think it is good to get people informed and at least talking about important issues. They may not all agree, but it is a start to finding solutions to problems,
Bay Native says
There are SO MANY items is this article that are inaccurate regarding the menhaden industry and the factory at Reedville. So, so many. Especially the fact that there are already reguations in place on how many and where menhaden can be caught by the reedville fleet. Author, do some fact checking.
Charlie Davidson says
I have been in Deltaville area for over 50yrs. Your article truly reflects much of how I see things. And that of most of the “local and weekenders” I talk with.
You lost your credibility when you started dropping the f bomb…
Guess that’s the English teacher in me coming out, but I fish both Maryland and Virginia and there’s no shortage of bunker in the bay and Va’s waters are way cleaner than Md by far. Hmmm why dont you write about that?!
There’s also no shortage of rockfish up the bay, just ask the maryland commercial hook and liners that are allowed tens of thousands of pounds in a short period of time every month.
Guess maybe that could be your next article if you ever make it up to Chesapeake Beach… Reedville isn’t a new topic and your little rant isn’t exactly going to make a big impact either. It’s not like anyone who lives there wants Reedville to turn into a big vacation town any more than it already is…
Reedville Resident says
I have lived in Reedville for many years and have spent my life on the bay. This is a very old topic and the science is very complex.
I will not point out all the inaccuracies in your blog because that has been the way this debate has gone for many years and little progress has been made…. One study contradicting an other…..and nothing gets done. They do however have a catch limit now.
My feeling is that they are overfishing. How much? That is the big question. They just don’t know but they have been doing it for a very long time.
Will make these points:
Money: Only way to combat money spent by Omega is to donate money yourself to the cause and write you representative.They will never close that factory unless they get some serious pressure from other groups. Articles, books, and blogs have been written on this topic for years. People have been writing about the issue for a very long time and it gets some interest spikes and then fades.
Smell / Pollution: The last 4 years, they have really changes the plant and the town rarely smells anymore unless you are directly downwind in a very narrow margin. Our house is close and go weeks without smelling it now. I think they knew they could not smell bad and over-fish, so they decided to cut back on the stink. They have also just converted their fleet to bio-diesel which is nice but also probably a PR ploy. Never the less, it reduces pollution in the bay. That company is watch closely, they get fined for every rule they break. They are watch much more closely that other bay companies by the state.
Boycott: This is where is an just puzzled! Reedville is the last “real” bay town left on the western shore and is a real hidden gem. Boycotting the town wold not hurt Omega. There is very little tourist dollars here to begin with. Mostly locals. The shops need more business and hopefully will increase employment outside the plant. 350 jobs could absorbed into the community if they had more tourists. The shop owners that you hurt by says something like that are powerless against Omega. You would just be sending more people to work at the plant.
I THINK YOU RELLY HURT YOURSELF AND THE ISSUE BY SUGGESTING A BOYCOTT. I URGE YOU TO REMOVE THAT FOR THE HARD WORKING PEOPLE THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OMEGA PLANT.
Thank you for your reply. I’m responding because Chris’ “Open Letter To Reedville” was his final response since everyone seems to be going in circles. If you read the “Open Letter To Reedville”, it explains it a little better. You may think that the small businesses are powerless, but you’d be surprised at how powerful a small town can be. And I understand that Omega gets fined for every rule they break – as they should – but at what point will they stop breaking the rules? If I lived in Reedville, I’d be angry that a company pollutes my waters, then just pays a fine instead of playing by the rules and filtering that money that would be spent on fines into the town instead. Wouldn’t that be money better spent? Play by the rules and everyone’s happy. Trust me, we are not your enemy. Reedville deserves better, but so many people there don’t understand that.
Reedville Resident says
I know he did not think this would go viral and probably on some level wish it did not. But now that it has, I would urge you to research more and repost the story once you have done some more research, adjust your tone, or just take it down. Despite the crude remarks on here most people in Reedville understand that Omega is on the edge of over-fishing. But you need to have respect and understand that these people have been fishing menhaden for well over 100 years and everything they have is because of that fish. They know a little about it.
Not cool to just trash a town, call for a boycott, on your blog and just sail away. You know that is not the right thing to do. You are no better than Omega if you act that way.
1. “I understand that Omega gets fined for every rule they break – as they should – but at what point will they stop breaking the rules? If I lived in Reedville, I’d be angry that a company pollutes my waters”
Their environmental impact (outside of over-fishing) is minimal for that size company and pales in comparison to the pollution that comes down the river from the big cities. The fines don’t go to the town. There is no incorporated township of Reedville. It goes to the State. You will find that they have a good environmental recored compared to most corporations.
2. “voice displeasure by NOT visiting Reedville, VA”
You didn’t call for a boycott?
I am not “for Omega” but I have to agree with the other posters… You are full of it.
You should stay in Deltaville with all the other a-holes.
3. “You may think that the small businesses are powerless, but you’d be surprised at how powerful a small town can be.”
In the simplest terms, you are wrong. They are in fact pretty powerless. There is only a handful of small business here and you have just hurt them all. These laws are enacted on a state / federal level. The ice-cream shop owner does not have much “pull in Richmond.”
Despite denying it, you did call to boycott the town.
So to the people on the WWW. Don’t listen to these people, come to Reedville check it out.
Enjoy the people and the food and you can even learn about Menhaden fishing.
Make up your own mind!
While I currently reside in Philadelphia, I grew up and spent the first half of my life close to the water in Gloucester, Mathews and Middlesex…areas with a strong fishing and crabbing presense. I’ll also admit that prior to reading this blog post, I had never even heard of Reedville, though no doubt being so close I must have passed through on occasion.
On one hand, I can begin to understand why those that have reponded negatively to this blog have done so in the way they have. Watermen are a proud people, living a lifestyle steeped in tradition. It’s a tough job and the return on investment can be feast or famine, yet generations have soldiered through even as the Bay declines. (If you told me the term “salt of the Earth” was forged in the Chesapeake Bay, I would totally believe you!) Coupled with a community such as Reedville’s longstanding tradition, however, is the undeniable involvement of corporate tentacles into said traditions. OPC has been around “forever,” providing local jobs, tax incentives, etc. (albeit at a cost to community resources) and for that reason, I think it’s understandable to see the gut reaction from local critics to protect the corporate hand that feeds them. For years, locals bought into what they were sold by OPC and peddled by local government.
On the other, that doesn’t make it “right.” This Menhaden issue, the topic of this blog post, is just one facet of a much larger problem, one that is too large to answer to in the form of a single blog post. The author was honest and sincere in his approach, making no insinuation that this was in any way a documentary editorial by any means, so no good comes from splitting hairs over rockfish/striped bass as it’s inconsequential and distracts from the real issue at hand. The blog’s critics charge the author, as an outsider, is ignorant of Reedville, and that may very well be to some degree, but it can be said that some of those same critics are equally ignorant in the respect that again, this is just one facet of a larger issue; this is not just about Reedville.
I would also think that locals should be thanking the author for shining a light on the tiny town, seeing that apparently tourism dollars are so very important. This is a real opportunity for locals to make lemonade out of lemons, instead of bitching and moaning about the status quo while remaining completely complacent about it. You would be doing much more of a service to yourselves if you got your heads out of your asses and entertained the idea that perhaps, just perhaps, an outside perspective of your very own piece of Nowhere, USA, might be helpful to see the “big picture” and in policing companies like OPC to ensure that their continued presense remains a win-win for the community and local resources as a whole…resources which I would like to remind you belong to all of us. Maybe it takes an outsider to say, “Hey, what the heck is going on here?!”
On a side note, I would be interested to hear from Marilou on the bay grasses/SGV. This is actually something I’ve thought about on my visits home and as I notice the ever-changing maritime climate. Are there any regional non-profits involved in this? Are there “re-planting” efforts? Is that even feasible?
Ron Herring says
I just re -read this article and it is funny how a word-smith as he claims to be does not know how to un-tangle what he has written. If he makes one dollar off of this atrocity I hope it chokes his sails to the point that he has to ask a hard working law abiding Omega Fisherman for a tow. I mean him no harm and will not curse him as he did in his article. My mother always said that a man that has to use that kind of language to get his point across, did not pay attention to vocabulary in school, to dumb to learn or just needed a good whoopin growing up. “Stupid is as Stupid does”
For all the folks who commented I am currently a waterman close to reedville I work off windmill point and I can say that local waterman have suffered a lot since omega gets what they want I remember keeping rock fish now they caught so many killed so many that we have to throw back fish while they grindem up hmm not fair I have also noticed our fishing depleteing our crabs depleting cause of this every year they take more we lose more rights so I have to say to those following a tradition your failing yourself and others by. Following a company that’s destroying us and our economy us little guys add up we spend a lot of money to keep up our boats our gear for what to throw back our catch while they get the gravey
Reedville Resident. says
Again your understanding of menhaden fishing is shaky at best. Most of the violations you talked about are from their plant in LA and they are based in TX BTW. This is a coastal fish too. It’s a coastal population. But let’s just agree they are over-fished.
Next point your don’t understand how the regulations work. It is regulated by the GROUP of 15 coastal states. AND AS Of 2012 it is Regulated.
Or it can be regulated by the state of virginia. The people of Reedville can do almost nothing to effect Omega. They don’t have pull in Richmond, Texas, or DC.
The people in Reedville already live in a very poor county (notice I did not say city. Reedville does not have a town govt). Northumberland county is small in numbers and cash. They certainly are not going to starve and loose their home taking on Omega. Everything they have is because of that fish.
Sending out a post suggesting one boycott this town could cause people to loose jobs that have nothing to do with the plant.
This is an awful title and you have hurt everyone here for suggesting boycotting local business who have no influence on Richmond or Omega.
Your tone is awful and you don’t seem to understand how this post can really hurt a small town who (again) can’t do anything to stop it.
After reading your blog and the posts my initial reaction was to start punching the keyboard, to outline the extent of my knowledge and experience and to opine as many have about the Bay, Omega, pollution, rights and the Answer. I do have to rein in my thoughts when I read something designed to incite fervor and perhaps sell something. Since you know the solution to the Chesapeake’s issues, after docking a few times on a boat and reading some other opinions and studies, I think you should leave Solomon’s and cross the bay to the islands, dock there and determine the cause and solution for their continual sinking and then move on to all of the various inflows of the Bay, test the water quality of each, and then offer a fix for those problems as well.
I would offer my background and my years of residency in my native Virginia’s Northern Neck as a credential but that is a distraction as years of perceiving change, alone, is not a valid means to offer cause and solution. My point is that this is a very complicated scenario, years in the making, and it constantly moves on and morphs, so a singular attack on the menhaden industry is naive and yes, ignorant. I suspect you probably care about the subject and I suspect your motivation to blog is not to affect the situation but to illicit a response and to get people to confront each other, again, not to address the underlying issue. Insulting those of us who call the Bay home unfortunately will not provide any answers or conclusions.
I find the deluge of opinion that pulses across the net daily to be a disservice to the real struggle and to the various efforts that confront known issues routinely and that work toward a real and lasting management program to help restore health and longevity to our environment. Much of what you say is somewhat valid, much of what has been said in response is also valid and that includes a lot of the thoughtful criticism and none of it provides any lasting effect other than prodding people to disagree and fight over something that is only a symptom, not a fix. Our political system suffers from the juvenile display of passions and opinions instead of addressing the real and underlying issues and we all are suffering due to the resulting animosity and lack of respect for our neighbor, as random words cause us to react and for some to be violent.
I think you could learn from this exercise and be more successful to focus your efforts on travel subjects, sunsets, lapping water, and maybe critiques of various waterfront restaurants as your current need to raise a stink and then to offer a singular, simplistic solution serves no meaningful purpose and it may be counterproductive due to the confrontations I read in response. I realized long ago that the more I learn, the less I really know. Your position is typical of a transient becoming an expert or at least a self proclaimed important voice, over night, after traveling and visiting areas that are ground zero for local and global issues. A real approach to environmental management involves inclusion not conflict, science, corporate commitment, government structure and a passionate educated citizenry that acknowledges the problem, seeks a united solution and commits to pay the tab in money and deed. Your vehicle is not served well by four letter words, a rush to judgment and the silly call to tiny Reedville to make it all right.
If you really care, lose the attitude and join those of us who have been trying for years to lay the ground work to solve this dilemma that took years to create, and to do it in a way that will be effective and sustainable. I think everyone represented in this blog cares and there is much to agree on, so focus on that, leave the foul language, divisive assumptions and the idea that there is a single answer to the middle schoolers who haven’t learned yet that they are so ignorant. I guess as they used to say: “that doesn’t sell newspapers.”
I said I would not respond to any more comments because many were becoming redundant assaults but your comment is one of the more rational ones. Although you should dispense with the sarcasm as it does your argument a disservice… ahem…
While you are completely wrong about my purpose for writing the blog, I agree with your approach to environmental management. The blog was not written to illicit a response. It was not written to pad blog statistics or sell anything. And if you knew me at all, getting people to confront each other couldn’t be farther from who I am. I’ve not made a single penny from any of this, nor do I plan to. It was not written to destroy the economy or the town of Reedville, stir up conflict or divide a community.
It was written because the Omega plant seems to violate at will and nothing seems to be done about it. Of course there are many other environmental factors at play. Call me ignorant all you want but I was simply looking at the OPC plant when I decided to write the blog. I wasn’t looking to do a 50 page dissertation on the state of the Chesapeake Bay. My “four-letter words” and my “attitude” are part of the way that I write. I will not apologize for that. And I never said I was an expert or claimed self importance in the blog. In fact, I said that I was not an expert, just someone who observed something and wanted to find out more. I wrote a “broad brush” opinion with links to sources and added my .02. The mere fact that the people have responded with such disdain and hatred says to me, there is a very real problem to be dealt with and you…
you are judging me with the same contempt that you accuse me of using. You elevate yourself above the discussion with your qualifications and then toss in sarcastic statements like, “I’ve docked a boat a couple times so I must be an expert on the environment? Head over to the islands and find out why they’re sinking?” I mean it’s funny and entertaining… and maybe you’re trying to “sell newspapers” or get a gig as a comedian but be careful there Charles… you discredit yourself by appearing to be holier than thou and then slipping stuff like that in.
I do agree with much that you say and it is rare in life that there is ever a singular solution to anything but it seems to me like people have been talking about this for decades. At what point sir does the conversation cease and the action begin. I do care about what happens to Reedville, the watermen and the Bay (or at least I did before all of this) but I might have to disagree with your assessment that there is “much to agree on.” If you would, go through and read some of the comments that have been posted and tell me where you see agreeable language. That’s just my take but thanks so much for a level headed critique. I appreciate your time.
Don’t confuse description for judgment. Yes, I am entwined in sarcasm as you seem to be in expletives so we both can learn if we are to contribute anything meaningful. I don’t consider ignorance a derogatory term, it is what it is, lack of all the facts and not an assignment of fault. You and I could go on for awhile – I see no point. I really think we mostly agree.
Also, everyone posting here that is sane, does agree and does want the same result: a clean, healthy, thriving Bay, whether we know it or not, and regardless of our ultimate motivations. The stumbling block is figuring out how and when we get there. Omega will be part of the solution, its in their best interest, or as the dire forecasts indicate, they will fail as a business if the resource is depleted. If I try to shed my sarcasm, I also try to not be so cynical to believe they (OPC) are willing to swallow a poison pill and along that line I am also glad that my perception and suspicion of your voice is wrong.
Your suggestion that my point gets lost when the sarcasm rears its ugly head is valid and I offer that your inclusion of the expletives during a serious conversation leaves an off-taste that demeans the thought process and handicaps the clarity you intend to convey. Suffice to say, we need to focus on the big picture and work through ASMFC, VMRC, CCA, etc., using the slow inclusive process this country is based on and trust that eventually it will yield improvement and long term solutions to this issue and those associated with the growing pressure on all of our resources. Menhaden are a part of the conversation, crabs, oysters, the many species of fish, marine grass and the various unwanted contributions we humans make to the watershed have to be addressed as a whole.
I have enjoyed the banter, thanks, fair winds; see you on the Bay!
Amen Charles. I agree 100%. I was mostly jabbing at you and making light of your sarcasm. I am a huge fan of well played sarcasm and irony and I laughed out loud. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to “explain” my voice and the reason for my blog. I appreciate your insight and your clear explanations. The big picture is indeed the aim. All the best to you as well.
WONDERFUL article about an industry that, in my opinion, has totally adversely affected the fishing environment in the Chesapeake Bay and its neighboring rivers. I have been going to a place on the Rappahannock at Deltaville the since 1962 and vividly remember catching huge amounts of “yellow bellies” (spot), croakers (“hogs”) taylor blues, flounder, and more, and now we’re lucky to catch a few small croaker and maybe a few more spot. I am not sure if the Menhaden fleet that “fishes” up to the Norris Bridge is totally responsible, but I am sure they contribute. The marinas, charter boat captains, tackle shops, seafood retailers, recreational fishermen, etc., are suffering !
Thanks again for this article, which I have forwarded to many.
Charles R. Lawson says
I find it interesting that most of the fishing failures are usually noted when a blue-bottomed boat is in sight of the complainant’s vessel. This has been the rule for all 33 years of my life.
If you were to look on the Omega boats, examining the hold for edible food fish (those that the charter fishermen seek) you wouldn’t find enough there to feed the men working the nets. The “suffering” and overall plight of the recreational fishing industry may exist, but it isn’t in large part due to Omega Protein. Many of my friends are charter boat captains and I want them to succeed like any other business (including my own, non-water based business), however when they can offer an alternative to the economic boon that the plant represents I will be all ears.
Perhaps you should do what you have suggested to many people who responded to your blog. Go back and read it again.
The title of your blog is “Somethings Fishy In Reedville, VA – Why You Shouldn’t Go There…” The title alone suggest an attack on Reedville, VA when in fact your issue is not with Reedville, VA it is with Omega. Would you cut down an entire apple tree because you have one bad apple hanging from it? If you have an issue with Omega then let your issue be with them and not the entire community of Reedville, Va. Perhaps you should reconsider the title of your article.
I am a native of Virginia, have family that lives in Reedville, and I have visited there on many occasions. Reedville as well as the surrounding communities are some of the most beautiful places I have visited.
As you stated in your opening comments you are not a journalist nor an investigative journalist. I agree. My issue is not with your opinion because an opinion is just that. My issue is when you use facts that are either not true or at a minimum 1/2 true. If your article were strictly your opinion I would not even bother posting.
1. Reedville is a fishing community with a Menhaden Plant (they process fish). Were you expecting it to smell like a Rose garden? I am sure there are some who do not enjoy the fish smell but it’s a reality of where they live. You stated that people around the lower Chesapeake Bay don’t seem to want to discuss the plant. How many people did you talk too? Did you happen to find folks that love their community? Did you happen to omit those folks?
2. “In recent years, the menhaden population has declined by… are you sitting down… 90 PERCENT! 90 F’ing PERCENT, people!”
Numbers don’t lie, but people lie about the numbers. This so called fact was discredited back in 2012. I am not arguing the population has not declined but not to the degree of 90% reported by the Pew Environment Group. They used numbers from very specific time frames and not as a whole since data started being collected.
3. You stated “Their diet is predominantly menhaden.”
Studies have shown that Menhaden account for only 10% of the Rockfish diet. So I would imagine if there were a 90% decrease in Menhaden there would be a corresponding decrease in Rockfish. According to statistics from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The population has increased steadily since 1982. 1982 8.9 million; 2004 70.8 million; 2007 51.4 million. I have yet to locate current data in recent years so I can’t comment on the current population.
4. You stated “Recently there have been heated debates about putting restrictions on this plant and they’ve all been defeated due to the serious money the lobby throws at the Richmond, VA governing officials.
Fact: Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission applied restrictions back in 2012. The yearly harvest limit is 170,800 metric tons.
CHAPTER 4 VAC 20-1270-10 ET SEQ of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
5. “The real and inexcusable issue here is that Omega won’t even entertain the idea of placing a limit on their catch. They want unobstructed rights to every menhaden in the bay. THAT’s the crime.”
See above, it’s not their choice…they are restricted. Under current regulation Omega is the only company in Virginia that is allowed to commercially harvest Menhaden under the regulations of the ASMFC.
I don’t have an issue with you providing an opinion, but you need to get your facts straight.
If Omega is in violation of any local, state, or federal laws then by all means they should be punished. But don’t attack the fine folks and community of Reedville, Va because you have an issue with Omega.
I was born and raised in Northumberland County and have always been vigilant to educate myself about the community; and I agree with this article. People are, in general, not the most educated in my area about this issue and defend Omega Protein to the core due to family and friends working there. Ever since being a Governor’s school student, I’ve realized the corruption and idiocy that is Omega Protein. I support this article and have checked the facts. Research trumps personal opinion every time and I shake my head at either locals who are nothing more but in uneducated rednecks. Hence, why I moved and found success elsewhere.
Chris -“Thanks for the article” and pointing out what most anglers have been noticing for ages. I have been fishing the Chesapeake for years. Funny how you could be catching fish at the drop of a line until the menhaden boats show up and everyone that’s seen it before is smart enough to reel in and go home because the only bite left is a pesky-ass biting fly- oops did I just offend someone? Surely no one has ever did this and forgot by casting a holier than hell stone at you.. So omega closes up? What? You mean we dare not to provide more jobs for visa workers as if my taxes at withholding on paycheck stub doesn’t already fund their well being? Really?. It’s funny how the disrupted few on here point out your vernacular and unaccreditation on labeling a species as a means to discredit you altogether when there is no leg for them to stand on and look pitifully defenseless (the old last grasp before falling short of addressing whats on the plate or the politician’s way to sidetrack, so to speak.) . It is also most remarkable how the nets are only designed to catch menhaden fish, surely the other fish stand by and watch the net only meant for the menhaden fish to get ensnared and that is the reason they no longer bite. Yeah ok. And these huge ships that collect the fish? There isn’t any legible English script adorned on the side of them that I ever saw. For all I know it could very well be some vulgar foreign insignia. The solution would be to shut that shit down and return the waters to the locals and anglers as it used to be. I pledge to forego the fish oil and fertilizer for the return of our natural resources and fishing habitat.
@Chris. Let’s say you shut down Omega completely. What happens next? Overpopulation….have you considered the ramifications on the waters and ecosystem?
It’s much like the deer population in Virginia….if deer were not hunted we would have them coming out of the wood work.
What we need is to have level headed people work towards a balanced solution. People need to drop their political agenda, environmental agenda, and disdain for business trying to make a profit.
All too often people on both sides don’t want to give in out of pure ignorance.
We need to turn to the objective scientist who make it their living to study and track the effects on both side and provide their findings so that both sides can take the necessary steps to ensure balance.
Shutting down the plant may solve one problem but it could also create new problems.
The harvesting is currently regulated and it must continue to ensure balance.
Now if Omega is violating local, state, or federal laws. Or if they are dumping toxic chemicals that are damaging the bay the by all means the need to be stopped.
BOTTOM LINE…..We need to be good stewards of our resources.
Captains Daughter says
There is a saying in Reedville that goes something like this, “You have no business complaining about Reedville until you have at least four generations of your people buried in Roseland Cemetary”.
While I think your overall message is important. The title is a poor choice, and there are many inaccuracies.
The saddest part of this article is that it has gone viral and it gives an inaccurate perception of the town of Reedville. To recommend not visiting this town makes no sense. The local businesses will suffer not the plant!
Maybe list more of the companies/products that use the oil and ask your followers not to buy their products.
The problem isn’t Reedville or the people in the Reedville. Direct the blame and anger where it belongs …towards OMEGA.
Paul S. Roper says
“Sailors, boaters and travellers can voice their displeasure by NOT visiting Reedville, Va.” This collective group of tourists would actually be doing Reedville a favor by staying out of their way as they conduct their business. Reedville is a commercial fishing community and has never been considered a port-of-call for pleasure craft nor has it ever especially wanted to. I can make this statement with a reasonable degree of authority as my maternal grandfather and his progeny were actively involved in the menhaden industry for many years.
Captn Salty says
Great article. When I hear ‘heritage ~~ culture’ while resources are being raped from the environment they should be thinking of tobacco, textiles, and buggy whip makers. I travel from New England to Bimini twice annually and avoid commercial fishing towns like the plague. North Carolina commercial fishermen are of the same mentality as those in Reedsville. Sad the lives based on lies and ‘heritage’ that do not want to change. Change is coming and if smart would be embracing it early as when it is forced upon them by their ‘heritage’ it is going to bite very hard. As they continue unashamed we should have no sympathy or offer assistance when their ‘heritage’ falls around them.
Judging by the common voice to all the replies that lambast you and call you a “come here”, I would speculate that it may be the same few, possibly just one, individuals writing on behalf of the beloved “Company”. The psychopaths that run these large corporations often hire media specialists who employ these feeble-minded tactics, i.e. writing as though they are a local who is loyal to the company and defending the company’s right to rape and pillage as it sees fit. I applaud your efforts and am very glad to see that the article went viral. We need as much of this type of exposure as possible. Great work!
Another Tim says
Chris, 25k hits on the blog and 2k shares on Facebook…. which I’m sure is higher today. I’d say you struck a nerve! Thanks for publishing this. People are talking, some are thinking, and that’s good! I personally believe that this is a real part of the human equation that’s killing the bay. You hit on something important, I think. “They are filter feeders and have the ability to filter a volume of water equal to the entire Chesapeake Bay in less than one day with the potential annually to consume 25% of the nitrogen in the Bay.” I have no facts readily at hand (yet) to prove it but it doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots on less filter feeders, higher nitrogen levels, increased oxygen “dead zones” in the bay and rivers, dying grasses mentioned in an earlier reply (VERY real by the way) and the impact (a culprit?) of overfishing an abundant filter feeder. Oysters are also filter feeders. When John Smith first explored the Bay, it’s been said that they used to filter the entire Bay every 3 days. Now we as a species are destroying another major filter feeder. My “old timer” friends who’ve grown up on the Rappahannock tell me stories of the grasses and the related health of the crab population. Couple that with the effect on the food chain…and…. it sucks to be a crab. You’re right about rockfish….they eat the menhaden. Guess what they eat if they don’t have menhaden. Crabs. So do the Drum. Last year was a terrible year for crabs on the Rappahannock. It was an amazing year for rockfish and puppy drum…who never left the river by the way. Puppy drum were caught all through the summer on our stretch of the Rappahannock. It’s all related. What’s the equation….who knows…and it’s been changing as we’ve continued to populate, pollute and over-fish the bay…but I believe you are correct in addressing the impact of over-fishing the menhaden and identifying a major piece in today’s puzzle. I applaude the effort to connect the dots!
I spend a lot of time on the bay in Virginia, this is a great article and I would love to share it on social media. However the use of foul language takes away from the seriousness of the author and the issue. Too bad.
Sandra Wells says
I am 67 yrs. old & my husband (Larry) is 72. In 1985 Larry won 1st place at the Bluefish Derby in Reedville, VA. To date his 19.38 lb. Bluefish still holds the record. For over 20 yrs. our whole family drove from Richmond, VA to Reedville every weekend to enjoy crabbing & fishing. We knew when we smelled the ‘Huff & Puff’ cat food plant that we were near our destination…Reedville. ‘Smelly Cat’, yes…free countless days & nights of crabbing and fishing at Reedville that our 2 daughters will never forget are irreplaceable. Eating our bounty caught by our own hands on a hot summer night (no AC) outside on a picnic table was pure joy. I now reside in FL; however, when reading about what Is happening in Reedville and the ‘menhaden’ massacre makes me sick. The Omega Corp. must have a hell of a lot of clout and dish out a lot of payola to politicians to allow the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem to be destroyed for what…the almighty buck! Fish and wildlife cannot be replaced. Why is Omega getting away with the magnitude of their fishing and how have they been allowed to ‘buy’ visas for illegal immigrants when locals need and want jobs? Even locals in Reedville are afraid to speak out against Omega. What has happened to ‘Freedom of Speech’ w/o persecution. This is only the tip of the iceberg b/c if it’s happening in the quaint town of Reedville, VA what is happening nationally, globally to allow our ecosystem to be destroyed forever. Once destroyed, then what? Memories & pictures of my daughters playing on the beach, throwing chicken necks on the end of ropes into the Chesapeake Bay to catch a basket of huge blue crabs, fishing with their father, friends and family gatherings cannot be forgotten. Will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren ever get a chance to just ‘fish’ and live the ‘good life’? If Omega Corp. & politicians have their way, probably not gonna happen. I wholeheartedly agree with the writer of this article who had the courage to wonder & ask & even research Omega’s ‘illegal’ harvesting of menhaden. ‘Bullshit’ is the personification of Omega & Richmond, VA politicians who will sell their soul for a buck!
Reid M says
“When the Rockfish, Striped Bass, Bluefish and other species don’t have food, THEY DIE! Thusly THE BAY DIES!”
Rockfish and Striped bass are the synonymous you incompetent jackass.
1.) If you’re going to place limits on my bag size as a sport fisherman, then why should pound nets and commercial fishing vessel not? That is irrational in itself.
The decline in fishing within the upper bay is VERY apparent- I’m a primary witness to this decline over the course of my relatively short existence… specifically the past 5 years. Thus, I can agree.
2.) Proposing that tourists stop going to Reedville in an effort to “protest” Omega is one of the most senseless, imbecilic courses of action to suggest. Doing so would ultimately condemn the entire Northern Neck community of a vast amount of economic benefit and revenue that is brought to the area by “here-comers” on a seasonal basis. This includes and benefits all facets of industry, and are vital to creating economic prosperity for the region and in addition to JOBS- of which are already scarce, as noted. In short, you would be penalizing the local businesses of Reedville for a corporation located there that has little regard for the bay and has virtually authority or say over Omega… that is sheer insanity, at best. The root of evils lies in lobbyists and politicians that turn the cheek constantly with monetary donations and corrupt backdoor deals. Your findings and support I would declare as relevant and strong; however, your conclusion for a solution to this issue I would yield as a waste breath and a disgrace for the human race. As an individual who presented such a valid and compelling argument throughout your passage, only to lead to a dim-whited, impractical hypothesis for a solution- you should feel sorry for your own existence. People like you are singlehandedly responsible for the degradation of this fine country- you provide just evidence only to conclude a solution that holds no common sense and will further entrench all of us into a limitless black hole of unhappiness and insanity. Instead of proposing a solution for Omega- possibly a resolution for assholes like you would be in order. I am willing to start an online petition for signatures of those individuals who agree that by you ending your own life it would better suit society than your verbal, conclusive harms to this community. If that is too aggressive, I think you should end your journalism career as of this very moment and apologize to the people of Reedville. Good day.
Sir, I find it interesting that you suggest I “…kill myself” and then tell me “Good day.” Your hatred is so… polite.
You should read the post again… I strongly state that if they are regulating sport fisherman, they should also STRONGLY regulate the pound nets.
This is an interesting article. It sounds like the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission passed a 20% reduction restriction on menhaden fishing in December 2012 according to this recent Washington Post article: http://preview.tinyurl.com/oscyofa. Have you heard of this restriction and if it has made an impact? Since Omega Protein has the largest menhaden fish processing plant, it sounds like the restriction should have significantly affected their annual catch.
Omega Protein must follow the catch limits; they must follow the various laws and rules that govern their business. If they don’t follow these, they will be shut down. My understanding is that the catch limits are working since the Menhaden population seems to have increased slightly.
Also, if you look at the Omega Protein web site, all information is public. Also, note that they have expanded into other businesses. That way, as they cut back on Menhaden fishing, they can expand into other avenues.
Reedville, VA (I am told) is small and far away from big city life. I am told that the residence know each other well, and they support one another as much as possible. The nearest hospital is an hour away, and the nearest large (public) airport is two hours away. That means, they need the revenue from such a large business. Whether they agree with the processing or whether they think that the Company fishes too many Menhaden, they will support the business.
Also, the USA is purchasing more and more fish oil pills. Many articles tout how wonderful concentrated fish oil pills are for various reasons. That make the oil Menhaden a large commodity. As such, Omega (as well as other industries) will do their part to ensure survival of the species in order to catch and process more. They have converted much of their processing to environmentally friendly ways.
Anyway, there are valid points made on this blog, but not all opinions are facts. Just remember that as you read each most. (And, yes, that even means my responses.) This is all opinion.
A parting comment…
I can’t help but be a bit surprised and a bit depressed by the number and the ”quality” of the posts on this blog. I generally avoid social media as well as any interactive sharing of opinion and I think for good reason if this blog is an indication of the process. Yes, there are some inaccuracies in the blog, however the author was making a series of points and using some statistics to offer evidence that his view is real, based on data, and that dangers to the health of the Bay should be confronted. Although late to the party, his concern is shared by many and the perennial fight over balance between conservationists, boaters and water lovers, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen and the processing companies has been long, well published, passionate on all sides and is ongoing and dynamic.
The author offered in good faith a singular view of the menhaden debate focused on the value of the species commercially and environmentally and his drastic solution, offered as his opinion, to the documented violations by OPC in the areas of safety, pollution and perceived overfishing of the resource. He went to great length to substantiate his opinion and to provide sources for research..
What stormed over the blogasphere in response? For his effort, he was crucified by opposition, praised by supporters and misquoted and held to account for statements that were misunderstood, not read completely or taken out of context. Instead, each person could have offered his view, especially if it is new or different, and certainly if there is evidence to support it, rather than the variety of personal attacks that do nothing to advance the gist of the conversation. All opinions are just that, however they are only meaningful if they seek to advance the discussion or quash it through presentation of appropriate and convincing persuasive evidence. I was initially skeptical of the author’s motives and he responded to quiet my fears and I take him at his word.
Recreational fishermen (I am one) lined up in support on the blog and elsewhere to applaud the volleys against Omega and to offer personal visual anecdotes and perceived experiences that somehow, in their minds, constitute a valid argument, even evidence. These testimonials are not scientific and they suffer from lack of any basis in the logical examination of the state of and history of finfish populations but these fishermen are stakeholders because they believe a change in the menhaden fishery toward a smaller quota or abolition altogether would enhance their own bounty. This was not expressed as a concern for the overall health of the Bay; it is a greedy call to improve their personal take.
The townsfolk of Reedville and proud residents (I am one) of and visitors to the Northern Neck have responded vocally as a defensive reaction to the author’s assertion that they should pressure Omega to change its ways, perceiving the blog as a personal assault on their location, their freedom to earn a living and to their pursuit of recreation and beloved way of life. The call to action was a simple point that those closest to the source of complaint may hold the key to rapid reversal of any abuse.
The blog has taken on a life of its own as more posts continue with mostly the same themes, and the critical focus on minor points that many feel they have to expose as incorrect regardless of the impact (or lack of) on the conversation as a whole, and the deliberate posting of hatred and contempt for an unwelcome point of view. One man’s opinion and questions about an industry has somehow morphed into perception as a personal attack on residents and workers in the minds of those who read incompletely or incorrectly.
Social media is dangerous. Yes it is democratic. For that, I concede there must be value, but buyer beware. Inherent in being public, as there is no filter, it includes anything and everything anyone wishes to post regardless of validity, regardless of any conformity to the various rules of order usually demanded by intellectual discourse and it opens serious topics to confrontation by feelings and opinions whether well-placed, civilized or true. This effect is compounded by poor grammar, misspelling, disparaging language and incomplete thoughts that are published, detracting from, but lending all equal voice in the overall conversation. This mob mentality has been responsible for many mishaps and deaths around the globe. If it is on the internet, it must be true. Can “social” topics and banter be separated from vital philosophical, political and scientific questions?
By definition, Americans prize freedom, especially freedom of speech, and though social media can be a useful tool, often it is counterproductive by spreading rumor and innuendo disguised as truth. In reality, opinions, part truths and targeted speculations unsubstantiated by evidence are routinely produced for public consumption with many unsavory motivations in mind. There is certainly undeniable power in a mob, by the sheer numbers, but that doesn’t make it right or useful. Many a corpse has swung from a tree limb as a result of bad evidence spread by feelings and passion.
The energy wasted by chatting online with the confrontation and animosity shown in these blog posts is a sad commentary on our politics and our waning tolerance of free exchanges of ideas. Consider the possible progress and result if the same energy was used to contact our representative officials, agencies, private organizations and perhaps the offenders themselves instead of arguing about rockfish being a colloquial term for striped bass or for some just to jump at a chance to refute an opinion using four letter words as the emphasis instead of content and intent. Free exchange and reasonable evaluation is how a mob becomes a democracy. Again, the lack of respect for all points of view, provided courtesy of the anonymity of the internet is a disservice and a danger that has shifted us further from our tradition and toward consideration of the absurd when we could be discussing the topic in light of all perspectives while embracing current science and with an eye on consequences.
I believe that before opening a mouth via the keyboard everyone needs to read and to completely understand the conversation. Consider these points: Realize your voice is part of your reputation and it is important to guard it as such and to use it in a way to enhance self-respect as well as others’ ability to benefit from the wisdom you share. Words are our currency, it’s the same as spending money; we choose to do that based on value, needs, and wants so very selectively we decide to spend with regard to our own resources and goals. Shouldn’t our words should be “spent” with the same care as money? Passion and reaction spurs us to respond immediately, however, valuable thought is timeless and shouldn’t some effort be taken to evaluate and hone our response prior to a rush to make it public? Since you feel anonymous are you supporting a stance you would offer and defend face to face? Do you need to join the conversation to add substance or are you merely restating what has been written? Is your contribution pertinent or is it really just a “like” or an “I agree” or “ I disagree” and if so, shouldn’t you limit it to that? Does it really serve any real purpose to engage in name calling and profanity? Is this somehow confused as a measure of the degree of passion you invest in the argument or is it a signal that you unsuccessfully grasp for terms to refute an offense? Is it useful to point out, criticize, support, or disagree with certain words, phrases or thoughts in lieu of discussing the intent of the discussion and/or the overall point of the article? Some distinction should be drawn between those speculating, offering opinions, and listening to themselves talk and those paying attention to the debate, offering verifiable evidence and striving for common sense solutions to the problem that could and probably should be embraced by all.
Yes, the internet is free but it is costing us dearly in terms of limiting our free speech. Due to bad actors using horrible terms, threats and personal attacks rather than spirited debate that respects others, we limit our participation, not because we are voiceless, but because we are put off by the tone of the conversation and the arbitrary retaliation associated with joining it. This translates in everyday life to people avoiding discussions they should have because of a fear of confrontation or they may feel awkward since they have a different point of view from friends, relatives and neighbors which as we see online can result in violent repercussions. This is a sad assessment of the state of our freedom, and a resulting loss in terms of possibility. The voices online are a small minority of the whole. They should be treated as such until a determination is made to the contrary. Remember when disagreement was announced but the right to voice one’s opinion freely and without retribution was defended to the death? Our forefathers devised this nation to insure equality and freedom, shed blood to make it a reality and we are disrespecting that effort and jeopardizing the values we hold most dear by condemning others instead of challenging them with reason.
I hope we drop the attacks, listen to each other, move on and get back to trying to solve the complex issues facing the Bay, to joining forces to protect and make these resources sustainable, to dividing access to them equitably and to continually arguing for our representatives to make this happen by funding the science necessary to enact smart programs that insure goals are met. These problems are man-made. Activity that is harmful must be changed. Our topic deserves scientific investigation and balanced action based on the best evidence available. Education of all and of future generations to respect the environment and to mitigate our effects on it through understanding it is the top priority. Policing those who would violate the terms of the effort, the laws of nature and man and/or the spirit of the demand for a clean, healthy, thriving, sustainable Chesapeake Bay must be real and carry strict consequences. I hope going forward that posters and everyday dialogue will embrace one of my mottoes: think about what you say and don’t say everything you think.
Thank you for an excellent article. I’m a lower bay striped bass fisherman. The fishing is not what it used to be and I can’t find any other reasons why other than food stock decline.
Tourism will come back to Reedville when recreational fishing improves. The lack of Striped Bass is hurting the sport fishing industry down here in the lower bay too. If I were a Striped Bass, I wouldn’t wander in to the Chesapeake Bay either if there was nothing there to eat!
So I read your article and although I did find it interesting along with some of your findings, my question to the author of this is: Did you do any research on why there are no fish in the upper bay before blaming the fish factory? It appears you went by the word of a local and the fact that you didnt see any fish. Well I have a friend, while in college, had to do a study on this very topic and her conclusion was that he had to do with all the red tide coming out of the Potomac river. Now the reason. Because of the sludge farmers are buying from jersey and new York, because they are running out of space to put there own human waste I guess. So they decided to sell it to farmers and it runs off into the Potomac then the bay. Not to mention you have quite a few cities and industries running along the river or near by. Theres a lot of waste being pumped into that river. Well shit flows downhill my friend.
Chris did the research and talking to people was just what initiated his desire to look into it further. He researched many sources, and of course we understand there are several other contributing factors to the decline of the fish in the Bay (as well as the decline of the sea grass and other living things and organisms), but Omega is not an innocent bystander in this whole thing, either.
Sailboates, huh? I wonder if you are one of the many that dock in Reedville at private property? Then throw your trash onto the docks and leave? Then the trash gets opened up by the wild animals and gets back into the water? That is not good for the fish or sea grass either. So many sailboaters come into town and disrespect property, people and the environment.
Sailboaters and sport fishermen run through pound nets and tear them up. It costs hundreds to repair.
There needs to be mutual respect between everyone.
We’ve never docked at private property – during both of our stays in Reedville, we anchored in the designated anchorage, and we are extremely conscious of our impact on the places we visit. We dispose of our trash in proper receptacles, we don’t dump anything into the water, and we frequent local restaurants in the hopes that our travel dollars help fuel the economy of the towns we visit. We enjoyed our stay both times in Reedville. It’s the practices of the fish plant that we don’t agree with.
I’m not an investigator, but I made assumptions by reading your blog. I thought that you both must fit the sailboaters sterotype that exist in town. The mentioned things have happened in the past.
I would ask that you and the others posting comments here not make the assumption that everyone living in Reedville is uneducated, lazy and money hungry. I do not live there anymore, but still have family there. The majority of people are educated and hard working. Yes, there are lazy people who don’t want to work and wait for hand outs from the government. According to the nightly news, this is a problem across our whole great country.
My family has actually made friends with people who were passing through on sailboats, and even kept in touch with some over the years. I just ask that you think about others before you post disrespectful things.
Also, if the plant were to close it would be much more than the 250 jobs mentioned. Every business in the county is directly or indirectly impacted by the industry. It even spreads to neighboring counties. The caps on the catches were in place before this article was even written. The people wants to keep fish in the bay more than anyone else. Their families depend on them.
Thanks for commenting. This topic has been discussed at such great length within the comments I hesitate to go there again. That said, I did not make assumptions and I don’t think I called anyone in Reedville, “Lazy, uneducated or money hungry.” Respectfully, my issue is with the plant. I would like to believe most boaters respect the water and the culture surrounding the Chesapeake as places we want to survive and prosper. I think you should re-read the piece.
The writer of this story has no idea what he is talking about, totally BS, Hogwash. Omega does not even fish in the area he is talking about. Also, Virginia monitors Omega’s fish catch regularly and as a matter of fact, gave them back 10% more fish they can catch this year because the Menhaden numbers are up by a significant amount. If you are going to spout off publicly about something you know nothing about, have your facts straight. Someone needs to kick this idiots soap box out from under him with a rope around his stupid neck…………………..
Greetings to you and yours, I trust your summer is going well and that the downtime and participation in the grind will yield a nice nest egg to make the future a more palatable season. I read your most recent posts and after enjoying learning about life in Georgia and about Eagles fans I decided to look back at the Reedville blog noting that more comments have appeared. I will refrain from rehashing any of my previous commentary, but…
Obviously, these new folks were under their respective rocks during the melee of last summer and yet now they choose to contribute but add nothing new. A lot would be gained if people would read everything carefully, including the comments, before they decide the topic needs further development. Menhaden science varies in method and in result as described many times in these comments, but it is all we have as a management tool. I do applaud you for being the bigger man by posting, in fairness, all of the pointless and hateful comments that distract from the topic and add no substance to the conversation. I am a staunch defender of free speech and liberty, but feelings? Probably not. Your topic was not about feelings, nor did you ask for anyone to share theirs; whether for or against any concept, feelings about the subject or deciding that a certain argument has hurt one’s feelings needs to remain in the realm of Facebook or the Inquirer instead of any thoughtful arenas. I think the anti-virus companies should work on a filter that relegates personal attack and hatred to a dark corner of the internet or perhaps flushes them into an appropriate receptacle.
My point in writing is to offer you an apology on behalf of the majority, the good people of the Commonwealth of Virginia, specifically of the Northern Neck and of Reedville. I have good friends in Reedville, as well as in the menhaden industry and some working for Omega and I assure you they and the good citizens of our state are mostly stand up, hard working, friendly people with reasonable attitudes toward others and respect for different points of view. My sweet late mother spent her life avoiding conflict or insult simply responding to comments or queries concerning others that she disagreed with, disapproved of or just didn’t understand as having been “raised differently.” That was that, her final and only word on the subject, case closed!
I find it hard to understand those who must consider insult, personal attack and plain hatred some form of a badge of honor or even a form of expression and I guess the best thing for me to say is that I was raised differently. I also imagine our forefathers are squirming in their graves at these comments considering their sacrifices and the amount of time, effort, bloodshed and debate they agonized over and committed to the cause of liberty and freedom. These current detractors disgrace our ancestors memory, spirit and our Virginia tradition of being leaders in careful thought and promotion of ideals all the while protecting each others rights and offering respect in our disagreements and our discourse. The founders manner and their ideals formed the roots, foundation and strength of our present day democracy.
America has done more than any nation or culture to promote and offer freedom to the world by advancing the internet and social media platforms enabling those with no voice in their land with both a podium and an audience. Some of what we have gotten in return is expression of varying philosophies, cultures, and then some calls to respond with and spread violence. The concept of Jihad is foreign to America physically and intellectually, though it has become familiar around the world due to our effort to give freedom of speech and liberty to the globe. Again, this is not an American concept. It is anti-American to consider assault and physical or verbal attack on a person as an end in itself. Those who find reward in personally attacking you and beating a dead horse by posting hatred and redundant comments on this blog need to close their computers and open their minds. Then, they should make a short trip to Williamsburg, VA where a wealth of intellectual heritage stands ready and is available to educate them or re-educate them about our country, its founding principles and the passion, not hatred or insult, that those great pioneers spent toward their dream, succeeding by passing down a reality of freedom, a great nation, and a blueprint of democratic government to us, both to safeguard and to enjoy.
Again, I apologize for these people waging internet Jihad as they are from our great state. They are anti-American and certainly not behaving in the tradition of Virginia’s legacy to the nation and they disparage the reputation of the fine residents of our Northern Neck. I guess they were just raised differently.
Bravo Charles, Bravo! I am touched by the amazing rebuttal to the redundant calls for my demise you’ve constructed. I can only say one thing. I’m over it. I would “disable” future comments on that post but if I do that, it hides all previous comments and I think it’s important for those who still care to read the entire “dialogue” (for lack of a better word) in order to get the full picture (if that’s possible). I don’t wish to add fuel to this old fire but as I sit here typing this to you, across the top of my laptop is visible the latest edition of TIME magazine with it’s entirety devoted to Thomas Jefferson. Quite ironic don’t you think?
You touch on so much in your comment that I could never begin to respond in the manner it deserves in the space provided but I will agree that our “new found” forms of expression give everyone the impression that every last thought they have is worthy of notation and broadcast to the world. Twitter, Facebook, Periscope and the others give all of us that “freedom” of voice… but the discretion one needs to discern what should be said and what shouldn’t be said… well sir, that’s another matter entirely. Maybe I should have thought twice myself before posting that piece. Oh, well.
Your mother was a wise woman. We’d all do well to avoid conflict and insult for life is far too short and time too precious to waste on hateful individuals and mindless tasks. As you know from prior discussions with me via email, my intent was not to harm the people of Reedville and I’ll leave it there because any clarifications would just serve to muddy the waters further and continue the hateful rhetoric. I am marching on. You need not apologize for those who’ve wished us harm. I have a saying too Charles, “It’s all good.” And that’s because it is.
Thank you for staying in touch. I really enjoy reading your editorials and view points. You are eloquent, well versed and welcome anytime. Peace to you and yours.
David E. Morrison says
We have a lot of folks that go spot fishing in the Bay and the general consensus is that the fishing has gone to pot in the last few years. Fewer fish and much smaller fish. I was taking fish oil and got a very aggressive form of prostate cancer. There is a documented scientific medical paper on the use of fish oil and aggressive prostate cancer.