Omega Protein Corporation's Ben Landry: Pew Trust's Praise for Menhaden Cuts Ignores Enforcement Failures, Economic Costs

In National Fisherman Magazine's August 2014 edition, Ben Landry, Director of Public Affairs at Omega Protein Corporation, responds to an opinion piece by Peter Baker of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which was distributed on Pew's own websites and the Conservation Law Foundation's "Talking Fish" blog. Mr. Landry's response highlights serious inequities and problems he believes surround the enforcement of historic cuts to the commercial Atlantic menhaden fishery.

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Mr. Baker makes no mention of those states which, despite vocal support for cuts in 2012, have since flatly refused to enforce or skirted enforcement of the quota reduction.

Reedville, Virginia (PRWEB) July 23, 2014

Earlier this year, and timed to coincide with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Spring Meeting, Peter Baker, The Pew Charitable Trusts' Director of U.S. Oceans, Northeast, published an opinion piece titled, "Atlantic Menhaden Catch Cap a Success." Mr. Baker's account of regulatory affairs since an historic 20 percent coastwide Atlantic menhaden harvest cut was enacted in 2012 praises the implementation of the cuts and alleges that job losses and economic struggles predicted by fishermen have not "come to pass."

Responding in National Fisherman Magazine's August 2014 edition, Ben Landry’s response highlights serious inequities and problems he believes surround the enforcement of cuts to the commercial Atlantic menhaden fishery, which he says were ignored or glossed over in Mr. Baker's analysis. Mr. Landry is the Director of Public Affairs at Omega Protein Corporation, which operates the largest commercial menhaden fishery on the East Coast from its Atlantic operations base in Reedville, Virginia.

The harvest cut stems from a 2012 decision by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Mr. Landry’s response in National Fisherman points out that Mr. Baker was heavily involved in the effort to enact these cuts he now defends, having led the Pew Charitable Trusts' campaign in support, which independent sources determined was characterized by questionable claims. For example, three days before the ASMFC’s vote, the Pew Environment Group ran large newspaper ads in state capitals up and down the East Coast, asking governors to "take note." The ads stated "menhaden numbers along our coast have plummeted by 90 percent." When the Providence Journal asked the Pulitzer Prize winning fact checking group PolitiFact to analyze Pew’s claim, PolitiFact deemed it to be "Mostly False," publishing its determination on the day of the vote, December 14, 2012.

Mr. Baker now defends the implementation of the quota cuts, writing on May 15, 2014 "All 15 Atlantic coast states have successfully implemented the catch cap." Mr. Landry notes, however, that Mr. Baker makes no mention of those states which, despite vocal support for cuts in 2012, have since flatly refused to enforce or skirted enforcement of the quota reduction. According to Mr. Landry's opinion piece in National Fisherman, Maryland was one of the most vocal supporters of the cuts, but has since manipulated a regulatory loophole allowing fishermen to continue catching menhaden as bycatch once the state exceeded its directed catch quota. New York categorically refused to enforce its quota, claiming the new quota - based on the cuts for which New York voted in 2012 - was rendered using flawed landings data. Mr. Landry’s commentary is substantiated by a September 19, 2013 Newsday story detailing New York State’s refusal to enforce its new quota.

Mr. Landry's response notes the irregularities and inequities in the enforcement of the coastwide cut, highlights serious areas of concern for the legitimacy of enforcement thus far, and states that Mr. Baker's characterization of the cuts as having succeeded, "depends on a very limited definition of 'success.'"

Further, Mr. Landry points out that Mr. Baker's attempts to downplay job losses and economic struggles are not based in fact. In Virginia, a state that did abide by the new reduced quotas, the number of active vessels in the fishery was reduced by two, and sixty-five jobs have been lost at Omega Protein Corporation's facility in Reedville, Virginia since 2010 as a result of the pending, and since enacted, harvest cuts.

Mr. Baker's piece was distributed on Pew's own websites and the Conservation Law Foundation's "Talking Fish" blog on May 14, 2014.

About Omega Protein:
Omega Protein Corporation (NYSE: OME) is a century old nutritional company that develops, produces, and delivers healthy products throughout the world to improve the nutritional integrity of functional foods, dietary supplements, and animal feeds. Omega Protein's mission is to help people lead healthier lives with better nutrition through sustainably sourced ingredients such as highly-refined omega-3 rich fish oil, specialty proteins, and nutraceuticals.


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