(VIRGINIA BEACH)—Omega Protein's Atlantic menhaden fishery was recommended for a leading seafood sustainability certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in a draft report released today by analyst SAI Global. This opens a 30-day public comment period before certification can be put in place. Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore released the following statement.
“Marine Stewardship Council standards are used by seafood lovers to verify if a fishery is well-managed and sustainable, but they risk becoming meaningless if Omega Protein's menhaden fishery is certified. Omega Protein is seeking sustainability certification even though just this past year it successfully fought regulations in Virginia that would have helped ensure a healthy menhaden population in Chesapeake Bay. This has put its industrial menhaden fishery in Virginia on the path to noncompliance.
"While it's a positive step that the draft report identified additional conditions for certification, these conditions don't go far enough. Menhaden play a key role in the food chain, and there have long been unresolved concerns about their industrial-scale harvest concentrated in the Bay and nearby coastal areas. These concerns must be addressed, and Virginia must come into compliance with the menhaden harvest cap in Chesapeake Bay before MSC approval of this fishery.
"To ensure their standards are taken seriously in the future, MSC should deny certification until important ecological issues in the Chesapeake Bay are resolved."