Can Pogie Fisheries Buy Environmental Sustainability?

Omega Protein thinks their environmental sustainability can be bought for purchase, not based on science. Should this type of pogie fishing be allowed in Louisiana’s fragile surf zone? Rep. Orgeron has a bill, H.B. 535, to protect it. Doug Olander in describes below how Omega Protein purchased a study in 2019 to assess their certification for ‘sustainability’ by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Commercial Menhaden Operation Buys Respectability

Omega Protein, in short, is the only reduction fishery — using spotter planes and purse-seining 200,000 tons (2017 data) of menhaden along the mid-Atlantic and, more recently, also the Northeast — remaining on our Atlantic coast. Other such reduction fisheries have been banned.

But other such fisheries — that reduce forage fish to meal to feed farmed fish in pens and our pets — lacked the power and influence that Omega (which recently became Canadian owned) has amassed over the years.

Its most recent efforts to wrap itself in a cloak of respectability by claiming it’s a certified sustainable fishery came after it paid a company called SAI Global for a study assessing its qualification for certification by the Marine Stewardship Council. In March, these independent ­auditors officially recommended that the MSC label Omega’s operation as sustainable. (I don’t know exactly how much this independent body was paid, but their analysis for Omega, at more than 500 pages, sure didn’t come cheap.)

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