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CRYSTAL CITY -- A coastwide fisheries panel will give Virginia its allotted time to comply with a July 1 deadline to cap the industrial harvest of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Menhaden Management Board, meeting in Northern Virginia yesterday, could have tentatively declared the state out of compliance with an earlier commission order to limit the catch.

By deferring a compliance decision until its August meeting, the board demonstrated its faith in Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's apparent desire to cap Omega Protein Co.'s catch in compliance with an earlier board vote.

At stake is the entire Virginia harvest of menhaden, which is a key bait for the region's blue crab fishery and which Omega uses to produce meals and oils, used chiefly for animal feeds and industrial purposes. If Virginia fails to impose the cap, the fisheries commission could trigger a federal ban on all harvesting of the species in Virginia waters.

Kaine announced last month that he wanted to impose menhaden limits but said the legislation that gives him that power also prevents him from exercising it while the General Assembly is in session. The legislature remains stalled in the longest-running session in Virginia history in which it has been unable to agree on a budget.

In contrast to Kaine's stated willingness to embrace a cap, the legislature gave the idea a chilly reception this winter. Several bills either died or were withdrawn that would have enacted the fisheries commission's mandated limits.

Howard King, director of Maryland's Fisheries Service and a menhaden management board member, said he was sympathetic to Kaine's dilemma. King told the board he was willing to give Virginia the benefit of the doubt "until such time it is obvious Virginia will not comply" after the July 1 deadline.

Yesterday's short and civil meeting of dozens of representatives from the 14 coastal states, contrasted sharply with the protracted and tense face-off between Omega and its critics who fear the company is depleting the menhaden population in the bay. Critics suspect a decline in menhaden is stressing popular sports fish, such as striped bass, and reducing the sheer mass of menhaden filter-feeders, straining pollution-causing plankton from bay waters.

Tensions reached a peak last summer when Greenpeace members in inflatable boats and outboards staged a protest rally in front of Omega's fish factory in Reedville.

The menhaden management board voted in August despite the objection of its Virginia representatives and Omega Protein Co. to limit Omega's annual bay catch of menhaden to about 106,000 metric tons -- the company's average harvest from 2000 through 2004.

As approved, the cap lasts for five years and gives scientists time to learn more about menhaden populations in the bay and the effect of natural predation and human harvest on them.

The huge catches that Omega lands in Reedville make the town at the tip of the Northern Neck the second-largest port in the country in terms of landed weight.

Omega processes the fish, which are inedible, into meal and oil used for animal feeds, industrial purposes and most recently food-grade oils with healthful Omega-3 fatty acids.


Contact staff writer Lawrence Latané III at [email protected] or (804) 333-3461.
 

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it looks like that website is currently owned by a web development company, which according to my sibling, is not unusual until the full contract has been paid by the company that wanted the website created. the development company is out of Portsmouth, NH. now, i'd think that if omega was behind the website, they'd use a local VA company for their web development, and not a company in NH.
 

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Younger, you may be right. My brother just checked out www.menhadenfacts.com (his first search was on the .org site) and it seems like the meta data info that is part of the registration is from Omega Protein.

Current Registrar: BULKREGISTER, LLC.
IP Address: 64.35.41.122 (ARIN & RIPE IP search)
IP Location: US(UNITED STATES)
Record Type: Domain Name
Server Type: Apache 1
Lock Status: ACTIVE
Web Site Status: Active
DMOZ no listings
Y! Directory: see listings
Web Site Title: Atlantic Menhaden Coalition - Welcome
Meta Description: Omega Protein is the nation's largest producer of Omega-3
fish oil. Omega 3 fish oil, protein rich fish meal and fish soluables are
Omega protein's specialty. Omega-3 oil, used as a food supplement, helps
prevent heart
Meta Keywords: Omega Protein Corporation, Atlantic Menhaden Coalition,
Atlantic Menhaden Caolition,menhaden,chesapeake bay fishing,menhaden
matters,menhaden matter,menhaden fishing,atlantic menhaden,menhaden
Virginia,Virginia menhaden
Secure: No
E-commerce: No
Traffic Ranking: Not available
Data as of: 12-Apr-2006
 
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