Healthy Oceans 11000, Factory Fishing ZERO
by John Hocevar
July 22, 2005
Greenpeace is working with fishermen and environmentalists to stop factory fishing giant Omega Protein from vacuuming so many fish out of the Atlantic that it is putting entire ecosystems at risk.
Omega has bullied the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) into letting them take as much fish as they want with no catch limits. Omega is going after menhaden, a fish that is so important to coastal Atlantic ecosystems it has been called “the most important fish in the sea.”
Greenpeace is calling for a coastwide moratorium on the industrial menhaden
fishery. Omega, meanwhile, continues to threaten legal action if anyone dares to limit their take.
We have just finished attending a series of twelve public hearings up and down the east coast, and people turned out by the hundreds to demand action. In state after state, fishermen came to tell the ASMFC that menhaden had been largely fished out of their waters, and as a result they had lost many of the fish that feed on menhaden as well.
At the Maryland hearing, more people came out than had been to any hearing in the history of the ASMFC. There were at least 250 people at this one, with people standing along the walls and in the aisles. The best moment came near the end, when the fisheries
commissioner asked for a show of hands for those who were supporting a
moratorium. “Um, I can’t count all those hands – well, can I have a show of hands for people who DON’T support a moratorium?” Nobody, not even one solitary hand.
As of last week, they had received about 4,000 comments, around ten times the amount they’d received on their most controversial issue in recent years. This week, you sent ELEVEN THOUSAND comments to the ASMFC! I love it.
We’ve got another couple weeks of hearings to go, but already all the people who came to these hearings and the thousands of comments we are generating to the fisheries commission is having an impact, and even members of their scientific advisory committee are responding. Still, we know that it is going to take more than that.
This weekend, we will taking our message directly to Omega, with an event on the water outside their facility in Virginia. Stay tuned!