Letter: Menhaden proposal would harm economy
As the partner/owner of a small business, I am deeply concerned about the proposed menhaden fishing limitations as outlined in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Draft Amendment 2. The unprecedented harvest cuts within this amendment will severely and negatively impact Omega Protein’s operations in Reedville. Omega Protein has been a long and important customer of Courthouse Construction, Inc. Any hardship imposed on them will negatively affect our business.
The data being used to support this proposed amendment are questionable at best and those making these important decisions must do so without full confidence in their conclusion. Reports that menhaden are at their lowest levels in years are contradicted by many experts, whose scientific data strongly negates this assumption. ASMFC’s own and latest menhaden stock assessment, conducted this year, was deemed unsuitable for management purposes by their own Menhaden Technical Committee. With stakes this high, the ASMFC cannot afford to play guessing games with our area’s economic future. Given this high degree of uncertainty, I strongly oppose the proposed cuts to menhaden harvest levels; at least until and when conclusive, reliable and substantive findings regarding the menhaden fishery’s status become available.
For going on two centuries, residents of hard-working communities along the Atlantic coast have made their living in the menhaden industry. For many of these towns, it is the only industry and the foundation of the local economy. Anyone even vaguely familiar with the Town of Reedville, Northumberland and the surrounding counties knows that severely reducing (or worse, halting) Omega Protein’s operations would have a catastrophic economic effect on the area.
Hundreds directly, and likely thousands indirectly, of vendors and contractors like Courthouse Construction, Inc., serve this industry. Our businesses support Omega’s operations and, to a significant degree, depend on their success. Our company’s future and that of my employees should not be jeopardized by a decision based on questionable and inconclusive findings. It is inconceivable that ASMFC would even consider acquiescing to the pressure tactics of special interest groups, and use limited scientific data to make a decision that will so negatively harm our already struggling economy. Rather than a "rush to judgment," it is our responsibility to demand that any decision directly affecting this economy be based on sound, definitive, peer-reviewed and verifiable scientific findings.
Vice President, Courthouse Construction, Inc.