The Omega Protein fishermen in Reedville started the season strong. They were doing so well, in fact, that their supply was outpacing demand, which has prompted the company to set self-imposed catch limits.
“The fishermen had the best opening months we’ve seen in a long time,” said Ben Landry director of public affairs. “And as we harvested the fish and manufactured those into fish meal and oil, we weren’t able to move out older product fast enough for what was coming in. So we’ve had to throttle back on how much we allow the vessels to catch every week.”
For the past several weeks, Omega has imposed individualized weekly quotas on each of its boats. When the fishermen hit that limit, their boat is docked for the remainder of that week and they’re paid a day rate for the days they don’t fish. The restrictions have some degree of trickle-down effect on the shore-side workers. Normally, it would be closer to a seven-day week for shoreside operations and that’s been dialed down some too. But the fishermen are still catching a fair amount of fish so there’s still a lot to process, said Landry.
One of the primary reasons Omega is facing this dilemma is because of Chinese tariffs, which are “pretty pervasive,” Landry explained. China has a “tremendous” market requiring protein for its feed, and it’s has been a place for Omega to offload a lot of its product. But “because of the tariffs, it’s really taken that option off of the table.”
For the full article, pick up the latest Northern Neck News 8/7/19