Ocean Harvesters, the exclusive fishing partner of Omega Protein, is deploying a new response team and recovery vessel to more effectively respond to rare incidents such as net tears and fish spills.
As part of this effort, Ocean Harvesters, in co-operation with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), has successfully tested a skimmer vessel, which will arrive at the scene of a net tear and work to recover spilled fish from the surface that threaten shorelines. This vessel will begin operating in Chesapeake Bay with this upcoming fishing season.
Net tears in the menhaden fishery are rare, but will occasionally occur in the course of normal fishing operations. Omega Protein and Ocean Harvesters have always followed best-practice protocols when a fish spill has occurred in the past, working with the VMRC to identify when a spill occurs, monitoring the affected areas for any dead fish, and cleaning up any fish that may wash ashore. This new vessel will improve the company’s capacity to respond to spills by allowing crews to collect fish spills at sea.
The response vessel operates similarly to menhaden fishing vessels. A main boat, Hopeful Harvest, will be deployed to the site of a fish spill. At the scene, it will launch two smaller skimmer boats, which are capable of recovering floating fish from the surface and transferring them onto Hopeful Harvest for disposal.
The vessel itself will be operated by Ocean Harvesters and will work closely with their menhaden fishing operations.
‘We’ve always been proactive in addressing fish spills, but this represents a big step forward in our ability to deal with potential spills,’ said Monty Deihl, CEO of Ocean Harvesters.
‘We always strive to be good stewards of the Bay, and this is just the latest step in our long-term efforts to collaborate with state officials and local communities to improve our operations.’