Letters to the Editor

Menhaden aren’t being ‘decimated’

Lately, I’ve read several opinion articles about the menhaden fishery and problems with Omega Protein.

I’m a lifelong resident of Pascagoula and a sport fisherman. I have no connections or interests in Omega Protein, but most of my spare time is spent fishing for trout and redfish, and I typically fish the same area (Round Island) where Omega Protein fishes for menhaden.

I have no issue with menhaden fishing. Their industry provides hundreds of jobs and pumps millions of dollars into our local economy. Indirectly, their product helps provide food for many as animal feed.

Their bycatch is closely regulated and very small. I’ve never personally seen evidence of any bycatch dumped overboard.

In his “Menhaden haven’t been ‘researched’” (July 31) letter, Steve Shepard’s statement that “menhaden are being decimated by boats during the hot summer months” doesn’t seem to be viable. The commercial menhaden fleet has been operating in our area for 60 years now. If Omega Protein were to decimate the menhaden fishery, they would put themselves out of a job, so it’s not probable.

Shepard suggesting the DMR “should move to eliminate the menhaden fishery from Mississippi waters” isn’t justified. He also suggested a 1-mile limit for fishing Jackson County waters. I’ve been told some want the 1-mile limit because the boats are ugly when fishing near the beachfront. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

When I see a menhaden boat making a set, what I see is a group of hardworking men making an honest living and providing a service that helps us all. I don’t believe these negative opinions are justified.

Ronnie Sheldon