Omega Protein Makes Good on Threat to Cut Jobs, but it Doesn’t Have To

Omega Protein employs 250 people in Reedville, VA, mostly factory workers and fishermen who net Atlantic menhaden, taking whole schools of the small, oily fish from the ocean and grinding them into meal, oil and solubles.

Some of those jobs are in peril, but they shouldn’t be.

Omega Protein warned last year that catch limits on menhaden — a vital food source for a range of species — could result in lost jobs. The company has long touted the importance of the menhaden industry to the tiny coastal town of Reedville, where hundreds of people depend on the company for work.

Omega Protein cares so much about its storied history of menhaden fishing in Reedville that it spent $50,000 in 2010 to “save the stack” — a crumbling monument to a long-defunct fish processing plant that “lends the town an air of majesty,” Omega Protein said.

That same spirit of preservation will not be extended to its employees this fishing season, though.