- Last Updated on Monday, 12 August 2013 15:14
- Published on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 20:53
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U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson has fined Omega Protein, Inc., a Texas firm that operates a large fish processing facility in Reedsville, $7.5 million and placed the firm on three years probation following Omega Protein’s criminal conviction for two violations of the Clean Water Act.
“Omega Protein’s conduct both harmed our environment and violated federal law,” said Neil McBride, U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. In announcing the fine in Norfolk, McBride said the fine and
probation “reflect the seriousness of these charges and our commitment to protect the waterways.”
Omega Protein, Inc. is a publicly traded company and is one of the world’s leading producers of fish oil and the nation’s largest producer of fish meal. Omega Protein gets its products by processing menhaden -- small, oily, Omega 3 rich fish that are primarily found off the East Coast of Virginia.
According to court documents, Omega Protein violated the Clean Water Act from May 2008 through September 2010 by allowing its Reedville-based fishing fleet to discharge fish waste combined with water and pollutants into the Chesapeake Bay. By law, that kind of waste discharge, called “bail,” is only permitted when vessels are more than three miles off shore in the Atlantic.
Responding to the fine and probation, the company issued a statement that said “Omega Protein, Inc. is committed to ensuring that we operate in compliance with federal and state environmental requirements.
“The company has expended significant resources to strengthen its environmental compliance systems across its operations,” Bret Scholtes, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, said. “We are committed to being a responsible corporate citizen and protecting the ocean waters upon which we all rely.”
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Executive Director, Ann Jennings, said, “It is troubling that Virginia’s largest harvester of fish would be convicted of serious clean water law violations. Few industries are more dependent on the bay than our fishing industry, and such criminal violations harm the people, businesses and localities that depend upon clean water for their livelihoods.”