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VMRC: 400,000 dead fish spill into Hampton Roads waters

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission said a seafood company spilled more than 400,000 dead menhaden fish into Hampton Roads waters.

HAMPTON, Va. — A Canadian-owned seafood company dumped hundreds of thousands of dead fish into Hampton Roads waters just in past week, according to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

In a letter dated September 8 from VMRC Commissioner Steven Bowman to Omega Protein, Bowman said that two incidents in the previous two days resulted in "an estimated 400,000" menhaden fish being spilled into area waters. Bowman said that since 2018, there have been 13 reported fish spills by Omega Protein, averaging about 121,000 fish each time.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, fish spills happen when the company uses large nets to scoop up large schools of menhaden. Anytime the nets tear, they result in major fish spills.

The CBF said one of the recent spills happened off Grandview Beach in Hampton, after a full fishing net snagged an old anchor, spilling thousands of dead fish into the water.

The fish may wash up on Hampton Roads beaches this weekend.

Menhaden are a key food fish for many animals in the bay, including striped bass, osprey, and whales. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said Omega Protein catches more than 70 percent of all menhaden harvested on the East Coast, grinding them up for fish-oil pills, fertilizer, and animal feed.


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