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Volume 16, Issue 8 - February 21 - February 27, 2008

Letters to the Editor

We welcome your opinions and letters – with name and address. We will edit when necessary. Include your name, address and phone number for verification. Mail them to Bay Weekly, P.O. Box 358, Deale, MD 20751 • E-mail them to [email protected]. or submit your letters on line, click here

Drawing a Line Between Reporting and Editorializing

Dear Bay Weekly:

While I appreciated Ben Miller’s interesting story on the history of the ships of Omega Protein’s menhaden fishery fleet [Still Serving After All These Years: Vol. vxi, No 7: Feb. 14], I did not appreciate Bay Weekly giving industry flak Ben Landry the opportunity to spout his deceit un-rebutted.

Time and again, Omega Protein and Mr. Landry continue to deny that their barbaric overharvesting practices are harming the fishery and the overall Bay ecosystem. In Virginia waters, the fleet uses purse seining, a ruthlessly “efficient” method of catching fish that has been banned in Maryland since the 1950s. The truth is, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the overall number of menhaden is near historic lows, and the population of young menhaden has been at an all-time low for more than a decade.

To add insult to injury, the company, in effect, receives an annual subsidy worth tens of millions of dollars from the people of the Chesapeake region in the form of a harvest of millions of pounds of these important filter feeders. In practice, it turns out the fleet that is “still serving after all these years” was re-furbished, in large part due to federal subsidies to Omega granted through the National Marine Fisheries Service. This racket is perhaps the most egregious example of socializing the costs and privatizing the profits on the Chesapeake today.

Why should the welfare of 328 Reedvillians and the six-figure salaries of several Houston-based, corporate executives trump the health of Chesapeake Bay and the stake that the other 15 million of us living in the watershed have in it? Regardless of its ships’ storied histories, it’s time for the Omega fleet to be put in dry dock, permanently.

–Erik Michelsen, Churchton

Editor’s note: Ben Miller’s story is what journalism is about, reporting facts independent of praise or blame.

In Bay Weekly editorials and columns, however, we’ve clearly staked our position, running 20 editorials, Bill Burton columns or Way Downstream reports on Omega Protein, all of them critical.

Keeping South County Rural

Dear Bay Weekly:

I thought you might be amused by the attached photo. It was taken a week ago at that new McMansion housing development on Ironside Drive near the intersection of routes 258 and 2. The cow seems determined to keep South County rural. The photo was taken by my wife, Tara Hamilton.

Enjoy, and keep up the great work at Bay Weekly!

–Jeff Fletcher, Deale

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