Omega Protein introduces two new state-of-the-art vessels to its menhaden fleet
Ingredients company Omega Protein has kicked off its 105th consecutive fishing season in Reedville, Virginia with the christening of two new vessels – the Cockrells Creek and the Windmill Point.
The launch of the new vessels is part of the company’s ongoing effort “to advance its sustainable practices by modernizing its fishing fleet,” Omega Protein said in a news release. A short film, Omega Protein: Fishing for Life, which contains footage captured aboard the latest additions to the company’s menhaden fleet, was released to coincide with the vessels’ christening on 22 April.
The new boats replace World War II-era vessels the Reedville and the Tangier Island. Among the new features on board the Cockrells Creek and the Windmill Point is an improved refrigeration system, “which will help ensure that Omega Protein’s harvest is as fresh as possible when the vessels reach the dock,” explained the company. The vessels also boast a greater capacity, holding up to two million fish apiece, compared to the 1.3 million held by the retiring vessels.
Ultimately, the new boats “provide a safer, more seaworthy working platform for crewmembers, and upgraded living quarters,” according to Omega Protein.
“As we near the kick off of our 105th year, these new vessels exemplify our continued investment in the future of Reedville,” Omega Protein Vice President of Operations Monty Deihl said. “We also have the privilege of honoring the people who have helped build our community and our industry.”
Two women, both leaders within Reedville’s historic menhaden fishery, have sponsored the new vessels. Dixie Deihl, who has sponsored of the Cockrells Creek, is a native of Northumberland County. Her late husband of 45 years, Captain Henry Deihl, was a third-generation menhaden captain before passing away in 2007. Deihl has been a supporter of the menhaden industry for more than 55 years, and her two sons and three grandsons continue to work for Omega Protein.
Gayle Dameron, sponsor of the Windmill Point, is a Virginia native who married Captain Dale Dameron, a third generation menhaden captain. The Damerons were married for 44 years before Dale passed away last year. Gayle Dameron has spent time working at Northumberland County schools over the years, and volunteered for school functions and at the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum. The Damerons’ son, Captain Michael Dale Dameron, works within the menhaden fishery in the same capacity as his late father.
The Reedville and the Tangier Island were honored during the 22 April christening ceremony – both vessels will be cleaned, stripped of machinery, and sunk to become artificial reefs. A third vessel, the John S. Dempster Jr., is also being retired, and will be kept as a ready reserve spare vessel, Omega Protein said.