Omega Protein

Omega Protein Corporation
Type Public (NYSE: OME)
Industry Fish products
Founded 1998
Headquarters Houston, Texas
Revenue $177 million USD
Employees 653

Omega Protein Corporation (NYSEOME) is the world's largest producer of omega-3 fish oil and North America's largest manufacturer of protein-rich specialty fishmeal and organic fish solubles.



Menhaden fishing is one of America's oldest commercial industries that dates back to the 1800s. In the early year of American history, menhaden fishing and processing was very common sight along the Atlantic coast line. In 1850, d.D. Wells & Son start the very first fish factory for catching and processing menhaden.[1] In fact, by the 1950s there was 112 fishing vessels being used to catch menhaden.

In 1878 John and Thomas Haynie began a primitive fish processing operation on their family property in Reedville, Virginia. The brothers would sell the processed menhaden fish oil which was used as a standard fuel source and manufacturing purposes. During the 1920s the oil shifted markets due to the emergence of kerosene and petroleum as the dominant fuel sources. By 1947 the company began using spotter pilots to identify schools of fish. Approximately 10 years later the company introduces hydraulic power blocks onto ship vessels. Today product is now advertised as a source of improved health for plants, animals and humans.[2] The historical development of the menhaden fishing industry has been documented in John Frye's work The Men All Singing: The Story of Menhaden Fishing.[3]


  • 1903- John A. Haynie Company becomes Haynie, Snow and Company
  • 1913- Haynie, Snow and Company becomes Reedville Oil & Guano Company
  • 1966- Expansion into the Gulf o fMexico with the opening of processing facilities in LA & MS
  • 1968- Reedville Oil & Guano Company renames to Haynie Products, Inc.
  • 1970- Haynie Products, Inc. becomes Zapata Haynie Corporation after merger with Zapata Oil
  • 1994- Zapata Haynie Corporation renames to Zapata Protein
  • 1997- Zapata Protein goes public
  • 2002- Zapata Protein renames to Omega Protein[4]
  • 2010- Omega Protein acquires Cyvex Nutrition, Inc., a dietary supplement supplier[5]
  • 2011- Omega Protein acquires InCon Processing, L.L.C., a processor that uses molecular distillation technology[6]


Headquarters- Houston, Texas
Warehouses- Avondale, LA; Guntersville, AL; East Dubuque, IL; St. Louis, MO
Processing- Cameron, LA; Abbeville, LA; Moss Point, MS; Reedville, VA
Research- Omega Protein Health & Science Center in Reedville, VA and OmegaPure Technology and Innovation Center (OPTIC) in Houston, TX



  1. Spotter Planes- fly along the coast to identify schools of menhaden. Then the plane radios findings to the factory ship.
  2. Factory Ship- voyages over to the school of fish spotted by the plane. Launches two smaller vessels to collect the catch.
  3. Fishing vessels- the two smaller ships begin encircling the school of fish while dragging a purse seine.
  4. The factory Ship approaches the two vessels with the collected purse seine and begins taking on board all the fish within the net.
  5. The vessels return to the dock where the caught fish are unloaded for processing.
  • A Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) has been installed on 43 vessels in 4 different locations to monitor, survey and transmit data from vessels to shore.


The Atlantic menhaden are harvested along the coast of Virginia and parts of North Carolina. The menhaden reduction fishery is the largest fishery on the East Coast. The menhaden are managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which is an interstate agreement with the 15 Atlantic Coast states.


The Gulf menhaden are harvested along the coast of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Florida. The Gulf menhaden have a shorter life span than their Atlantic counterparts. The menhaden are managed by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC), which is a compact between the five Gulf states.


Fish Meal

  • Special Select
  • Natural Nautic
  • SeaLac

Fish Oil

  • Virginia Prime
  • OmegaEquis
  • SeaCide
  • OmegaPure
  • Crude Oil

Fish Soluble

  • OmegaGrow
  • OmegaGrow Plus
  • Neptune

Environmental Record


In 2008 Omega Protein receives certification from Friend of the Sea a non-profit, non-government organization that aims at conserving marine habitat.[7] The certification provided by the organization is conducted through an onsite monitoring project to approve sustainability in fisheries and aquaculture.[8] In 2009 Omega Protein received the Friend of the Sea Award for sustainability. The award is given to those whose target stocks cannot be considered overexploited, the company's fishing methods must not impact the seabed, and the company's fishing methods must not discard more than 8% in weight of their catch.[9]



An investigation by Greenpeace in 2007 found that Omega Protein's consumer fish oil brand, OmegaPure, contained excessive levels of PCBs, DDT and Dieldrin, all of which are recognized as carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency.[10] In 2010, a California environmentalist group filed a lawsuit against 8 popular fish oi l brands, including Omega Protein, asserting that their fish oil contained excessive levels of PCBs.[11] Omega Protein responded by asserting that their products were "in full compliance with all federal laws promulgated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, standards of the European Commission and the labeling requirements of California's Proposition 65 ... [and met] the rigorous standards for quality promulgated by both the Center for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3's (GOED)."[12]



2009 Omega Protein was accused of dumping fish waste water into the Chesapeake Bay. The dumping is said to be a contribution to the already existing dead zone problem. As a response Omega Protein rules this claim as fales and explains that Omega pulls water from the bay to cool teh fish. With the same water the ships pump the menhaden into the processing facility. The water is finally treated and pumped back to the ship in order to be released back into the bay.[13]


2008 Oil Spill

The BP oil spill affected Omega Protein's production of fish oil supplements. Omega Protein sued BP, claiming nearly 70% of their fish source came from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. They have filed for reimbursement from BP as a result.[14]

Net Accidents

On a variety of occasions, the purse-seine net will tear at the bottome due to various causes. When a tear does occur, large amounts of dead menhaden will sink to the floor only to be washed up onto the nearby beaches. When such an even happens, Omega Protein response by sending out a boat to collect the fish from the ocean. The company will also send out a team to clear the beaches of any dead fish that day as well as the following day.

2011 Collision and Sinking

On May 18, 2011 the F/V Sandy Point collided with a cargo vessel, Eurus London, which led to the Sandy Point taking on water and eventually sinking. Aboard the ship were 16 crew members, 3 of which died as a result of the accident.[15]

External Links


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