- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - Tens of thousands of dead fish have washed up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore after a net recently tore during menhaden harvesting.

Omega Protein Corp. alerted the Virginia Marine Resources Commission of the tear on Oct. 7. The company estimates it lost about 75,000 fish, media outlets reported.

“They reported it to us promptly and kept us informed,” commission spokeswoman Laurie Naismith said.

The fish began washing ashore over the weekend. Naismith said Omega mobilized a cleanup crew, which worked to clean up the dead fish at the company’s cost.

In a statement released Monday, the company apologized to anyone negatively impacted by the incident.

The company said a boat was fishing in the Chesapeake Bay when the net hung on an obstruction on the bottom and tore with the dead menhaden still in it.

Despite cleanup efforts, thousands of menhaden carcasses lined the beach Monday at Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve in Northampton County. There were also reports of dead fish littering the beach at Cape Charles over the weekend.

“The cleanup operations have been hampered by the remoteness of the location and the spread-out nature of where the fish came ashore,” the company said in the release.

Omega Protein is a century-old nutritional product company with eight manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada and Europe. The company operates more than 30 fishing vessels to harvest menhaden.

Omega did not immediately respond to the Daily Times of Salisbury’s request for comment on the cleanup.

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