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Sun writer overstates threat to menhaden

As Candus Thomson's days as an outdoor writer are numbered, she seems determined to take more shots (some cheaper than others) at commercial fishermen, and the menhaden industry in particular. Having worked as both a journalist and a commercial fisherman, I refuse to let her broadsides go unanswered.

If you believe Ms. Thomson's recent Outdoors Girl blog entry, ("Rachel Maddow, the Atlantic infrastructure needs you," Aug. 9), a menhaden plant with 300 employees and its hired gun lobbyists are holding an entire ecosystem hostage.

While the Reedville fishing fleet represents an easy target, there's no way 10 menhaden boats (fanning out from Rhode Island to the Carolinas) are the ultimate threat to the bunker population. Has Ms. Thomson even noticed that these boats have spent very little time in the Chesapeake Bay this year? I guess that fact has no place in a blog geared toward sporting interests rather those wearing oilskins and boots.

Menhaden lobbyists are a nickel and dime operation when held next to the lobbyists and lawyers working for big developers and homebuilders in the watershed. These interests are virtually untouchable and have done more to kill the bay's resources than the Chesapeake's working watermen. Commercial fishermen have nothing to do with those Chesapeake Bay dead zones, but they must live with the consequences. The Sun's outdoor writer gives scant coverage of this reality.

The menhaden industry (not just the one based in Reedville) hires lobbyists because it's required for survival. But throughout its history, the industry has worked with regulators on environmental matters —including the passage of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.

I realize blog entries and dwindling column inches provide little space for a complete discussion on this matter, but Ms. Thomson would better serve her public if her prose didn't read like Coastal Conservation Association talking points.

Alfred M. Biddlecomb, Lorton, Va.

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