The menhaden fishing industry is one of America's oldest commercial industries, dating back as early as 1811. However, the first historical account of menhaden was referenced by the Pilgrims in the early 1700s, when indigenous people taught them to add menhaden to crops to enrich soil nutrients and produce more abundant yields.
Omega Protein originated with the Haynie family, some of the first Europeans to settle among the native inhabitants of Virginia's Northern Neck in the 1840s. Our 130-year history began in 1878, when John A. Haynie and his younger brother, Thomas, established a primitive fish processing operation on family property in Reedville, Virginia, today the site of Omega Protein's largest plant and refinery.
The Haynie brothers knew the value menhaden oil held for use in lamps, tanning and currying leather, paints and soap manufacturing—some of which are industries we support today. In a 1903 merger, John A. Haynie Company became Haynie, Snow & Company, and then in 1913, Reedville Oil and Guano Company.
Around this time, a dynamic economic shift occurred: Menhaden oil served as the standard fuel source in the manufacturing industry until the 1920s, when production preferences changed to kerosene and petroleum. That’s when we began selling menhaden oil and meal for its nutritional benefits to the animal feed industry and later, the functional food market.
The menhaden fishing industry evolved from a primitive operation in the early 1800s to embrace the use of spotter pilots in 1947 and hydraulic power blocks in 1956. Modernization and technology allowed for the expansion of our fishing operations to include the Gulf of Mexico in 1966, when we developed processing facilities along the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi.
In 1968, Reedville Oil and Guano Company was renamed Haynie Products, Inc., and in 1970, we merged with Zapata Oil to form Zapata Haynie Corporation. In 1994, Zapata was renamed Zapata Protein; with the change to Omega Protein following eight years later.
At Omega Protein, we are proud of our humble beginnings and committed to protecting the fishery that has provided us our livelihood for generations.