Category Archives: Caribbean

Into the Storm: The True Story of a Harrowing Ocean Rescue

The plane was cold and the engines were loud inside the cabin. Ben Cournia slipped in foam earplugs to drown out the noise. Tendrils of light were just starting to lace the morning clouds as the C-130 Hercules, gleaming white with the U.S. Coast Guard’s telltale orange bands near the cockpit and tail, climbed above Air Station Clearwater into the sky above Florida, heading south, then east. The heavy-browed Minnesotan glanced around the cabin, where guys were settling in for the three-hour flight to what had to be one of the loneliest outposts of the Coast Guard: a glorified sandbar otherwise known as Great Inagua Island, Bahamas. Their home for the last couple of weeks of September 2015. Cournia, 36 and married ten years, palmed his phone and looked at the last text from his wife: “Be safe,” she wrote. Video’s, Read the story here 15:21

National Marine Fisheries Service issues annual report on Fisheries of the United States, 2015

noaa nmfs logoThis publication is the annual National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) yearbook of fishery statistics for the United States for 2015. The report provides data on U.S. recreational catch and commercial fisheries landings and value as well as other aspects of U.S. commercial fishing. In addition, data are reported on the U.S. fishery processing industry, imports and exports of fishery-related products, and domestic supply and per capita consumption of fishery products. Information in this report came from many sources. Field offices of NMFS, with the generous cooperation of the coastal states and Regional Fishery Information Networks, collected and compiled data on U.S. commercial landings and processed fishery products. The NMFS Fisheries Statistics Division in Silver Spring, MD, managed the collection and compilation of recreational statistics, in cooperation with various States and Interstate Fisheries Commissions, and tabulated and prepared all data for publication. Sources of other data appearing in this publication are: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Read the press release here, Read the full report here 09:34

Boat owner describes devastation when his 42ft Bruno get’s ripped apart

The owner of a boat that was ripped apart in Bailey’s Bay by Hurricane Nicole has likened the ordeal to “losing a family member”. The storm not only tore apart Aldo Pace’s boat but also his livelihood as a commercial fisherman and with upwards of $300,000 worth of damage, he has no insurance to fall back on. Mr Pace, 62, got the 42ft Bruno Stillman fishing vessel about 25 years ago, using it for his charter business followed by offshore commercial fishing. He had wanted to take it out of the water but all the boat yards were full. Mr Pace had already called the insurance companies but they said they don’t provide storm cover for boats for Bailey’s Bay as it is a high-risk area. It left him no choice other than to tie down the boat as best he could and hope for the best. Read the story here 09:14

Fishing Industry faces tough times – Sam Parisi

manatthewheelUS Fishermen from all over are feeling the effects of NOAA and conservation groups that are making it very difficult for our fishing fleets on every coast. Every day there is anther obstacle for our fishermen, the most recent on the East Coast. President Obama has designated a large area of Cape Cod, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. I fished those waters back in the late 60,s for whiting and lobster. Fishermen depend on those deep waters for lobsters. Although the President, after up roars from the lobstermen, has given them seven years to vacate, in the end those lobstermen will lose their rich grounds. When does it end?  Every day some one else comes up with a brain storm and there are so many people out there that no idea of the effect, but think it is a good idea to protect whatever, not thinking of the harm to our fishermen. I believe the deck is stacked and our fishermen do not stand a chance to exist. We need help from our political leaders. I have heard over and over “we will help”, with good intentions but the fact remains NOAA holds all the cards. We have no say. We need political leader’s that will stand up to NOAA on our behalf, and follow through. We need help now. Here are the basic problems that need attention. Language written into MSA that would unlock the ironclad grip NOAA has on the “best available science” and accept other independent scientific data. SK Grant money needs to be removed from NOAA. Senator Sullivan of Alaska has such a bill pending and finally our fishermen should not have to pay for monitoring that is NOAA’s responsibility. Thanks for listing. Sam Parisi, Proud to be a fishermen. 19:24

Atlantic Hurricane Season: What to Expect In 2016

hurricaneColorado State University edged up its seasonal Atlantic hurricane forecast to 15, three more than in an average year. The new prediction is that six of those storms will become hurricanes and two will grow into major systems with winds of 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour or more before the season ends Nov. 30. The total includes the four storms that have developed already this year. “I still think we are looking at a near-average season,” Phil Klotzbach, the forecast’s lead author, said in a telephone interview. Klotzbach said the influences contributing to storm development are “a pretty mixed bag.” Odds are rising that a La Nina, a cooling of the equatorial Pacific, will develop later this year. That can influence weather patterns across the world and make it easier for storms to form in the Atlantic by cutting down on wind shear that can rip storms apart. To offset La Nina’s influence, air pressure across the basin has been higher than normal through June and at least one model shows those conditions could persist through a large part of the season. Read the rest here 11:53

U.S. Commerce Department announces 2016 regional fishery council appointments

commerceThe U.S. Commerce Department today announced the appointment of 19 new and returning members to the eight regional fishery management councils that partner with NOAA Fisheries to manage ocean fish stocks. One at-large seat on the Mid-Atlantic Council will be announced by the Secretary at a later date. The new and reappointed council members begin their three-year terms on August 11. Each year, the Secretary of Commerce appoints approximately one-third of the total 72 appointed members to the eight regional councils. The Secretary selects members from nominations submitted by the governors of fishing states, territories and tribal governments. Council members are appointed to both obligatory (state-specific) and at-large (regional) seats.  Council members serve a three-year term and can get reappointed to serve three consecutive terms. Asterisks preceding a member’s name indicate a reappointment. Read it here 17:24

Fishermen Using Experimental Lionfish Traps

Lionfish-Trap-with-lionfish-catch-Bermuda-June-10-2016The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is advising the public that several commercial fishermen will be using “experimental lionfish traps” this summer, and said boaters are asked to be careful to avoid these traps. Currently, traps are located east of St. David’s Head in approximately 25-28 fathoms [150-168ft] of water; however, traps will also be placed in other areas of the Bermuda Platform – South Shore, Southwest, East and North. Traps will be identified with flag buoys similar to those used on lobster traps. The lionfish traps are similar in design to lobster traps and have a fixed funnel so that large fish like groupers cannot get into the traps. They also have escape slots that allow smaller fish to get out but keep the lionfish in. Read the rest here 08:47

NOAA Office of Law Enforcement releases its first-ever Annual Report.

clip_image002_001From tackling seafood fraud nationally to helping crack down on illegal fishing internationally, we’re here to make sure that those who obey the rules reap the benefits of fair competition and an even playing field in the market. We protect marine resources and their habitat and help safeguard the health of seafood consumers and the livelihoods of coastal communities. OLE releases its first-ever Annual Report. Read the Report here 16:34

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Smoked herring connects Cap-Pelé to Haiti – A million cases each year to the impoverished country

For the past century, one of New Brunswick’s most enduring trade partnerships has been with one of the world’s poorest countries. The fishing village of Cap-Pelé has sold millions of crates of smoked herring to the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti. A Radio-Canada crew recently followed the trail, from the smokehouses in Cap-Pelé to the kitchens of Port-au-Prince. The sights, and especially the smells, of smoked herring are part of life in southeastern New Brunswick.  Read the rest here 11:18

El Faro Wreck Missing Bridge and Voyage Data Recorder

Image: Cargo ship El Faro missing in Hurricane JoaquinA major disappointment announced today in the investigation into the El Faro sinking with the NTSB now saying that the wreck of the ship was discovered with the navigation bridge missing and no sign of the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR). A salvage team onboard the contracted  has been using the Curve 21 remotely operated vehicle to confirm and document the wreckage initially found Saturday off the Bahamas at a depth of 15,000 feet was in fact the missing El Faro. Read the rest here 07:39

NTSB: Wreckage Believed to be Missing Ship El Faro Found

Image: Cargo ship El Faro missing in Hurricane JoaquinA search team on board a U.S. Navy tug has found what they believe is the wreckage of the missing American cargo ship El Faro in the search area off the Bahamas, the NTSB said in an update late Saturday. The vessel was located at a depth of about 15,000 feet in the vicinity of the last known position. The NTSB said the target identified is consistent with a 790-foot cargo ship, which from sonar images appears to be in an upright position and in one piece. Read the rest here 09:25

National Marine Fisheries Service yearbook of fishery statistics for the United States for 2014 is here!

nmfs_logoThe report provides data on U.S. recreational catch and commercial fisheries landings and value as well as other aspects of U.S. commercial fishing. In addition, data are reported on the U.S. fishery processing industry, imports and exports of fishery-related products, and domestic supply and per capita consumption of fishery products. The NMFS Fisheries Statistics Division in Silver Spring, MD, managed the collection and compilation of recreational statistics, in cooperation with various States and Interstate Fisheries Commissions, and tabulated and prepared all data for publication. Read the report here 13:39

NTSB Provides New Details from El Faro Investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday issued an update on its continuing investigation into the sinking of the El Faro cargo ship in the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas. Unlike the NTSB’s first report on El Faro investigation, which provided little to no new information on the accident, this new update offers a wealth of new information on a number of key areas in the investigation, including the safety and maintenance of the vessel, the ship’s propulsion, the ill-fated voyage and weather forecast, the last communication from the ship,,, Read the rest here 08:41

Sunscreen is proven toxic to coral reefs

Lathering up with sunscreen may prevent sunburn and protect against cancer, but it is also killing coral reefs around the world. That’s the conclusion of a team of international scientists, which includes University of Central Florida professor and diving enthusiast John Fauth. The researchers found that oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound, is in high concentrations in the waters around the more popular coral reefs in Hawaii, and the Caribbean. The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval,,, Read the rest here 19:40

28 Americans aboard cargo ship missing off Bahamas after hurricane

Image: Cargo ship El Faro missing in Hurricane JoaquinThe crew of the El Faro, 28 from the U.S. and five from Poland, reported that the ship was listing at 15 degrees before they lost contact with authorities as the ship passed near the lightly populated Crooked Island at the height of the storm. The vessel carried 685 containers and had an EPIRB on board, which transmits distress signals. An initial ping was received Thursday morning, but no new ones have followed,,, Read the rest here 14:09

Who’s really in charge of U.S. fisheries? – Nils Stolpe, FishnetUSA

An Oligarchy is defined as “a country, business, etc., that is controlled by a small group of people” –  Ancient City Shrimp is an eight minute YouTube video (Click here) produced by the St. Augustine Lighthouse Museum that examines St. Augustine’s past as one of several centers of commercial shrimping in Florida. Unfortunately – or perhaps tragically is a better fit – Florida’s shrimp fleet is only a shadow of what it once was. One of the reasons for this is the imposition of unrealistic regulations on U.S. shrimpers that has made the fishery much less profitable than it used to be. A history lesson or two. Read the rest here 16:27

Making the Seas Safer for Fishermen

After Congress passed the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act, which updated fishing industry safety standards for the first time since 1988, activists like Bartlett were grateful their concerns were being taken seriously: Life rafts would be improved, safety training would become mandatory for fishing captains, and new boats would be built to standards set and verified by independent third parties called “class societies.” But almost five years after the law’s passage, the Coast Guard has yet to translate many of its requirements into enforceable rules. Read the rest here 17:57

US Customs seizes bladders from endangered fish being shipped from Venezuela to China

U.S. officials in Puerto Rico have seized a load of fish bladders taken from an endangered species and stuffed inside packages that were shipped from Venezuela and destined for Hong Kong. Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection have seized 1,328 pounds of totoaba fish bladders. The swim bladders from the fish indigenous to Mexico’s Gulf of California are prized by chefs in China. The parcels with the bladders were labeled as “organic plastic samples.” Customs officials turned them over to the NOAA. Read the rest here 07:41

Department of Commerce announces 2015 regional fishery council appointments

The U.S. Commerce Department today announced the appointment of 30 new and returning members to the eight regional fishery management councils that partner with NOAA, and National Marine Fisheries Service to manage ocean fish stocks. The new and reappointed council members begin their three-year terms on August 11. Read the rest here 15:25

Young dismisses White House Magnuson-Stevens veto threat

No FishingPresident Barack Obama’s administration gave an early promise to stop Rep. Don Young’s changes to national fishing laws before the bill has even seen the light of a full House discussion. “The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1335, which would amend the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), because it would impose arbitrary and unnecessary requirements that would harm the environment and the economy,” reads the statement of administration policy released May 19. Read the rest here 11:40

U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Advances Fisheries Law

“And we’re trying to maintain the integrity of the original act by adding some smaller changes, and (among) the smaller changes are flexibility,”  (Don Young) told the committee. The bill has alarmed some fishermen and conservationists. “We don’t think the changes they put in the act are really likely to have any effect on how we manage fisheries in the North Pacific,” (Chris) Oliver NPFMC said. “I think it could allow for some legitimate flexibility  in other regions — and even perhaps in future situations in the North Pacific — without eroding the basic underlying conservation measures” of the law. Audio Read the rest here 07:53

Conch remains on the menu, no harvesting

National Marine Fisheries Service will not list queen conch on the endangered species list, but harvest of it in United States waters will remain prohibited. In March 2012, the environmental group Wild Earth Guardians requested the federal government list queen conch under the Endangered Species Act. Florida Keys State Rep. Holly Raschein successfully pushed a bill that called on the federal government to maintain the importation of queen conch. Read the rest here 12:52

‘Wicked Tuna’ may be as good as it gets this winter – The Bermuda perspective

 The show basically follows the lives of several boat crews, all of whom fish on boats based in the fishing seaport of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Apart from contributing significantly to National Geographic’s share of the television audience, tourism in this town, about 50 miles from Boston, has enjoyed a boom based on the series. Read more here 14:05

Spanish Wells Fishing Industry in Serious Decline says Association – Dominican and US poachers a problem.

(Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, Bahamas) – The commercial fishing community in Spanish Wells has seen a downward trend in their ‘catch’ for the past four to five years, said, President of the Spanish Wells FishingRead the rest here  14:29

Coast Guard: Investigations underway in 110-foot cutter collision that sank fishing vessel

CG collides with FV Sea Shepherd“Though they’ll be looking into the same incident, the three investigations have different purposes and are clear and distinct from each other” said Captain Mike Zamperini, deputy commander, Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “Public service requires transparency and, if warranted, accountability, which we will ensure through these investigations.” Read the rest here 10:18

Coast Guard cutter crashes into, sinks fishing boat

CG collides with FV Sea ShepherdST. THOMAS – A 110-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter drove into a 42-foot commercial fishing boat Tuesday morning, sinking the boat but miraculously leaving no one injured.  Two men, Capt. Winston Ledee, 57, and Kenneth Turbe, 30, were fishing for lobster in Ledee’s vessel, the  when the San Juan-based cutter “Key Largo” smashed into the fishing,,, Read the rest here  06:50

Coast Guard cutter involved in collision with fishing vessel off Puerto Rico

CG collides with FV Sea ShepherdSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard is investigating a collision Tuesday between the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo and the 42-foot commercial fishing vessel, Sea Shepherd, approximately nine nautical miles east northeast of Vieques, Puerto Rico. Read the rest here 14:59

In Depth: Powered by capital and its desire for profit – The Global Ocean Grab: A Primer

GPO Global Partnership for OceansIn this primer the most important questions regarding the effects and mechanisms of ocean grabbing are answered. It contains all you need to know to get a good grasp of important processes and dynamics surrounding ocean grabbing. Read the rest here.  10:09

Eastern Caribbean whalers follow a 139-year-old tradition, now under siege – Why? Because the Eco Evangelicals need to feel good.

Gaston Bess, “Whaling is a tradition around Bequia,” he says. “We will continue to whale, and we’ll continue the tradition.” Sue Fisher, an animal advocate with the Washington-based Animal Welfare Institute, hopes St. Vincent’s license won’t be renewed again. “They are not able to demonstrate a long-standing need for whale meat. They like it, they eat it, but it’s not meeting any nutritional subsistence needs. They are not struggling for protein.” Read more here 07:40