Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Nitrogen from sewage and farms is starving Florida corals to death, study says

Nitrogen from improperly treated sewage and fertilizer runoff from farms and lawns is starving Florida Keys corals to death, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Biology. The study led by Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Looe Key, in the Florida Keys, showed that higher nutrient. levels in Florida waters is a key cause of coral bleaching and death. As nutrient runoff from farming and from a growing population increases the amount of nitrogen levels in the water, corals are actually dying before >click to read<15:56

Cape Coral fishing captain admits illegal grouper, snapper hauls, federal prosecutors say

A Cape Coral fishing boat captain faces possible federal prison time after admitting in federal court Monday that he illegally caught and sold 50,000 pounds of red grouper and red snapper over five years, in defiance of Gulf of Mexico limits. Federal prosecutors said Mark Zywotko lied about the size of his boat’s haul of the grouper and snapper in reports fishing boats must file reporting catches of some popular and protected gulf reef fish. >click to read< 12:40

Commercial fishermen along Gulf Coast take another hit after Hurricane Barry

Gulf Coast commercial fishermen have taken another hit this season after Hurricane Barry struck Louisiana and Mississippi shores. Indeed, strong winds and rain from the Category 1 storm forced vessels to remain docked for days. That was the case for Floyd Lesseigne of Grand Isle, La. The commercial fishermen, who has two boats that he takes out to harvest crabs, shrimp and oysters, said he and many others were forced out of the water early last week. Video, >click to read< 19:27

Untested Waters: Feds take small steps toward inspecting more seafood

In hopes of making a dent in safety issues associated with the growing amount of foreign seafood coming into the United States, the federal government recently announced two changes: a new safety strategy and $3.1 million of additional funding. Longtime shrimper George Barisich had just come in from Breton Sound off the Gulf of Mexico after five days and four nights on the water. With him were two crew members and 3,500 pounds of fresh shrimp. Imaginably tired, Barisich, 63, was still eager to talk about the industry on which he was raised – an industry he said keeps changing. Video, >click to read< 14:19

Tropical Storm Barry – Coast Guard reopens Port of New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard captain of the port for Sector New Orleans cancelled port condition Zulu and set port conditions normal as of 6 a.m. Sunday, allowing vessel movement into and out of the river and the Port of New Orleans with some restrictions. Specific information about Port of New Orleans restrictions can be viewed on the Coast Guard homeport webpage,,, Early preparation and communication between federal, state, local, and industry partners helped minimize the potential for damage in the New Orleans Captain of the Port zone. >click to read< 12:29

Barry strengthens into category 1 hurricane; Gulf Coast braces for impact

As power outages continued to mount across Louisiana Saturday morning, Barry continued to intensifying and strengthened into a category 1 hurricane as it churned toward the Gulf Coast, threatening millions with flooding and damaging winds. Barry is the first hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, and only the fourth hurricane to ever to make landfall on the Louisiana coast in the month of July.  >click to read<14:07

Tropical Storm Barry Brings Shrimp Fishing to Halt in U.S. Gulf

Shrimp fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico were docking ships and tying down equipment as Tropical Storm Barry strengthened while heading to the Louisiana coast. The storm is likely to disrupt fresh catches of shrimp for a day or more, C. David Veal, executive director of the American Shrimp Processors Association in Biloxi, Mississippi, said on Friday.,,, Many processors, retailers and restaurants have ample supplies of shrimp and other seafood in freezers. Those supplies would be threatened by a sustained power outage. >click to read< 19:15

Port Fourchon orders mandatory evacuation

Port Fourchon issued a mandatory evacuation order of all remaining personnel this morning with the approach of Tropical Storm Barry. All of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission’s offices are scheduled to close by noon. Rainfall totals of 10-20 inches have been forecast with a 3-6 foot storm surge. The port’s expecting to see tropical storm force winds today with the potential for isolated tornados. No road closures have been announced so far. The heaviest rain from Tropical Storm Barry is expected to take place between Friday night and Sunday morning. An emergency storm harbor marina is open to commercial fishing vessels on a first-come, first-serve basis. >click to read< 11:52

It’s business as usual! Commercially Caught Wild American Shrimp From Gulf of Mexico Remain Safe to Eat

For the commercial wild-caught shrimp industry in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s business as usual. In spite of reports coming out of the Gulf of Mexico about a freshwater influx due to flooding in the Midwest, along with some resulting, close-to-shore algae blooms, commercial shrimp processors are reporting that this year, though volumes are lower, shrimp quality and size are good as ever. “The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) is continuing to test water and fish samples to ensure seafood safety in Mississippi waters,” said MDMR Executive Director Joe Spraggins. >click to read< 08:41

Storm strengthens in Gulf of Mexico as it races to Louisiana

A mass of thunder and rain in the Gulf of Mexico could become Tropical Storm Barry on Thursday and hit Louisiana as a hurricane this weekend, worsening flooding in New Orleans and causing almost $1 billion in damage. The system, which was about 115 miles (185 kilometers) southeast of the Mississippi River’s mouth as of 8 a.m. New York time, has already curbed energy production in the Gulf and helped lift oil prices to a seven-week high. It’s also prompted Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency, while hurricane and tropical storm watches are in place along the state’s coastline. The storm — with current top speeds of 35 miles an hour — may drop as much as 20 inches of rain in some places. >click to read< 15:08

Louisiana lawmakers request disaster aid for seafood industry

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. and John Kennedy and U.S. Representatives Steve Scalise , Garret Graves, Cedric Richmond, Clay Higgins, Ralph Abraham and Mike Johnson today urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to begin the process of implementing a federal fisheries disaster declaration due to the opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. Opening of the spillway is causing hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of fresh water to pour into Lake Pontchartrain each second, impacting various forms of aquatic life that are crucial to Louisiana’s seafood industry. >click to read< 07:42 >Click to read< the full text of the Louisiana delegation’s

Oystermen say closures of prime harvest areas was inevitable

St. Bernard fishermen say the state health department made the right call this week with the closure of three main harvest areas. As they struggle to make ends meet they say it’s important to move quickly to save what’s left. Oyster boats that should have been out were instead tied to a Hopedale dock that would normally be bustling Friday (July 5). Two days earlier, the state announced a closure of three oyster zones, which longtime oyster fisherman Van Robin said shut down one of the most productive regions in the world. “The most highly productive areas, they’re closing it, because the oysters are dying in that area. >click to read< 00:02

Water conditions causing ‘catastrophic’ season for in-shore and near-shore shrimpers

The Bonnet Carre Spillway has been open for 100 days as of Friday and the influx of freshwater still pouring into the Mississippi Sound is taking a major toll on coast fishermen. The shrimp season opened two weeks ago but, by most accounts, the freshwater in the Mississippi Sound is making it a season to forget for those who make their living on the water.  Shrimpers are having to adjust where they drop their nets, said David Veal director of American Shrimp Processors Association. Video, >click to read< 14:56

A ‘volcano’ of oil is flowing in the gulf. This ex-fisherman is trying to contain it.

Timmy Couvillion first saw the oil plume at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico more than two months ago, but the memory still makes his skin crawl. His small marine construction company had been hired by the U.S. Coast Guard for its biggest job in years: containing the longest offshore spill in American history. To prepare for the work, his crew dropped a submersible robot 450 feet below the ocean surface to view the source of the pollution through its cyclops eye. The pictures it sent back were chilling. A hole as wide as a basketball court had opened on the sea floor and thousands of gallons of Louisiana sweet crude gushed through,,, >click to read< 19:50

Workshop aims to get more women to fish

Women make up just a quarter of the fishing licenses that the department sells each year. Around the country, only about 34 percent of people who participate in any kind of fishing are women, according to a report published in 2018 by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation.,,, David said the department holds the workshop about twice a year, though she wished they could do it every weekend.,,, 43 photo’s, >click to read< 12:09

Shrimp boat at Gautier dry dock catches fire again

A shrimp boat that caught fire and burned for hours this spring in Gautier went up in flames again Friday morning. “The Noah” caught fire Friday morning at Pitalo’s boat yard, where it is dry-docked. This is the second time the boat has been in flames. On April 9, it burned for nearly 20 hours before firefighters were able to put it out. >click yo read < 21:32

TV crabber nets Conch Key lodge, marina

“Deadliest Catch” crabber Erik James didn’t just check into a room at the Bayview Inn Motel & Marina, he bought all 11 rooms, the bay bottom and the four parcels the hotel sits on. He has rebranded it as the Conch Key Inn & Marina and given it a funky, tropical motif of at least five different colors. “I painted it all bright colors so people can see it, and I’m going to build the gnarliest place in town,” he said. “As everything else around changes, I want this place to stay as a real fishing village and a place where locals can come and have a beer, be comfortable and bring their dog.” >click to read<17:27

Expanding Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico is Causing High Anxiety Among Shrimpers

For Tran, it is an adventure. For his family, it is a trade they had known in Vietnam before they made their way to Port Arthur, Texas after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Tran and his family of shrimpers have faced many challenges created by mother nature. The latest weather-related problem in the Gulf is a giant dead zone predicted to grow to a near record in coming weeks. “It’s not good,” said Tran.,,, The dead zone is an area of ocean containing little to no oxygen. It is a phenomenon that typically peaks in the summer and dissipates in the winter. However, this summer’s dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is predicted to be unusually large,,, Video, >click to read< 14:10

A Forage Fish War – Canadian company targets critical forage fish in Atlantic and Gulf

The two U.S. menhaden fisheries are in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf,,, Omega Proteins, headquartered in Canada, has sought certification that the fishery is sustainable.,, Now it has sought the same certification in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a joint statement from the American Sportfishing Association, the Coastal Conservation Association, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.,, “The ASA, Theodore Roosevelt , and CCA, have formally objected, That steep price (of MSC certification) caused Sport Fish Magazine writer Doug Olander to pen a satirical op-ed,,,That prompted a swift backlash by Omega Proteins, “According to the ASMFC [Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission], Striped Bass are overfi…>click to read<17:23

Florida Commercial fishermen can apply for Hurricane Irma assistance

Twenty-one months after Hurricane Irma, the funds are in place to begin restoring the losses of commercial fishermen in the Keys. The Florida Wildlife Commission has $44.6 million that will be available for marine fisheries assistance. The first step, according to the state agency, is for commercial fishermen to register in two places: Commercial fishermen — from coastal counties in Florida from Dixie County to Monroe County on the west coast and Nassau County to Miami-Dade County on the east coast — are urged to complete these steps by July 10, 2019. >Click to read<12:08

MSA reauthorization still stalled with 2018 House bill expired

More than a decade has passed since the last reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act was signed into law, but the latest effort has stalled in Congress. The act, originally passed in 1974, is the nation’s landmark legislation on federal fisheries policy. In the intervening years, Congress has passed a number of reauthorizations, most recently in 2006, tweaking language and adding provisions. The House passed HR 200, sponsored by Rep. Don Young, in July 2018. However, it never progressed through the Senate and thus expired at the end of the 115th Congress. >click to read<11:13

Mississippi’s shrimp season will open Thursday. It doesn’t look good.

Mississippi’s shrimp season will open this Thursday, June 20 at 6am, despite samples showing smaller shrimp than typical for opening day. That’s the decision from Tuesday’s Commission on Marine Resources meeting. It’s not a cause for celebration though. It’s more of a sign of desperation. Usually, the legal count for shrimp must be 68 shrimp per pound before the season is opened. Right now, samples are showing 112,,, Experts also report that brown shrimp reproduction is down 90%. “I don’t think it really matters. I think the situation now is only getting worse, so why don’t we take the best we can? The only chance we have now is to allow our shrimpers to have some chance to have a life this year,” said Joe Spraggins, the director of the Department of Marine Resources. >click to read<19:36

Floods in Midwest take toll on seafood in Gulf Coast area

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards have asked the federal government for a fisheries disaster declaration,,, Louisiana’s oyster harvest is 80% below average,,, “We’ve been dealing with the river since October,” said Acy J. Cooper Jr., president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association “That’s a long time it’s been high.” The die-offs are as bad in Mississippi.,, Shrimp are now in places only larger boats can reach, said Cooper. “Some of the big ones are catching a few,” he said. “The smaller boats are just catching hell.” >Video, click to read< 18:05

Gov. Edwards Requests Federal Declaration of a Fisheries Disaster in Louisiana

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today that he has requested a federal fisheries disaster declaration for Louisiana from the U.S. Department of Commerce following impacts of the spring flood flight on the fishing industry in Louisiana. Troubling mortality rates among oysters, declining fish catches and the financial damage to the livelihoods of those in the fishing industry caused by floodwaters rushing from the Bonnet Carré Spillway were among the reasons for the request, which Gov. Edwards outlined in a letter to Wilbur Ross, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. >click to read<16:18

Updated – Letter: Gulf Seafood industry hampered by spillway opening

Gulf seafood harvesters need federal disaster recovery funding to ease the suffering caused by the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.,, In a letter to the U.S. secretary of commerce, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant stated that 70% of the Mississippi Sound’s already imperiled oyster population is estimated to be dead, with the crab catch down by 35%. Shrimp season in Mississippi, which usually begins in June, will also be affected. >click to read<14:36

Gov. Edwards Requests Federal Disaster Declaration for Flooded Fisheries – >click to read<

A Fishery Management Proposal

Its frustrating to watch fish regulators on the various fishery management councils continuously cut back on fishermen allocations with no regard for how they will make up for the “scientific” decision that takes revenue from them. I have reached out to various politicians to create a Farm Bill for fishermen, which would be a huge undertaking for the Congress, and in the current political climate, it seems like an impossible task, even though it is needed. In the meantime, the mismanagement continues, and people are pushed closer to exit the industry, which is unacceptable. What I am proposing is to correct this and mitigate the damage caused by the cutback is legislation. This is what I would like to see. Sam Parisi >click to read<12:16

Eric Schwaab Comes Aboard as New Head of EDF’s Oceans Program

“Eric was critical to the success we achieved during my time as NOAA Administrator,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, University Distinguished Professor, Oregon State University and former EDF Board Trustee. “His unflappable get-it-done approach makes him notably effective working with a range of stakeholders from fishermen to global leaders.” As head of NMFS, Schwaab led the transformation of U.S. fisheries management including widespread adoption of science-based catch limits and catch shares. EDF was a leading advocate for these reforms, which have driven a dramatic recovery of fish populations and increased catch and profits for fishermen. >click tp read<10:02

The power to open Bonnet Carré spillway rests 200 miles from ‘struggling’ Gulf Coast

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opens the Bonnet Carré to prevent Mississippi River flooding in New Orleans, but Coast residents on less populated shores of South Mississippi and Louisiana feel the fallout. The fresh, polluted water floods Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi Sound. For the first time in history, the spillway has opened two years in a row — 2018 and 2019 — and two times in one year — 2019.  Dolphins and oysters are dying. Shrimp are disappearing. Fish are covered in lesions. And the oxygen-starved Dead Zone, documented annually in the Gulf of Mexico, is expected this summer to be the size of Massachusetts, which is close to the 2017 record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. Video, photo’s >click to read<10:23

The Jubilee: Mobile Bay’s Summer Seafood Phenomenon

He can try to tell it to you, tell how Mobile Bay goes calm and slick just before dawn, how the tide pushes in beneath a gentle easterly breeze that just smells different—like salt. He can tell how the mixing salt water from the Gulf of Mexico and fresh water from the Mobile-Tensaw Delta to the north just fracture somehow in that great, warm, stagnant pool and a heavier, saltier layer, low in oxygen, sinks to the bottom of the bay.,,, “I grew up with an old man—we called him ‘The Duke’—and he taught me a lot of what I know about the brackish water and the nature of fish,,, >click to read<10:10

‘A major punch in the gut’: Midwest rains projected to create Gulf dead zone

As rain deluged the Midwest this spring, commercial fisherman Ryan Bradley knew it was only a matter of time before the disaster reached him. All that water falling on all that fertilizer-enriched farmland would soon wend its way through streams and rivers into Bradley’s fishing grounds in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Mississippi coast. The nutrient excess would cause tiny algae to burst into bloom, then die, sink, and decompose on the ocean floor. That process would suck all the oxygen from the water, turning it toxic. Fish would suffocate, or flee, leaving Bradley and his fellow fishermen with nothing to harvest. >click to read<21:12