Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville sets port condition Whiskey for Port of Jacksonville, Fernandina for Tropical Storm Ian

Effective 8 p.m. Saturday, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Jacksonville (COTP) set port condition Whiskey for the Port of Jacksonville and Fernandina due to the earliest Tropical Strom Fore Winds arriving within 72 hours. These ports and facilities are currently open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue while Whiskey remains in effect. If and when port condition Yankee is set, meaning sustained Tropical Storm Force winds are expected within 24 hours, vessel movement shall be restricted, and all movement must be approved by the caption of the port. The Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages: >click to read< 07:32

Shrimp boat found capsized in Lake Pontchartrain; 1 dead, 1 injured

U.S. Coast Guard members found a capsized shrimp boat with two boaters, one dead and one injured in Lake Pontchartrain Thursday morning, according to a social media post by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. The boat was found between the Interstate 10 twin span bridges near the St. Tammany-Orleans parish line, according to the post. The Sheriff’s Office Marine Division was notified at 5:15 a.m. that a 21-foot blue shrimping skiff that was seen launching at about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Pointe Marina in Slidell was overdue to return, with the truck and boat trailer still at the marina. >click to read< 12:25

LDWF Agents Investigating Boating Fatality in St. Tammany ParishVictim Identified. The body of Ricky Hodgson, 72, of Pearl River, was recovered from Lake Pontchartrain around 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 22. Agents learned that Hodgson and another passenger on the boat were recreationally trawling for shrimp in Lake Pontchartrain near the twinspans when their trawl was stuck around midnight. >click to read< 17:15

Louisiana Shrimpers want lobbyist to help voice their concerns in Washington

The Louisiana Shrimp Association is fighting back against imported shrimp and their goal is to save their livelihood. They want their voices to be heard in Washington D.C. and in Baton Rouge. President of the L.S.A., Acy Cooper, said they have had a lot of issues in the industry. “The prices went from four dollars a pound down to a dollar twenty. It is getting dyer need. We have been screaming and hollering. This task force has been together since two thousand and ten. We can’t get anybody in Washington to do the job that we need.” >click to read< 07:49

1 of every 70 jobs in Louisiana is in seafood. Many of those in them are still struggling a year after Ida

Stacks of crab traps and fishing nets lay idle on the shoreline. Occasionally, there is the whir of a propeller, which barely registers above the sound of wildlife, puttering as it pushes a boat around debris on the bottom of the bayou. Gone, for the most part, is the constant sound of diesel engines turning over and the salty language of the fishermen loading and unloading the catch of the day. Many of the docks, including the 200-foot dock that has been in Randy Nunez’s family for 71 years, won’t return. “It looks like a ghost town. It’s hard to see. The bayous are empty. The boats are tied up. The shrimp prices are too low,” Nunez said as he sat on the side of the bayou near what used to be one of the largest docks in the area. “Before you’d see boats coming out and boats coming in. Boats were constantly passing on the bayou.” >click to read< 09:33

Something’s fishy: NOAA urges vigilance after catching fraudulent fishing permit site

NOAA fisheries issued a Notice of fraudulent alert Friday over a website that claimed to process both federal and state fishing permits. It calls itself the Commercial Fishing Permits Center and depending on the permit you want, charges different fees. However, NOAA said the site is in no way affiliated with NOAA or any State. They advise the public to not use the site when applying for a State of federal fishery permit. Links, >click to read< 12:09

Ida grounded this shrimper’s boat, then thieves raided it. Now a fundraiser aims to help.

Rita Verdin of Golden Meadow said her husband, Rodney, returns to the marsh to check on his boat, La Belle Idee, and each week finds more is missing. She estimates thieves have stolen about $20,000 so far, including the propeller, rudder, generator and other electronics. Rita said she reached out to the news industry after the family couldn’t find help anywhere else. Hearing the news, Lt. Gov. Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board reached out to New Orleans Chef Amy Sins, who is also president of Fill the Needs, a nonprofit that aids with ongoing hurricane-recovery efforts. >click to read< 17:32 >click here Hurricane Ida- Louisiana Shrimper – Fill the Needs and please donate if you can.

Florida Keys spiny lobster industry hit by housing crisis, labor shortage

Living where you work in Florida is a real problem for thousands of state residents, and it’s causing problems across industries. Harvesting spiny lobster, also known as the rock lobster, is bigger in the Keys than in most places, but folks can’t get crews to fully staff their boats. “Keys housing is too expensive for crew members to typically live, so they’re having to commute from places like Homestead, Florida, all the way out to the Keys. The fishermen really talked a lot about how important it is to have knowledgeable crew on these boats to make sure you’re avoiding citations.” A silver lining on the labor issue is that while older fishers are getting out of the fishery, experts are seeing more younger fishers coming in. >click to read< 14:20

Commercial Lobster Season off to a Good Start as Keys Fishermen Deal with Increased Materials and Gas Prices

The Upper Keys boats have been “killing it,” with lobsters spilling out of containers onto decks, crews have been coming back to the docks earlier in the day due to lack of storage on the boats. However, in the Middle and Lower Keys, less product is being found. But this year, no matter how many “bugs” are hauled in, the chatter among all the boats is that overhead is biting into profits and thank goodness, the Chinese are buying. “The harvest is OK. Not fantastic, but it’s good,” George Niles told Keys Weekly. He has been fishing out of Stock Island for 50 years. “But we’re getting two dollars less per pound than this time last year. Traps are $50 to $60 apiece, compared to $35 three years ago. And fuel is $2 more than when Biden was elected. And that’s pure profit.” >click to read< 08:43

Shrimper hit by thieves after Hurricane Ida stranded his boat

A Lafourche Parish shrimper said Tuesday he is left with nowhere to turn, as thieves have begun cannibalizing his fishing vessel that was washed aground more than a year ago by Hurricane Ida. Rodney Verdin’s boat the F/V La Belle Idee remains stranded in the marshes of Golden Meadow. “It’s selfish of people to take advantage of us when we’re already down,” Rodney’s wife Rita Verdin said. Rodney has been a commercial shrimper in Golden Meadow for most of his life. He grew up in a nearby camp, generations old, from which he later ran his business, until Ida wiped it off the map. “That’s my life, that’s my whole business,” he said. “I can’t really do anything else. I’m almost too old to go find another job. Trying to do what I can … we aren’t giving up hope.” >click to read< 07:09

Ecuador signs agreement with FDA to facilitate more shrimp imports into the US

An agreement between the United States and Ecuador could impact Alabama’s seafood capital, Bayou La Batre. Officials said the agreement is to help facilitate growth of shrimp exports to the U.S. “It’s really going to affect us a lot more. Shrimp prices are already low, fuel prices are high. It’s going to hurt the fishing industry more than anything,” Local shrimper Trey Bonin said. “It’s crazy. I guess President Joe Biden can sign some paperwork to forgive all the boat loans and the loans that the shrimp shops have to take out. Like he’s doing for the college folks,” Bayou La Batre Mayor Henry Barnes said. Video, >click to read< 10:24

Catch Shares Enable Wealthy Landlords to Gobble Up Local Fisheries

A recent investigative report has reignited public discussion over catch shares, a controversial approach to fisheries management that privatizes the rights to fish. The investigation exposed how Blue Harvest Fisheries, owned by a billionaire Dutch family, became the largest holder of commercial fishing rights in New England, benefiting from lax antitrust regulations and pilfering profits from the local fishermen who work under them. As a commercial fisherman in Mississippi, I know these dynamics go well beyond New England. Here in the Gulf of Mexico, private equity firms and other large investors have come in and gobbled up the rights to fish, driving up the cost of fishing access and making it prohibitively expensive for fishermen like me to harvest fish in our own backyards. >click to read< 07:55

Boothville Man Cited For Commercial Fishing Violations in Plaquemines Parish

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a Boothville man for alleged commercial fishing violations in Plaquemines Parish on Aug. 23. Agents cited Webley L. Bourgeois, 47, for taking commercial fish without a commercial license and taking commercial fish without a gear license.  Bourgeois had his licenses revoked in March of 2021 due to unpaid taxes. In 2022, Bourgeois sold a total of 51,891 pounds of shrimp, and 6,223 pounds of sheepshead all taken without the required commercial fishing license and gear license.  All sales were obtained by trip tickets Bourgeois filed with LDWF. >click to read< 13:27

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a Delcambre man for alleged shrimping violations

Agents cited Jimmie Dupre Jr., 48, for failing to return serviceable trap to the water, trawling inside waters with oversized nets, taking commercial fish without a commercial gear license and vessel license. Agents were on patrol in West Cote Blanche Bay when they encountered a Dupre Jr. operating a shrimping vessel.  During an inspection, agents found that Dupre Jr. did not possess a commercial gear license or vessel license.  He was also in possession of two trawls that were over the legal size limit of 25 foot long and two serviceable crab traps on the deck of the vessel. Agents seized two shrimp trawls, two crab traps, one shrimping vessel on seizure order and 1,943 pounds of shrimp. >click to read< 10:45

Commercial fishermen sounding alarm about snapper stocks

If you had asked me five years ago if I was worried about red snapper populations in Texas, I would have said “no.” But I’m not that optimistic today. Fishery managers have gotten complacent, forgotten where we came from and have put self-interests above conservation and sustainability. Our fish stocks are in decline, our commercial fishing voices are being squashed and our fishery managers are playing politics with our livelihoods. We expect fair representation at the decision-making table. What do we have instead? Only one truly commercial fishing representative on the 17-member Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. >click to read< 10:52

Gulf shrimpers brace for offshore wind

Trae Cooper risks punctures to the fiberglass hull of his grandfather’s boat every time he pulls out into the gray waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Trawling for shrimp that swim along Louisiana’s muddy coast means coexisting with the forgotten pipelines, corroded steel, gnawed plastic and bits of iron that the oil industry left behind as it marched gradually through these marshes and out to sea. And that’s why Cooper, 39, and many shrimpers in the region say they know enough to worry as a new industry crops up in the Gulf of Mexico: offshore wind. >click to read< 07:40

Shrimp boat catches fire in Walton County

A shrimp boat caught fire Tuesday afternoon in Walton County. Walton County Fire Rescue was called to the shrimp boat near Shipyard Road in Freeport. “Firefighters conducted a primary search of the vessel and are now working to extinguish the flames,” the department says in a release. “At this time, it is believed that no one was on the vessel when the flames ignited.” No further details were released. We will update the story when we get more info. >Link< 10:45

Coast Guard medevacs fisherman near Venice, Louisiana

The Coast Guard medevaced a 55-year-old man Sunday from a fishing vessel approximately 10 miles east of Venice, Louisiana. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a call at approximately 4:00 p.m. that a crewmember aboard the fishing vessel F/V Thanh Nhut Li had reportedly sustained severe injuries to the leg. The watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew to assist. The helicopter aircrew arrived on scene, hoisted the patient and transported him to University Medical Center in New Orleans.  The crewmember was last reported in stable condition. -USCG-  >Video<  

How an Unlucky Texas Fisherman Stumbled Upon an Environmental Catastrophe

Five years before a pair of bullets tore through his gut and heart, Billy Joe Aplin reached over the silt-smeared water of the tidal flats with a boat hook to snare a small buoy bobbing near the grassy shoreline. As he pulled it toward his skiff, the rope gathered in soggy coils by his white rubber boots. Billy Joe was a bear of a man, six feet with broad shoulders, strong nose, square jaw, and jet-black hair. Their skiff drifted calmly at the mouth of the Guadalupe River in San Antonio Bay, their favorite spot to lay traps. His wife, Judy, lit a cigarette and took a long drag in the Texas heat. His ten-year-old daughter, Beth, was already perched on her culling stool, ready to sort the catch. Billy Joe Jr. and Cheryl Ann, only five and four, huddled close to their mom. Superstitious fishermen thought it was bad luck to bring a woman on a boat, but by 1975, Billy Joe had endured such a streak of bum luck that he couldn’t afford not to bring his family out with him: they were his deckhands. >click to read< 14:09

When Vietnamese Fishermen Went to War With the Klan in Texas

A few nights before the start of the 1980 shrimping season in Texas, as a tropical storm pounded the gulf coast, a Justice Department mediator booked a room at a Holiday Inn near the fishing town of Seabrook, on the western edge of Galveston Bay. He was expecting two guests, each representing opposing sides of a turf war liable to explode into violence. His plan was to lock them inside until they brokered some kind of a treaty. Gene Fisher, the burly 35-year-old founder of the American Fishermen’s Association, arrived first. Fisher stiffened at the sound of someone rapping at the door of the Holiday Inn room: the second guest had arrived, the president of the Vietnamese Fishermen’s Association. Nam Văn Nguyễn was a highly-decorated South Vietnamese colonel.  >click to read< 11:09

Vermilion Bay shrimper says local shrimp industry is struggling, calls on lawmakers for solutions

“I’ve been commercially fishing since 1974, so it’s been a little over forty years I’ve been doing this,” said Thomas Olander. “I am a third generation, my father did it, my grandfather did it,” he said. “Hurricanes have been a big issue for us. The BP oil spill was a real big issue for us here.” “In 2022, we’re down to 4,000 commercial fishermen.” “We’re being overregulated, we’re paying way too much for fuel, and we’re getting the absolute worst price of my whole career doing this,” he added. According to Olander, the cause is imported shrimp, as imported shrimp floods the market and domestic shrimpers are getting a smaller share and getting squeezed out. Video, >click to read< 17:03

Delcambre Shrimp Festival

The town of Delcambre held its annual shrimp festival after nearly a two-year hiatus. This will be Delcambre’s 70th year hosting shrimp festival. Now the fall shrimp season began Monday off Louisiana’s coast. Though many in Delcambre are excited, they can finally feast on the pounds and pounds of shrimp that make its way through Delcambre for this festival. The event also helps celebrate the town’s shrimp industry, which employs many residents. In 1950 the first shrimp festival was held in Delcambre and has been a staple for the community ever since. >click to read< 18:16

End of an era: Old-fashioned mullet smoker to close after 43 years of business

A Sarasota fisherman is nearing the end of an era. For 43 years, George Nodaros has been a champion of old school cooking, spending countless Saturday morning smoking mullet for eager customers. His method is an old fashioned style that’s rarely seen around modern Sarasota. Using a massive smoker he bought more than 30 years ago, the fisherman smokes his freshly caught mullets for hours on Saturday mornings, starting at the crack of dawn. The recipe is a simple one comprised of salt, pepper, paprika and patience. Tough work, but for Nodaros, it’s rewarding enough to keep coming back year after year. >click to read< 14:29

Fishing for Solutions: The race to protect coastal Louisiana’s cultures and way of life

The seafood and fishing industry provides tens of thousands of jobs to Louisiana, many of them via small family businesses in coastal communities. And while dealing with the impacts of climate change, local fishers and shrimpers also are contending with imported products driving down prices, fuel costs, fisheries allocations, regulatory constraints and an aging workforce. Local fishers in recent years have been grappling with skyrocketing insurance rates as well, making it harder to recover once the storm has passed. Photos, >click to read< 09:09

The Dead Zone – Nothing Here Gets Out Alive

With an easy drawl, Dean Blanchard, the owner of Dean Blanchard Seafood in the barrier-island town of Grand Isle, Louisiana, makes an understated observation: “There’s a reason they call it a dead zone. When the dead zone comes, everything’s dead. We can’t catch dead stuff. We’re in the live stuff business.” What Blanchard is talking about is the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone,” an enormous area in which, every spring, an overgrowth of algae and other vegetation absorbs dissolved oxygen from the water and kills all animal life. “This year,” Blanchard says, “we had shrimp jumping on the beach, committing suicide, trying to get out of the water because there’s no oxygen.” The result is an economic disaster. To find live shrimp, fishers have to ply their boats as far as fifty miles from shore. “With the price of fuel, you don’t want to go too far,” Blanchard says. His company’s annual haul has declined from twelve million pounds of shrimp a year to under five million. He used to employ sixty workers—now he’s down to thirty. >click to read< 11:49

Oil spill in Terrebonne Bay on opening day of shrimp season causes grief for fishermen

A Terrebonne Bay oil spill on the first day of Louisiana’s inshore shrimp season has taken a toll on some local fishermen, who say they received no warning of the incident until many hours after it occurred and as a result ended up with fouled nets and oiled boats. The Coast Guard said it was notified through the National Response Center at 3:01 a.m. Monday that a tank platform collapsed at the Hilcorp Caillou Island facility in Terrebonne Bay. “I went out on the opening and I kept pushing all that night,” said Terrebonne Parish shrimper John Sophin. “I didn’t know about the spill, nobody warned me, I didn’t know where it was at.” >click to read< 08:54

Louisiana shrimpers struggle to make ends meet after prices plummet

“We’re just steady shrimping for nothing,” Cameron Parish shrimper Anthony Theriot said. Theriot says the return on investment is making him reconsider leaving the dock each day. “It’s about $450 a day, with the price of fuel right now that’s 100 gallons of fuel with a little bit of snacks to eat, you go out, you catch 1,000 pounds of shrimp, 1,000 pounds of 50/60′s right now, you’re looking at $650 at 65 cents a pound, at $650, it costs $450 to go catch them, you have crew members looking at you wanting to make money so by the time you divide it all up, you have nothing there,” he said. Video, >click to read< 09:37

Florida: Pine Island man sentenced in stone crab case of crabs taken from traps that weren’t his

A Pine Island man facing multiple charges of harvesting stone crab and other species from traps that weren’t his got two years’ probation and credit for a one-day jail sentence. Steve Harry Long, 65, of Pineland, withdrew a not guilty plea and pleaded no contest Aug. 3 in early resolution court before Senior Circuit Judge Thomas Reese. Long faced 16 conservation law violations including multiple counts of molestation of stone crap traps without consent of the owner, possession of egg-bearing female stone crabs, possession of undersized sheepshead and blue crab trap molestation. >click to read< 15:02

North Atlantic right whales at Risk – Offshore wind farms bring a lot of unknowns

The race is on to get offshore wind farms built off the U.S. East Coast, and North Carolina is one of the leading states with three projects planned for the Tar Heel Coast, two roughly 20 miles south of Bald Head Island in Brunswick County and one, which will be built first, about 27 miles off Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks. And they might not be the last for the state’s coastal waters. While visiting a National Governors Association event in Wilmington last month, Gov. Roy Cooper was asked if he’d support more offshore wind built off the N.C. coast. “Absolutely,” he responded emphatically. >click to read< 09:26

Joel Dejean: Turn the Tide Against the Texas Gulf Wind Farms

The Biden Administration announced last week that the first offshore wind farms in the Gulf of Mexico will be positioned off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. The first selected area was described approvingly in the July 22 issue of The Texas Tribune by Mitchell Ferman. It is “24 nautical miles off the coast of Galveston, covering 546,645 acres, bigger than the city of Houston, with the potential to power 2.3 million homes, according to the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.” The other project, praised in Houston Chronicle headlines, will be near Port Arthur [Texas] covering 188,023 acres, 56 miles offshore, with power potential estimated at 799,000 homes. Public hearings are to start in August. Two issues come immediately to mind. First, in the description of both projects, the phrase ”potential to power” is used. The figures given represent 100% potential productive capacity, but the wind usually delivers only 30%, and often even less. >click to read< 11:25

‘I don’t know where the breaking point is at’: A look at the threats the Louisiana seafood industry faces

Whether it’s crawfish, crabs, fish, shrimp or oysters, Louisiana is known for its seafood. The seafood industry is one of Louisiana’s largest employers. But the Louisiana seafood industry is threatened. “We are accountable for one-third of the seafood in this country. That’s something to be proud of,” said Mitch Jurisich, the chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force and a third-generation oyster farmer. “But the industry, it seems like we’ve been under attack for several years now.” Those we talked to in the shrimp and oyster fishing business say there are problems gripping the seafood industry, including price, government projects and natural disasters. Let’s start with the price. Video, >click to read/watch<   21:44