Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

A Letter to NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver about the resumption of Observer coverage

Mr. Oliver. Recently you sent out an announcement about the resumption of Observer coverage set to begin on August 14th in fisheries where coverage had been suspended due to the Corona virus outbreak for the last 5 months. Personally I find your reasons for the resumption of observer coverage to be not only reckless, but dangerous to the health and safety of the American fishermen who make their living from the sea.,, Yet you, in your infinite bureaucratic knowledge of what is right and what is wrong, think that at this time it is vitally important that observers be placed on fishing vessels where they can endanger the health of not only the crewmen but their families. Interestingly, you have not put your own employees at risk. You have cancelled trawl survey’s for the remainder of this year so as not to risk their exposure to this lethal disease. This despite the fact that the NOAA trawl survey vessels are state of the art, and their crew could actually be quarantined before a trip to assure their safety. I’m sure they would be happy to collect two weeks of pay for sitting around watching TV somewhere. >click to read< 15:05

Wicker, Hyde-Smith, Palazzo Announce $30M in Aid for U.S. Shrimp Industry

The announcement comes after the Mississippi lawmakers sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting that he use his authority to purchase and distribute Gulf seafood to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. Recently-enacted legislation, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, includes additional support for USDA programs that provide food to distressed communities. “Mississippi’s shrimp industry has been hit hard by COVID19, with many vessels having to stay tied to the dock due to collapsing markets. We are glad to hear the USDA is stepping up purchases of Gulf shrimp and applaud the hard work of our Congressional delegation to make it happen,” >click to read< 09:17

NOAA can’t make rules for offshore fish farms

A federal appeals court in New Orleans has upheld a decision that throws out rules regulating fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico. The law granting authority over fisheries to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does not also let the agency set rules for offshore fish farms, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its 2-1 decision on Monday. “I think this is the final nail in the coffin for industrial aquaculture in federal waters unless Congress gives authority,” said George Kimbrell, who represented opponents of the plan as legal director for the Center For Food Safety. >click to read< 21:47

Boats are blessed on the bayou during the annual St. Bernard Blessing of the Fleet

Shrimp, crab and fishing boats adorned in flags lined up for the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Saint Bernard Parish. Each boat was blessed with holy water by Archbishop Gregory Aymond in front of Robin Seafood Co. The Charlito donates money to the church during the annual St. Bernard Blessing  of the Fleet in St. Bernard, La., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. Decorated shrimp, crab and fishing boats lined up to be blessed by Archbishop Gregory Aymond. The Ellie Margaret shrimp boat travels down the bayou fore the annual St. Bernard Blessing of the Fleet in St. Bernard, La. More photo’s, >click here< 22:36

Foreshadowing of a fire

A funny thing happened last month, at the June 15 meeting of the Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Department. The firefighters were talking about whether the department could use a fire boat, and Chief George Watkins told the story of how 46 years ago when he was still in high school, the 72-foot Kingfisher burned in the Apalachicola River. On Tuesday, June 16, Watkins and Jimmy Moses were working on Little St. George Island when they got a page, “We didn’t see any smoke, but about the time we got almost to the bridge it blew up and we saw black smoke,” Watkins said. “We knew it was bad.” The 45-foot Desperado, captained by Michael Redman, was in in the process of coming up Scipio Creek from Port St. Joe when the mishap occurred. >click to read< 07:53

A message from Chris Oliver on National-Level Observer Waiver Criteria; Redeployment in Northeast To Begin

To improve transparency in our approach to observer deployment, we have established national-level criteria for vessels to be waived (released) from observer or at-sea monitor coverage. Going forward, observer or monitor coverage may be waived, for both full and partial-coverage fisheries, on a trip-specific basis if one of the following two criteria are met: (1) Observers or at-sea monitors are not available for deployment; or (2) The observer providers cannot meet the safety protocols imposed by a state on commercial fishing crew or by the vessel or vessel company on its crew. Within our limited authority, our efforts are intended to ensure observers and monitors are following the same safety protocols that fishermen are following. >click to read< 17:50

Florida fisheries wait for federal aid as prices take a deep dive – fisheries across the nation have experienced steep sales decline

Federal officials Wednesday defended the delay in releasing $300 million on fisheries assistance funding, including $23.4 million for Florida, saying the pandemic has set them behind in analyzing data to determine how much each fishery is due. Senators on the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee urged faster action to offset the impacts of COVID-19 on the seafood industry. Committee Chairman Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., noted that fisheries across the nation have experienced up to a 90 percent decline in sales.,, In May, the CARES Act allocated $300 million for fisheries assistance funding. Florida received $23,447,815, according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has not approved the state’s plan. >click to read< 13:03

Coast Guard assists a 77-foot fishing vessel taking on water

The Coast Guard assisted a 77-foot fishing vessel taking on water near Freshwater Bayou, Louisiana, Wednesday. Sector/Air Station Houston-Galveston watchstanders received a report of a 77-foot fishing vessel with three fisHermen, aboard taking on water. Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and launched a Coast Guard Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew and a Station Sabine Response Boat-Medium boat crew to the scene. Once on scene, the Air Station Houston helicopter crew lowered a rescue swimmer and a dewatering pump to the vessel, F/V Capt. Cardin. The source of the flooding was secured and the vessel was dewatered. Video, >click to read< 17:12

Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, bait shrimping business is good

Over the past few years, the shrimping business has been struggling. Even the number of boats licensed to catch bait shrimp in Texas bays has dropped. There are currently only about 300 boats licensed to catch bait shrimp in Texas bay waters compared to 2,378 in 1988. Just days after Hurricane Hanna slammed into the Coastal Bend, those few bait shrimping boats were back at work to meet the public demand. “They have been selling as fast as we can get them. It is gone. We are steady every day; every day we need 200 pounds every day,”, video, >click to read< 09:22

Clifford Cooper, an early pioneer of the shrimping industry in Aransas Pass

Clifford Boyd Cooper (84) passed away on Saturday, July 25, 2020 at his home peacefully with his family at his side. He was born on November 16, 1935 to Oliver Claude and Daisy Marie Cooper in Bay City, Texas. Clifford was an early pioneer of the shrimping industry in Aransas Pass. He also shrimped off the coast of Africa and South America. He loved the open sea and filling his nets with shrimp from our beautiful Gulf of Mexico. He even taught net weaving to interested young men at Del Mar Tech College to help spur the shrimping industry. Later in life he worked for Gulf King Marine as maintenance/mechanic for their fleet of shrimp boats. >click to read< 08:31

Gulf of Mexico Still Struggling 10 Years After BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Blanchard operates one of America’s biggest shrimp distributors, Dean Blanchard Seafood, which has yet to fully recover from the aftereffects of one of the world’s worst oil disasters. The calamity began when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, 2010, The environmental catastrophe devastated one of the world’s most productive aquatic ecosystems five years after Hurricane Katrina had decimated the region. Fishing industry devastated,,, Shrimper and oyster harvester George Barisich said he had to settle for 35% of lost income. “That oil’s basically created pavement at the bottom of the Gulf,” Barisich explained. “Some seafood likes to hide at the bottom, but they can’t burrow in pavement.” Blanchard blames the situation for shrimp hauls that continue to decrease annually. >click to read< 08:19

Florida Delegation Want Commercial Fishermen Included in USDA’s Lobster Relief Program

This week, the Florida congressional delegation, led by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., urged U.S. Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue to include Florida’s commercial fishermen in the lobster relief program announced by President Donald Trump on June 24. The program addresses harm to the United States lobster industry caused by steep tariffs imposed by the Chinese government. Dear Secretary Perdue, We write to request the inclusion of Florida commercial fishermen in the lobster relief program announced by President Trump on June 24, 2020, in response to the difficulties facing the United States lobster industry due to tariff action by the Chinese government. >click to read< 09:25

This story has a Twist! F/V Jenny Lynn had been disabled since Monday.

A commercial fisherman was rescued Thursday by the Coast Guard after his vessel capsized in the Gulf of Mexico 18 miles west of the city. The Coast Guard received an emergency alert at 8:56 a.m. from the radio beacon of the Jenny Lynn,,, Robert Heart, 48, was clinging to a cooler near the sunken vessel in 3 to 4-foot seas and 15 mph winds. The Coast Guard Cutter Diamondback first made contact with the Jenny Lynn on Wednesday when it was sent to help a 15-year-old boy who had fallen ill onboard.,, >click to read< 19:02

Coast Guard rescues Commercial Fisherman from capsized vessel near St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Coast Guard rescued a man, Thursday, after his 36-foot commercial fishing vessel capsized 18 miles west of St. Petersburg. Rescued was Robert Heart, 48. Coast Guard Seventh District watchstanders received an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) alert at 8:56 a.m. for the commercial fishing vessel, F/V Jenny Lynn, homeported in Fort Myers. An Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was directed to launch, and they located the Jenny Lynn capsized. video, >click to read< 15:52

After Proposing A Five-Week Cut, Florida Cuts Stone Crab Season By Two Weeks

After originally threatening to shorten the stone crab season by five weeks, the commission conceded to complaints in a virtually held meeting on Wednesday and shortened the season by only two weeks, with a new end date of May 1. The new rules go into effect Oct. 1. The commission finalized its rules after hosting a series of virtual workshops since June with industry stakeholders, who widely criticized the agency’s original proposals. On Wednesday, commissioners acknowledged that the new rules, even with a May 1 end of season, would succeed in keeping more than 300,000 pounds of stone crabs from being harvested, which should surpass the agency’s goal of saving 1 million pounds of stone crabs from harvest over a five-year period. >click to read< 07:58

Louisiana fisheries, coastal agencies working on initial oyster recovery strategy

Oysters are such a mainstay of Louisiana cuisine,, But over the past two decades, the state’s legendary bivalves have been getting battered. In hopes of reversing those trends, the agencies that oversee Louisiana’s fisheries and its coastal restoration efforts are developing a long-term strategy to revive the state’s once-legendary and recently beleaguered oyster fishery. The initial price tag is estimated at $132 million,, The plan was presented to the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries’ Louisiana Oyster Task Force for an initial review on July 7, and was endorsed by the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority eight days later. >click to read< 13:04

Body of Shrimper Reported Missing Pulled From Lake Pontchatrain, Louisiana

William Segrave, 65, left home Thursday afternoon in his 28-foot shrimp boat. He was reported missing Friday after family members found his empty boat still in gear near the foot of the Highway 11 bridge, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said. The body was found about noon near the Interstate 10 Twin Span bridges and will be turned over to the St. Tammany Parish coroner’s office for autopsy to determine a cause of death and positive identification, the Sheriff’s Office said. >click to read< 10:58

Fisheries across nation seeking monitor waivers

What began in the fisheries of New England has spread across the country. Fishing stakeholders from as far away as the West Coast and Alaska have joined Northeast commercial fishermen in pressuring NOAA Fisheries to extend — and uniformly apply — waivers from having to carry at-sea monitors and other observers on vessels while the COVID-19 pandemic still rages. The Seafood Harvesters of America, an umbrella organization that represents 18 separate fishing groups from Maine to Alaska, wrote to NOAA Fisheries and Department of Commerce officials this week to advance many of the same safety arguments against reinstating observers aboard commercial fishing vessels in the midst of the pandemic. >click to read< 16:30

Coast Guard searching for shrimp fisherman in the water in Lake Pontchatrain

The Coast Guard is searching for a person in the water in Lake Pontchatrain, Louisiana, Friday. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report that a 63-year-old male got underway on Lake Pontchatrain on a 28-foot shrimping boat Thursday afternoon and did not return. His brother then discovered the vessel Friday morning washed ashore. The boat operator is described as blonde with blue eyes, short and stocky. To be updated, -USCG- 13:39

Florida stone crabbers asking FWC to hold off on new rules

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission may enforce tougher rules on fishing to help increase the stone crab population, but fishermen say that could destroy their business. We talked to some of the members of the Florida Stone Crabbers Association who say a one-two punch of COVID-19 and these new rules will make a bad situation even worse. “I’m afraid that’s it’s going to cripple the livelihood of so many people out there,” said Carrie Doxsee. FWC says the state’s stone crab population is declining due to overfishing. Video, >click to read< 09:59

Apalachicola Bay Oystermen to Lose Livelihoods – Supreme Court defers ruling on water war

Florida is poised to close Apalachicola Bay to oyster harvesting in a board vote slated for July 22. The proposed closure is the most dramatic step to be taken by Florida during its longstanding complaint against Georgia. The closure would start Aug. 1 and extend through Dec. 31, 2025. “You’ve got people out there working in the bay,” commission Chairman Noah Lockley Jr., a commercial fisherman said at the commission’s July 7 meeting. “These people need to either get some help or get some retraining, or something. That’s what they’re supposed to do, but they’re just going to come shut the bay down. Possession of an Apalachicola Bay oyster in or on the bay would be banned, as would be possession of the wooden tongs used to harvest oysters. >click to read< 11:09

SURVEY: Please Help Extreme Gloucester Fishing: Restructure, Retool, Retrain, Revive and Reunite the U.S. Commercial Fisheries

Extreme Gloucester Fishing Commercial Industry Training Center is doing a U.S. Commercial Fisheries Survey – Please help Extreme Gloucester Fishing with our efforts to Restructure, Retool, Retrain, Revive and Reunite the U.S. Commercial Fisheries Take the Survey. 1. Do commercial fishermen care about their industry? 2. Should fish be owned before they are caught?, 3.,,,  >click to read<, and please leave comments or suggestions, and connect with others to get things started! Thank you, Captain Joseph Sanfilippo 10:30

U.S. Crustacean Market to hit $10.2 billion by 2026

The U.S. is among the biggest markets for seafood & seafood-based products and it is ever-growing due to its inherent health benefits. The growth of the seafood demand is attributed to high disposable incomes and an exponential growth of omnichannel partners. E-commerce platforms and digital distribution channels have significantly escalated the seafood market in both formats including business-to-business as well as business-to-customer operations. Many retail giants such as Walmart and Target etc. engaged in the industry has been increasing the presence on these channels to reach out to more customers and deliver high-quality & fresh products. This trend is redefining the supply chain distribution of consumer products in the region. As a result of these marketing efforts, more people are buying or preferring seafood, which will support the growth of crustaceans. >click to read< 14:09

Fisherman talks shrimping season coming to close

Louisiana fisherman Bobby Rivere says the brown shrimp season is coming to a close this evening, and the white shrimp season won’t start up until mid-August. “This gives the white shrimp time to grow. We don’t catch them too prematurely because right now they’ll be too small for consumption,” he said. The white shrimp may be smaller right now because of our mild winter. “We really don’t know why they are so small, they are late moving and with winter not being too cold they aren’t growing properly I guess,” Rivere said. >click to read< 11:01

The USCG’s First Superstorm: The Great Galveston Hurricane

In early September of 1900, a hurricane of massive force struck the Gulf Coast west of Galveston, Texas. The Great Galveston Hurricane would prove far deadlier than any man-made, environmental or weather-related disaster in U.S. history, with approximately 8,000 killed in Galveston and roughly 2,000 more lost in other parts of the Gulf Coast. This death toll is greater than the combined casualty figure for the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, Hurricane Katrina, the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as Hurricane Ike, which struck Galveston in 2008. >click to read< 09:15

America Needs To Stop Relying On Countries Like China For Seafood Markets

When Americans visit a supermarket and wander past the meat counter, they see this century’s equivalent of the fishmonger’s stall: the seafood department. Laden over crushed ice in glass cases sits an array of fish products — whole snapper or shrimp, maybe, but almost always pre-sliced filets in a bevy of hues. Oysters and clams complete the display. In the rare cases where stores divulge the provenance of seafood, placards will often list Thailand, China or South American countries. Less frequently, however, will one see U.S-raised or caught seafood in such displays. This is disappointing to the patriot who wishes to ‘buy American.’ >clickto read< 07:00

Seadrift fishermen struggle with shrimp-sized market

Shrimping season arrived in May, but it didn’t bring renewed demand for Gulf shellfish. After restaurants began to close in March, demand for oysters tanked. Some oyster harvesters were able to scrape through the season, but Nevarez said shrimp season has been even bleaker. “After all these outbreaks we’ve been having, they’re probably going to start closing again,” she said of the restaurants that normally buy her husband’s shrimp. She said she’s encouraging her husband, a shrimper of 35 years, to begin considering alternate work. >click to read< 18:34

#FishermensLivesMatter: Until this pandemic is over, say no to fishery observers being placed on fishing vessels

On July 1st the Trump Administration’s agency, NOAA will require that fishing vessels resume taking fishery observers on their fishing trips. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic these activities have been suspended for almost three months due to the danger of spreading the deadly disease among the
fishing industry and their families. Fishery observers are required by National Marine Fishery Service regulations to observe commercial fishing operations in almost all of our countries fisheries based on various criteria that include likelihood of interaction with marine mammals or other protected species, amount of bycatch in each fishery, adherence to regulations, and anything else they can justify to support this huge taxpayer money gobbling con game they have created. >click to read< by Jim Lovgren #FishermensLivesMatter 22:27

An East Coast Perspective on Coronavirus Impacts

This was initially to be about how the New Jersey commercial fishing industry was coping with the coronavirus crisis. However, there is a seemingly infinite number of websites running commentaries on the national and/or international aspects of the ongoing pandemic in general and, surprisingly, as it specifically applies to and as it affects commercial fishing and the seafood industry. Considering this, sharing more than an overview of what the New Jersey industry, or at least that part of it that I have been in touch with, would probably not have much of an impact. But happily, at this point it seems that U.S. consumers aren’t really as averse to preparing quality seafood at home (when it isn’t available or is only limitedly available elsewhere) as most of us have believed. >click to read< By Nils Stolpe 12:05

Software Engineer Gets Federal Prison For Stealing Fishing Spot Info From Escambia County Company

Timothy J. Smith, 43, of Mobile, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in United States District Court in Pensacola on charges of theft of trade secrets and interstate extortionate communications. Strikeline, the victim in the case, is a Pensacola based company that uses commercial side scan sonar equipment to locate fishing reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and sells the coordinates using an interactive map on their website. StrikeLines also provides public coordinates for free to those interested in finding valuable spots to fish in the Gulf. >click to read< 08:31