Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Coast Guard crews work diligently to keep fishing boat afloat in the Gulf

Additional Coast Guard crews have been sent to keep flooding at bay aboard a commercial fishing vessel with four people aboard, 30 miles northeast of Port Aransas, Friday. A Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew and a Station Port Aransas response boat crew each delivered dewatering pumps earlier in the morning, after the 95-foot Miss Tina II reported that they were taking on water. At 4:27 a.m., the captain of the Miss Tina II contacted Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi watchstanders to report the vessel was taking on water and was in need of assistance. Another aircrew returned to provide another dewatering pump later in the morning. A total of four dewatering pumps were delivered to the vessel and were keeping up with the ingress of water. A Station Port O’Connor response boat crew relieved the Port Aransas crew and the Coast Guard patrol boat was diverted to assist. The Tin Can, the sister boat of the Miss Tina II, is towing the boat to Palacios. The Station Port O’Connor response boat crew is escorting both boats. -USCG- 16:19

Oversight Hearing “Exploring the Successes and Challenges of the Magnuson-Stevens Act” Wednesday, July 19, 2017 2:00 PM

On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at 2:00 p.m., in Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans will hold an oversight hearing titled “Exploring the Successes and Challenges of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.”  Witnesses are Mr. Jeff Kaelin, Government Relations, Lund’s Fisheries, Inc. Cape May, New Jersey. Mr. Sean Martin, President, Hawaii Longline Association, Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Nick Wiley, Executive Director,  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tallahassee, Florida. Mr. Charles Witek, Recreational Angler and Outdoor Writer, West Babylon, New York. click here at 14:00 Wednesday to watch the proceeding.  If you need further information, please contact Calvin Frauenfelder, Clerk, Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans at (202) 225-8331.

Hearing Memorandum detailsclick here  19:35

Shrimpers Lost

Today we’re going shrimping in Venice, Louisiana. Acy Cooper is our guide. Sharyl: How important is the shrimping business to your personally? Acy Cooper: It’s everything to me. You know, my family does it. My dad’s 80 years old, he still fishes. And my two boys has entered the business, and my daughter she married a fisherman. Louisiana’s shrimp industry has been a family affair for more than a century.,,  Now my sons and all they starting to struggle now, because of what’s going on. He’s talking about foreign shrimp flooding the market from places China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. The U.S. has become a massive importer of a resource we have right here at home. About 94% of the shrimp we eat comes from abroad, selling for a fraction of the price of the ones caught at home. There’s no getting around it: The US shrimping industry is dying. click here to read the story 13:01

‘Don’t call me Bubba’: How former NFL player Jarvis Green learned shrimping from scratch

Almost two years after retiring from the NFL, Jarvis Green found himself back in training camp. Shrimp training camp. The former Patriots defensive end was learning the ins and outs of the shrimping business. But even as his now ex-wife and others kidded him by calling him “Bubba” — an allusion to Mykelti Williamson’s Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue character from the 1994 movie “Forrest Gump” — Green said he was more like Forrest than Bubba. “I always say, ‘Don’t call me Bubba,’” Green recently told Omnisport. “Remember in ‘Forrest Gump,’ somebody owed somebody a favor and Forrest kept the favor. Same thing with me. “I’m not Bubba. I’m Tom Hanks, because I’m the guy who didn’t know anything about shrimp.” Green, who spent nine years in the NFL and won a pair of Super Bowls with the Patriots, now has a flourishing shrimp business called Oceans 97 — a reference to his jersey number. click here to read the story 14:32

Environmental groups suing Trump administration for extending red snapper season

Two environmental groups are suing the Trump administration for stretching the red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico. The federal government said the economic benefit from allowing weekend fishing this summer by recreational anglers in federal waters outweighs the harm to the red snapper species, which is still recovering from disastrous overfishing. Gulf state officials had lobbied for and praised the change, but the lawsuit says the decision violated several laws by ignoring scientific assessments, promoting overfishing, and failing to follow required procedures. It was filed Monday for the Ocean Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund. click here to read the story 13:13

Texas shrimpers calling on government to authorize more migrant workers

Brownsville – “Buy American and hire American” is a popular slogan often said by President Donald Trump. While many Texas shrimping companies agree with the concept, they claim it’s simply not realistic. The shrimping season is kicking off Saturday with a crippled workforce. Starting off the shrimping season, Oscar Bautista and his crew prepare their nets and tie loose ends as they gear up to sail in uncharted territory.,,, Bautista is referring to the H-2B visa, a migrant worker permit capped yearly at 66,000 people. Half of those permits get issued between March and October. The problem is that the cap was reached within weeks by other industries in need. Life-long shrimper Greg Londrei says that many people across the country are in the same pickle. When the government doesn’t increase the number of visas, companies say that they are left to hire inexperienced American workers who, they claim, pose a greater risk to their bottom line. click here to read the story 12:00 

Navy War Games Planned for East Coast and Gulf Waters – Public comment is open until Aug. 29

The Navy intends to fire missiles, rockets, lasers, grenades and torpedoes, detonate mines and explosive buoys, and use all types of sonar in a series of live war exercises in inland and offshore waters along the East Coast. In New England, the areas where the weapons and sonar may be deployed encompass the entire coastline, as well as Navy pier-side locations, port transit channels, civilian ports, bays, harbors, airports and inland waterways. “The Navy must train the way we fight,” according to a promotional video for what is called “Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Phase III.” An environmental impact study of the war games was released June 30. Public comment is open until Aug. 29. A public hearing is scheduled for July 19 from 4-8 p.m. at Hotel Providence. Comments can be submitted online and in writing, or through a voice recorder at the hearing. The dates and exact locations of the live weapon and sonar exercises haven’t yet been released. In all, 2.6 million square miles of land and sea along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico will be part of the aerial and underwater weapons firing. click here to read the story 18:41

Florida wildlife officials hope to ban shark fin imports

Florida wildlife officials want to look at banning the importation of shark fins through the state’s ports. But without support from Gov. Rick Scott’s office, they are not getting behind a federal proposal to prohibit possession of shark fins. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley directed staff, after hearing from members of the commission and the public Monday, to look into what the agency can do about the importation of shark fins and determine what “we need to be pushing on that if we can.” With fins considered a delicacy in parts of Asia, “finning” is an illegal practice in Florida and the U.S. It involves cutting off shark fins at sea and then discarding the sharks. Commissioner Robert Spottswood was among those who questioned why the state allows the importation of shark fins separate from the rest of shark bodies. click here to read the story 13:28

Louisiana Shrimp Fishermen Face New Challenges – White Spot Disease

The experience is not universal within the nation’s eight shrimp-producing states, nor even within Louisiana. That’s why some shrimpers suspect that undiagnosed trouble may lurk within the local fishery itself. At the tail end of this year’s crawfish season, white spot disease was detected in Louisiana ponds. It’s not too far a jump, some in the industry, to suspect contamination with the virus as a cause for decline. “Is it the same strain that is in the Asian shrimp that gets imported here?” said Acy Cooper, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association.,,, Jeffrey Marx, the chief shrimp biologist at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, is skeptical.,,, Fishermen want more research to be done, and some precautions to be taken, however. click here to read the story  for links about White Spot here and Australia click here 08:34

Brownsville: Shrimp season starts with shrimp boats lacking workers

The Texas shrimp industry faces an especially daunting challenge this year, a reality echoed in the fierceness of Father Mark Watters’ blessing-of-the-fleet sermon Monday at the Brownsville Shrimp Basin. It was Watters’ 12th year blessing the Brownsville-Port Isabel shrimp fleet, though it’s doubtful he has ever raised the roof like he did Monday with a 25-minute pep talk that started quietly before building to a shouting crescendo, Watters promising the few dozen assembled that “Jesus is in the mountain-moving business.” He didn’t mince words when citing the difficulties the fleet faces this year, namely, a dire shortage of workers from Mexico. The industry is fighting a misperception that it would rather hire Mexican H-2B visa workers than U.S. workers because they’re cheaper, Hance said, though the truth is that finding Americans to crew shrimp boats is practically impossible despite the industry’s best efforts. click here to read the story 12:58

The price to pay for spearing 320 spiny lobsters was a trip to jail Sunday

The price to pay for spearing 320 spiny lobsters was a trip to jail Sunday — and hundreds of charges for seven out-of-state men. The men, who were pulled over in a rented boat on the oceanside of the Vaca Cut Bridge around 4:30 p.m. by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, also had four out-of-season stone crab claws and eight fish fillets on the boat, according to FWC spokesman Officer Bobby Dube. On the boat was a bag containing 137 out-of-season wrung spiny lobster tails — 117 of which were undersized — the stone crab claws and fish, Dube said. click here to read the story 11:37

NMFS: Public Comment Period Opens – Review and Streamline Regulatory Processes and Reduce Regulatory Burden

On January 24, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13766, “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects” (82 FR 8657, January 30, 2017). This E.O. requires infrastructure decisions to be accomplished with maximum efficiency and effectiveness, while also respecting property rights and protecting public safety. Additionally, the E.O. makes it a policy of the executive branch to “streamline and expedite, in a manner consistent with law, environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects.” click here to read the press release. click the links to comment. Let ‘er rip. This is your chance to be heard. 16:46

One Month Later: Clearing, rebuilding start at Vaca Key Marina following devastating fire

It has been one month today since an early-morning fire tore through the bayside Vaca Key Marina near mile marker 47.5. In the four weeks since thousands of lobster traps, a house, boats and forklifts were destroyed on the one-acre property owned by the Berdeal family of Miami on June 5, fishermen at the marina have been busy rebuilding. Clearing of the many piles of charred wood and concrete began Monday at the marina, said Juan Carlos Berdeal. Marathon business Discount Rock and Sand did the clearing with front-end loaders and dump trucks. click here to read the story 13:14

Shortage of Workers Expected to Affect Upcoming Gulf Shrimp Season

Boat owners said new restrictions on work permits for foreign workers are forcing them to count on whichever workers they can find. Boat owner Marcelino Ochoa said his employees at the shrimp basin are currently getting their boats ready for their time out on the Gulf. Crew member Carlos Martinez, 66, said he’s been a shrimper for about 25 years. He said he has no plans to retire anytime soon. “We’re already used to doing this type of work. So, we do it with pride because we like it,” he said. Ochoa said he’s been struggling to find workers willing to spend months on the water doing tough labor. He said younger generations are just not interested in these types of jobs. Ochoa added he was lucky to get what he could, young or old, to fill positions on his 13 boats. click here to read the story 12:52

Elderly Man in Serious Condition after Falling Off Shrimp Boat

A man who fell into the water at the shrimp basin near the Port of Brownsville is in serious condition. The Brownsville Fire deputy chief said the man is in his late 60s to early 70s. He had no identification on him. Boat owner, Marcelino Ochoa, said the man fell into the water when he was trying to get on the boat and lost his footing just before 9:00 a.m. Ochoa said two workers jumped into the water to rescue the man. He said they’re having to count on older workers this season because of the new restrictions on worker permits for people coming from Central America. click here for short video 14:42

Nils Stolpe, Fishnet USA – So how are we doing? (2017 edition) A Report on our Domestic Commercial Fishing Industry

I occasionally share my impressions of how the domestic commercial fishing industry is doing, using as my primary data source the NMFS online database “Annual Commercial Landing Statistics” (click here). We are fortunate to have these extensive records of commercial landings of fish and shellfish in the United States extending back to 1950 because they allow a fairly comprehensive view of long term industry (and resource) trends. Among the most useful statistics are those dealing with the value and weight of the total landings for each year. Together they give an overview of how the domestic fishing industry is progressing (or regressing) from year to year. Click here to read the report 11:49

Shrimp-net violation leads to drug bust

A routine vessel inspection turned into an unusual bust for Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents Tuesday, the agency reported. Agents working state offshore waters under a joint enforcement agreement with the federal government made contact with a 42-foot shrimp boat captained by Anouda Lirette, 39, of Bayou Dularge. While inspecting the boat, agents noticed the skimmer nets were oversized, and also saw dead seagulls on the boat’s deck, the department reported. Upon further investigation, agents say they found a .22-caliber rifle, marijuana, crystal methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia on board.,,, click here to read the story 17:49

Is the Gulf Seafood Fish House deal close?

What was once the Gulf Seafood fish house on Stock Island may become Gulf Seafood again in the near future. “We think it’s going to happen, that it will be preserved in perpetuity for commercial fishing,” said lobster fisherman Simon Stafford. “That’s the real goal. It would be something unique to the Lower Keys.” Monroe County staffers have been working with the Florida Communities Trust to acquire the eight-acre property at 6011 Peninsular Ave. for several years. If the purchase goes through, the concept is to keep the property dedicated as a publicly owned “working waterfront” with a focus on commercial fishing.  “We can say it’s moving forward in a positive way,” Lisa Tennyson, county director of legislative affairs and grants acquisition, said. “We can’t say much beyond that.” click here to read the story 14:35

Before You Eat That Red Snapper: The Fish Is Basically Plagued by Endless Fraud

Welcome to Before You Eat That, which broaches all the annoying food subjects that make you highly uncomfortable. This is for all you schadenfreude-obsessed killjoys out there. So far, we’ve covered the continuing saga of all things seafood: The is-it-too-smart-to-eat octopus, the oyster and its massive gonad, the sad plight of the disappearing freshwater eel, and now onward to the magnet for all things fraud, Red Snapper. Red snapper is one hell of a divisive fish. Among Texas anglers, big-time regulations make it a contentious subject between recreational and commercial factions. Among restaurants in America, the Congressional Research Service reported in 2015, 77 percent of red snapper being served in the country was not actually red snapper at all,,, Click here to read the article 21:11

Coast Guard assists shrimp trawler taking on water southeast of Galveston

The Coast Guard provided emergency dewatering pumps to a sinking shrimp trawler approximately 80 miles southeast of Galveston early Wednesday morning. Tuesday at about 9 p.m., a crewmember of the Footprint, a 68-foot shrimping trawler, with four people aboard, broadcast a mayday over VHF marine band channel 16, which was partially received by Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders. The entire transmission was overheard by the vessel Sunshine State, which assisted in relaying the rest of it to the watchstanders. They reported the trawler was taking on water and its onboard pumps were not working fast enough. A HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew was dispatched along with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and the Coast Guard Cutter Pompano, an 87-foot patrol boat. At 1:26 a.m., the helicopter arrived on scene and the crew attempted to lower a rescue swimmer, but was unable to do so due to weather conditions. The aircrew then lowered a dewatering pump, which the trawler crew was able to use to stop the boat from sinking. The Footprint began making its way towards Freeport at 3:35 a.m., under the escort of  the Pompano, and arrived at the Freeport jetties at 11:29 a.m. USCG

Chris Oliver Appointed to Lead NOAA Fisheries

Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, with concurrence from the White House, named Chris Oliver Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. The Texas native assumed his new position on June 19, taking the helm from Acting Assistant Administrator Samuel Rauch who will return to his position as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs.,,, Oliver most recently served as Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a position he held for the past 16 years. He has been with the Council since 1990, also serving as a fisheries biologist and then deputy director. During his tenure as executive director he led the way on several cutting edge management initiatives, including development of limited access privilege programs and fishery cooperatives and catch share programs, the North Pacific’s comprehensive onboard observer program, numerous bycatch reduction programs, extensive habitat protection measures, commercial and recreational allocation programs, and coastal community development programs. He was also responsible for all administrative and operational aspects of the Council process, and lead staffer for legislative and international issues. click here to read the press release 11:32

Conflicts of Interest Plague Fishery Councils

In a tremendous display of arrogance, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council member David Walker of Alabama went on a rant at the June meeting of the Gulf Council in which he proclaimed that millionaire shareholders like himself are the only ones who contribute anything to the red snapper fishery. He was referring to the paltry 3 percent administrative fee that shareholders are required to pay to cover the expense of the catch share program that has made him rich. The fact that NOAA Fisheries acknowledges the fee doesn’t even cover the cost of the program (the shortfall is picked up by taxpayers like you and me) did not deter Walker from his outlandish claims. He went on to challenge recreational anglers to show what they contribute.,, The end result of efforts by groups like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to privatize public marine resources was on full display at this meeting. They may not have intended it, but EDF and their allies have created an entire class of spoiled, entitled bullies, ready to intimidate anyone who threatens their domain, from Council members to Congressmen. Click here to read the story 14:35

Feds (No EDF and Pew) complain new Red Snapper season will hurt species’ recovery

The U.S. Commerce Department says recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico will have 39 more days to fish federal waters for red snapper,,,However, an environmental group and a charter captains’ association estimate that private anglers will take nearly triple their allocated 3.4 million-pound (1.5 million kilogram) quota of the sport and panfish under the plan, potentially canceling next year’s recreational season entirely.,,“The current system is failing private anglers and they deserve a fix,” Mike Jennings, president of the Charter Fisherman’s Association said in a prepared statement.,,, Earlier Wednesday, his group and the Environmental Defense Fund had emailed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, asking him to delay any decision until he had good scientific estimates of the likely catch. click here to read the story 16:45

Department of Commerce Announces Changes to the 2017 Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Private Angler Recreational Season

For the first time in a decade, Federal authorities and the five Gulf States have agreed to align Federal and State private angler red snapper fishing seasons for the remainder of the summer, and the Department of Commerce has re-opened the 2017 private angler recreational season for 39 weekend days and holidays.  Majority Whip Scalise and other Members of Congress were instrumental in reaching this agreement. The agreement reached between the Secretary of Commerce and the five Gulf States is a significant step forward in building a new Federal-State partnership in managing the Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock.The Departments rule does not change the quota or season length for the federally permitted for-hire component of the recreational fishery or the commercial individual fishing quota program and the 2017 commercial quota.  Click here to read the press release 18:13

Economic Contribution of White Shrimp Commercial Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico States

The annual commercial landing values of wild American white shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico Region in 2015 reached $153.7 million, which is about 75.3% of the average annual landing values during the last five years. The total economic contribution of commercial shrimping in 2015 amounted to $291.7 million (Figure 1). Commercial shrimping created 4,114 jobs and generated labor income amounting to $104.1 million in the Gulf regional economy.  The white shrimp commercial fishing industry generates annual tax revenues for the Gulf States and the U.S. federal government. A total of $17.8 million were estimated to have been paid by households and businesses in 2015 to the federal government as social insurance tax, tax on production and imports, corporate profit tax, and personal income tax.  The Gulf States were expected to have collected taxes from households and businesses in 2015 amounting to $8.7 million as social insurance tax, tax on production and imports, corporate profits tax, and personal tax. Click here to read the story 12:16

Seven Years Later, Deepwater Horizon Still Spilling Into Legal System

The BP oil spill has faded from the global headlines, but seven years later, the effects on residents of the Gulf Coast and the legal system nationwide are far from over. While the journey has been long and difficult, there are lessons for those injured and their lawyers. The Deepwater Horizon Claim Center will likely shut down this year after paying an estimated $13 billion in individual and business claims for economic and property damages. As it does, payments from related settlements, this time with Halliburton Energy Services Inc., Trans-Ocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. and other defendants, will start. Thousands of claimants are expected to divide $1.24 billion.,,, Those in the seafood industry received $2.3 billion in compensation for business and economic losses. Of that, $520 million was not paid until late last year, which means some people waited six-and-a-half years to receive all of their money. click here to read the story 11:40

White spot – Shellfish disease unlikely to become major threat to shrimp

A shellfish killing disease discovered in crawfish ponds around Louisiana about a month ago isn’t as likely to be a major threat to the shrimp population, state officials say. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Jeff Marx said the virus is most likely in wild populations, but it shouldn’t affect wild shrimp as much as the crawfish because shrimp aren’t in contained spaces like crawfish are. Although the disease has only been found in crawfish, it could also infect shrimp and crabs in coastal estuaries, according to a report by the LSU Ag Center. Shrimp and crab will be tested for the virus. click here to read the story 14:57

Unlikely to become a major threat? They thought that in Queensland. Australia: Fears grow as white spot detected in crab in Logan River, click here for more info.

Vaca Key Marina owner’s son: ‘We will rebuild’

Even though the damage caused by a massive fire in Marathon Monday has been devastating to those who lived and work at the Vaca Key Marina, efforts to rebuild are underway. The June 6 fire that tore through the 1-acre bayside marina at mile marker 47.5 destroyed three boats, a house, six forklifts and thousands of lobster traps from 2 to 5:30 a.m. Traffic in both directions was shut down for hours. Capt. Dave Dipre with the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was at the marina Thursday assessing the number of lobster and stone-crab traps lost in the fire and said the actual number is closer to 10,000, contrary to the 20,000 originally reported lost. On the other, unfortunate, hand, what was first thought to be $1 million in estimated damage is now closer to $2 million, said Juan Carlos Berdeal, son of property owner Carlos Berdeal of Miami. click here to read the story 08:21

Early reports point to decent MS shrimp season

Shrimp season in Mississippi waters opened just two days ago. Early reports from fishermen indicate we might be in for a decent season. St. Michael’s ice and fuel dock on Biloxi’s Back Bay is unloading about 10 boat loads of shrimp a day. One boat that had been out since the season started unloaded about 4,000 pounds of shrimp Friday morning. “The shrimp are larger than last year, fuel prices are down, and shrimpers are getting a fair price for their catch,” said Chris Lyons, who manages St. Michael’s. short video, read the story here 17:34

Shrimp season opens in Mississippi Sound

The 2017 brown shrimp season opened 6 a.m. Wednesday and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources officials are hoping the season will be bountiful for recreational and commercial shrimpers in South Mississippi. DMR public affairs director Melissa Scallan said the season opened with almost 700 permits issued. Scallan said there were about 250 boats in the water on Wednesday and most were between Gulfport and Biloxi. Video,  click here to read the story   Some fishermen, however, were disappointed by their early catches. Shrimper Sam Huynh said, “Little shrimp and a lot of trash.” Video, click here to read the story 09:30