Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Murder on the high seas? Complaint says Collier man beat dad to death on fishing boat

A Collier County man is facing charges in what the U.S. government says was an apparent murder on the high seas out in the Gulf of Mexico off Marco Island. Casey Lowell Hickok, 32, of Copeland, near Everglades City, was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, while aboard a commercial fishing vessel, Hickok was witnessed bludgeoning a sleeping member of the boat’s crew to death with a spare boat alternator, which he later threw off the vessel. The charges were filed in the Middle District of U.S. District Court in Fort Myers. >click to read<15:27

Fake lobster-tag case leads to arrests in Florida Keys

Florida fisheries investigators have made at least two arrests following a long inquiry into the sale of counterfeit lobster trap tags required by law for commercial anglers to do business in the state. The suspected ringleader is a Palmetto Bay woman who is the registered agent of more than 50 active and inactive commercial fishing operations in Florida. She was arrested Monday in the Florida Keys on racketeering and fraud charges. Elena P. Reyes, 67, is being held in Monroe County jail on a total bond of $892,500. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators also arrested Michael Enrique Sanchez,

Florida Keys Maritime business back after Hurricane Irma

Editor’s note: It’s been 542 days since Hurricane Irma swept the Keys. By in large, the Keys have recovered. But there are still some pockets that are working on rebuilding, including commercial fishermen. Many lost thousands of traps and are still struggling against the vagaries of Mother Nature. It’s something to note this weekend of the Marathon Seafood Festival. Many homes and businesses were destroyed when Hurricane Irma swept through the Florida Keys. Some will never be rebuilt; many small businesses were forced to close forever. >click to read<10:48

Game wardens seized large amounts of shrimp

Local Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens seized just over 1,800 pounds of shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday afternoon. According to Calhoun County Game Warden Chelsea Bailey, she along with a couple other game wardens were patrolling the Gulf of Mexico specifically for shrimp boats. “We inspect their catch, the net and the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) that they use on the boat,” Bailey said. These guys get rousted. >click to read<15:57

Shrimp – Record Lows in Louisiana and Florida-and a Near Record High in Texas-Close Out 2018

The Fishery Monitoring Branch of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center released shrimp landings data from the Gulf of Mexico for December 2018 and January 2019. For December, NOAA reported that 6.5 million pounds of shrimp were landed in the Gulf of Mexico, down from 6.9 million pounds last year, and 24.4 percent below the prior eighteen-year historical average of 8.6 million pounds. The decline in landings for the month was due to low shrimp landings in Louisiana and on the west coast of Florida. >click to read<21:04

Coast Guard, NOAA terminate voyage for illegal fishing in Tortugas Ecological Reserve

The Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration terminated the voyage of the 83-foot commercial fishing vessel, Lady Kristie, with three people aboard Thursday after discovering multiple violations near Tortugas Ecological Reserve. Fishing in an ecological reserve violates NOAA regulations. At approximately 12:30 a.m. the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo (WPC-1112) crew detected the Lady Kristie within a protected area. >click to read<17:08

Barnhill opens Got Ice, Inc.

Eddie Barnhill, a third generation Pine Island fisherman, has sold his boats and traps and started a new business, Got Ice, Inc. The Barnhill family has been fishing from Pine Island since Eddie Barn-hill’s grandfather, Alfred Barnhill, arrived here from Punta Gorda. His father, Edward Sr., also fished his entire life and that was Eddie’s plan to fish until he turned the business over to his sons. >click to read<10:15

Gulf of Mexico: 14-year Taylor Energy oil leak could be two times larger than BP spill

A toppled oil platform that has been leaking into the Gulf of Mexico for more than 14 years may have released much more oil than recent estimates have indicated, possibly pushing the total volume well beyond BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. New research indicates 2,100 to 71,400 gallons of oil are escaping each day from the Taylor Energy platform site, about 10 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River. The high estimate of 71,400 gallons per day is more than two times larger than the highest potential rate cited by the Coast Guard when it ordered Taylor to fix the problem late last year. >click to read<10:24

US Pelagic Trawler Picks TMC compressors

Shipbuilder Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors has awarded TMC Compressors of the Seas (TMC) a contract to deliver a complete marine compressed air system for the 100 m long Rolls-Royce designed pelagic trawler the yard is building for Seattle based Arctic Storm Management Group. According to a press release from the Louisiana-based Thoma-Sea, which designs, constructs, and delivers vessels, tugs, and ships for the commercial marine sector,,, >click to read<20:23

Reintroduced Shark Trade Bill Promotes Successful U.S. Conservation Policies at Policies at Global Level

The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2019 – A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House advances global shark conservation by ensuring that all shark and ray products imported into the United States meet the same high ethical and sustainability standards required of American fishermen. The bill has broad support from conservation groups, zoos, aquariums and the fishing industry. >click to read<13:14

Coast Guard rescues fisherman who fell overboard near South Padre Island, Texas

The Coast Guard rescued a man who fell overboard off a 65-foot shrimping vessel near South Padre Island, Texas, Saturday afternoon. A Coast Guard Station South Padre Island boat crew on a routine patrol witnessed a crewmember fall off the 65-foot shrimping vessel Morgan Rae. The boat crew recovered the crewmember and transferred him back onto the vessel. There are no reported injuries. -USCG- 10:02

Agency encourages shrimpers to sign up for bycatch study

State fisheries officials have extended a deadline for Louisiana shrimpers to participate in a study that aims to monitor how much of other types of seafood get caught in trawlers’ nets. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries opened the application process in September and initially had set a Dec. 3 deadline for shrimpers to sign up. The agency has now extended the deadline to Feb. 4. “The voluntary study was requested by the shrimp industry to collect bycatch data during commercial shrimping trips throughout state waters,” the agency says in a news release. “The study supports the sustainability certification of Louisiana’s shrimp fishery, permitting Louisiana shrimp access to additional markets.” >click to read<12:13

Heart of Louisiana: Cajun Christmas

A Christmas display in downtown Morgan City got a major upgrade this year with help from Hollywood. An Emmy Award-winning special effects artist has turned the town’s landmark shrimp boat into Christmas on the bayou. “It looks amazing,” said Kendra Dupre. “We’re art teachers. We’re from Houma, but we’re originally from this area. It’s just amazing to see such technique. Everything is so detailed.” The new, larger-than-life Cajun Christmas figures have taken over the town’s iconic shrimp boat, parked here in a highway median for decades. The display is a Christmas gift from Morgan City native Lee Romaire, who owns a Hollywood special effects studio. Video,>click to read<11:08

Fishing overhaul draws praise from various sides, What are your thoughts?

An overhaul of federal fishing regulations approved Monday by the U.S. Senate is drawing praise from groups on competing sides of the long-running issue. The bill, which now heads to the House, was the subject of months of debate and compromise among lawmakers, commercial and recreational fishing interests and environmentalists. “Passage of the Modern Fish Act will boost our conservation efforts and benefit the local economies that depend on recreational fishing,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the bill’s sponsor, said in a news release. “I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill passed, but there is still more work to be done. I look forward to continuing our efforts to modernize federal fishing policies on the Gulf Coast and to support our fishermen.”>click to read<09:57

‘The Worst I’ve Ever Seen It’: Lean Stone Crab Season Follows Red Tide in Florida

On a good day, in a good year, a captain fishing off the shores of the Florida Everglades might catch 400 pounds of one of the state’s unrivaled delicacies, the stone crab. These are not good days. As the sun began to set on a recent cloudless afternoon, the kind that makes it unthinkable to spend winters anywhere but in Florida, Rick Collins piloted the High Cotton to a dock in Everglades City, the fishing village where three generations of his family have made a living trapping stone crab. His crew offloaded the day’s haul onto a huge scale. Seventy-three pounds. “This is about the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Mr. Collins, 69, a crabber for more than half a century. >click to read<13:37

Louisiana: State begins coast-wide effort to sustain fisheries hit by wetland erosion, restoration projects

State officials have embarked on a coast-wide effort to partner with the commercial and recreational fishing industry to find ways to make fishing more sustainable in the future, even as some state projects aimed at restoring coastal wetlands and land threaten fisheries and fishers. Representatives of Louisiana Sea Grant, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority told members of the authority’s board on Wednesday (Dec. 12) that a joint fishing industry adaptation program begun earlier this year is aimed at listening to fishers and incorporating their ideas in any future adaptation plans. >click to read<12:22

Commission denies commercial fishing expansion in Hernando Beach

A proposal to expand commercial fish processing into the center of Hernando Beach was unanimously denied Tuesday by the Hernando County Commission. The proposal by Hernando Beach Seafood, which operates commercial fish and stone crab processing on Calienta Street near the main Tarpon Canal, would have moved its stone crab operation to a site on Shoal Line Boulevard where the company’s crab boats moor just off the Marlin Canal. The company needed the new processing site to reduce crowding at the Calienta location, where shrimp and crab boats cross each other when stone crabs are in season, according to spokesman Allen Sherrod. >click to read<22:46

Car was engulfed in flames after violent crash. Watch fishermen pull out the driver.

Jim Biggart says his brother Andy might not be alive today if it weren’t for the fishermen who rushed to pull him from his burning car. “My entire family will never be able to repay the debt to those people for saving Andy’s life,” The collision — which was so strong that the car immediately burst into flames — happened outside of the Nature Coast Marina in Hernando Beach. Kathryn Birren, who owns the marina, told the media company Storyful that the fishermen there heard a crash and went outside to look. >click to read<13:36

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Years after Deepwater Horizon, Offshore Drilling Hazards Persist

This is part one of a three-part investigation into offshore drilling safety. >Read part two here. Read part three here.< They are known as the “last line of defense” against an offshore drilling blowout and uncontrolled spill. They are supposed to save the lives of oil workers and protect the environment. But, as the Trump Administration proposes weakening safety requirements for these critical defenses, a Project On Government Oversight investigation found that they are dangerously vulnerable to failure. In an emergency, the defenses known as “blowout preventers” are meant to choke off the flow of highly pressurized gas and oil rising through well pipes from deep beneath the ocean floor. However, far from being fail-safe, blowout preventers have failed in myriad and often unpredictable ways. So have the people responsible for maintaining and operating them. >click to read<17:42

California man convicted in violent offshore stabbing incident

When the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kingfisher pulled up to the commercial fishing vessel Billy B 46 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico on the night of Aug. 20, 2017, the crew found Captain Noah Gibson and deckhand A.J. Love floating in the dark water, clinging to a life raft and each bleeding from multiple stab wounds. What had started as a routine fishing trip out of Bon Secour ended in a nightmare for the men after Christopher Shane Dreiling stabbed them in a delusional attack and forced them bleeding into the Gulf waters. Last week, Dreiling was convicted in federal court on two counts of assault with intent to commit murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. >click to read<18:38

Where did all the lobsters and stone crabs go? How the fishing industry is bouncing back

The red tide algae bloom plaguing Southwest Florida hasn’t hit the Florida Keys. And Hurricane Irma happened more than a year ago. But they’re both affecting the island chain’s commercial fishing industry. That’s a crucial impact because the industry is the second-largest stand-alone economic generator in the Keys next to tourism. Fishing is estimated by the Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association to bring in about $900 million a year to the Monroe County economy. That includes transactions such as fuel sales, dockage fees, and boat and engine repairs. >click to read<18:13

‘Dead zone’ worsens troubles for Louisiana shrimpers

Tommy Olander Jr. took his first baby steps on the deck of a 42-by-16-foot Lafitte skiff shrimp trawler. His dad, Thomas Olander, named the boat Tommy Boy after his son, now 25.
“I’d rather be broke and shrimping than get out of it,”,, But Olander did leave the business,,, The Louisiana shrimp industry is facing major economic and environmental challenges including low prices for shrimp, natural disasters, laws to protect endangered turtles and a Delaware-size dead zone with too little oxygen for aquatic life. “The main focus has been about prices,” said Acy Cooper, 58, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association. “But there’s also (turtle excluder devices), the dead zone and freshwater diversion.” >click to read<10:09

Florida Shrimp Boat Deck-Hand Arrested For Undersized Lobster Tails

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, officers boarded the commercial shrimp boat Three Princess off Key West on November 28. While onboard, the officers found three large sacks of spiny lobster hidden beneath sacks of shrimp in the below-deck freezer. In total, there were 101 spiny lobster, and 33 of them were undersized. A deck-hand admitted to harvesting all of the lobster, without the other deck-hands knowledge. The crewmember was arrested and booked into the Monroe County Detention facility on numerous misdemeanor charges. >click to read<09:29

Commercial fisherman changes tactics to keep boat full amid evolving landscape

At 4:30 a.m., Tony Keehbauch is up for work to get his day started. By 5:30 a.m., he’s out the door, heading to the fish house to unload the previous day’s catch, a day that ended less than 12 hours earlier at sunset. Keehbauch gets his Carolina Skiff reloaded with fuel and a fresh load of ice before heading off to a variety of destinations along the west coast of Florida to start another day of commercial fishing. “I started chasing mullet in 1994 and learned how to make my own cast nets,” said Keehbauch, who moved to Florida from Michigan in 1986. “I’ve always been able to catch fish good, it’s in my blood or something. “I went full time commercial fishing about five years ago when I discovered I could make a living hook and line fishing.” >click to read<19:19

Falling overboard is the second biggest killer of U.S. fishermen, second only to vessel sinkings.

From 2000 through 2016, 204 fishermen died after falling overboard. Nearly 60 percent were not witnessed and nearly 90 percent were never found. In every case, not one fisherman was wearing a life jacket. “I think there is a social stigma against it. It doesn’t look cool, it’s a sort of macho thing. I also think there is a lack of awareness of the fact that there are really comfortable, wearable PFDs.” Jerry Dzugan is director of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association. >audio report, click to read<16:32

Gulf of Mexico Shrimp harvest reaches the lowest level recorded since October 2002

Commercial shrimp harvest reached 10.4 million pounds in the Gulf of Mexico for October 2018, the lowest reported for any October in the records maintained by the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) going back to 2002. According to data from the Fishery Monitoring Branch of NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center, in total, landings for the month were roughly 30 per cent below the prior sixteen-year historical average for the month. >click to read<12:13

Coast Guard orders Taylor Energy to stop 14-year Gulf of Mexico oil leak

The Coast Guard is coming down hard on the owners of a broken oil platform that has been allowed to leak off southeast Louisiana for more than 14 years. New federal estimates put the leak rate at the Taylor Energy Co. well at 10,500 gallons to 29,000 gallons of oil per day. That’s five to 13 times larger than government’s estimate from just a year ago, and would rank the Taylor Energy leak as one of the largest and longest-running oil spills in North America. >click to read<18:36

Start of stone crab season in Cortez is worst in recent memory

Theories abound but one thing is for sure: The current stone crab season is off to one of its worst starts in recent memory for the oldest active fishing village in Florida. It’s that bad. “There’s nothing. There’s no crabs around because it’s all dead,” said John Banyas, a fourth-generation fisherman from Cortez.“The latest from our 400 trap haul was only 4 pounds, a record low in these local waters,” said Banyas, 52, who is also the owner of Cortez Bait & Seafood Inc., Swordfish Grill & Tiki Bar and Cortez Kitchen. >click to read<07:42

To our valued readers here at Fishery Nation.

To our valued readers here at Fishery Nation. You have probably noticed recently there have been no postings on our website. I’m sorry to say that I have recently taken ill and have been hospitalized for the past week in the intensive care unit of my local hospital.
As you know, I’ve made it a priority in my life to keep you all informed on the goings on in our commercial fisheries here in the US and also abroad with stories and information that we feel is important to you, and also stories of interest. For the past seven years we have fulfilled this goal 365 days a year, every single day!
Please bear with me as we get through this situation and I am able to get back on my feet and continue what has become my passion, and mission in life, to keep the commercial fishermen informed and up to date as to the goings on in your industry.
If all goes well this will be a short period of time and I’ll soon be on my feet and able to get back at it.
Thank you one and all for your support and understanding. God bless you all, stay safe out there and please stay in touch with us.

Sincerely,

Borehead

Disappointing early catches for area stone crabbers

The fishermen started putting their traps into the water on Oct. 5, and on Oct. 15, they began to legally harvest the first of the season’s claws and offer them for sale. With disappointing early catches from the first few days of pulling the traps, the crabbers will leave the traps in the Gulf longer to give the crabs time to fill them, said Pat Kirk of Kirk Fish Company in Goodland. Her husband, Damas Kirk, is a fifth-generation local fisherman, whose great aunt was Tommie Barfield, an icon in Marco Island history. Damas Kirk said the local crabbers are in serious need of finding and harvesting a bountiful catch. “These guys are needing a paycheck pretty bad right now,” he said >click to read<18:11