Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

14-year-old boats massive bluefin tuna out of Grand Isle

On the hit television show Wicked Tuna, grown men take turns battling bluefin tuna, many times for hours each, and the fish frequently pop lines or pull hooks. The Northeast U.S. anglers should just hire 14-year-old Kaleb Richardson. The Lafayette youngster was fishing with his father, Keith, and friends aboard Keith Richardson’s 58-foot Jarrett Bay Saturday when Kaleb landed an 835-pound bluefin in 55 minutes, louisianasportsman.com reported. The crew was fishing out of Grand Isle on a multi-day trip to the Green Canyon. The crew was fishing out of Grand Isle on a multi-day trip to the Green Canyon. The excursion started successfully, with the anglers leadering, tagging and releasing a 500-pound blue marlin on Thursday. Things slowed down after that, so the crew headed to the Neptune platform Saturday. click here to read the story 09:53

Illicit Business – Are Louisiana’s anglers selling their recreationally caught speckled trout?

When fish are getting yanked into the boat almost as quickly as an angler can get a lure in the water, the fun sometimes overcomes discretion, and that same angler will wonder what he’s going to do with all that meat after he fillets the fish. Some eat what they can and give the rest away, while others load up their freezers with fillets packed in Ziploc bags that they’ll throw out in two years. But another smaller minority will sell their catch to restaurants, seafood markets or acquaintances. It’s common dock talk among anglers that some of their cohorts have even put their kids through college with money raised from selling recreationally caught fish, particularly speckled trout. click here to read the story 15:24

Lafourche fisherman sues BP, alleging injuries from oil spill cleanup

A man from Cut Off is suing BP, alleging he has suffered severe injuries since he was exposed to crude oil and dispersants while working in oil spill cleanup after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. Levy Brunet Jr. filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. He names BP PLC, BP Exploration and Production and BP America Production Co. as defendants. According to the lawsuit, the defendants chartered Brunet’s commercial fishing and shrimping boat in May 2010 for the Vessel of Opportunity Program to help with cleanup from Deepwater Horizon. The plaintiff worked in the program until October 2010.,, Brunet alleges he was exposed to “massive quantities of crude oil, crude oil vapors, dispersants that were being injected into the well site and/or sprayed onto the surface of the water, other gasses or chemicals being released by the uncontrolled well release, as well as fumes from the burning of all these materials, which caused the release of noxious fumes and/or particles.” click here to read the story 09:52

Is the United States ready for offshore aquaculture?

Harlon Pearce walks muck-booted past processors gutting wild drum and red snapper to showcase a half-full new 5,000-square-foot (500-square-meter) freezer he hopes will someday house a fresh boom of marine fish. Harlon’s LA Fish sits just across the railroad tracks from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, perfectly positioned to ship fish out of Louisiana. As president of the New Orleans–based Gulf Seafood Institute, seafood supplier Pearce is a big fish himself in these parts, connected to fishermen, federal agencies, restaurateurs and even the oil industry. He knows better than anyone that wild fisheries alone can’t supply U.S. consumers’ growing demand for fish. Which is why he’s doing his best to bring everyone to the table to achieve one goal: farming the Gulf of Mexico. click here to read the story 16:31

Mystery shrouds the death of a Tarpon Springs fishing captain

It began as a fishing trip like any other. Gregory Lasnier stocked the commercial fishing boat he captained with ice, bait and groceries. He waited for a deckhand who never showed. A friend hugged him goodbye. On Feb. 16, he set off alone, leaving his dock behind Holiday Seafood off Island Drive and steering the Daniel I into to the Gulf of Mexico as he had so many times before. It was a fishing trip like any other, until it wasn’t. The Coast Guard found Lasnier dead in the boat’s pilot house Feb. 26, on the other side of the Florida peninsula, hundreds of miles from any of his normal fishing spots. What happened on board the Daniel I during those 10 days remains a mystery. There is no body. There is no autopsy. There is no boat. Coast Guard responders said they couldn’t recover any of it. The boat was taking on water, and conditions were unsafe. They believe the Daniel I sunk off the coast of Sebastian Inlet south of Melbourne, although even that part of the story is unclear. But one thing is certain: The sea became his graveyard, the boat his casket. click here to read the story 11:29

Who gets the fish? Support H.R. 200 – The “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act”

Capt. Chuck Guilford has been searching the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for the bounty of the sea for 41 years. When Guilford started his career as charter boat captain and commercial fisherman there wasn’t a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and he said the fisherman handled the fishery themselves. Now Guilford feels as if he has no control. He used to go to the meetings of the NMFS as far away as Washington D.C., but he’s missed the last two. “I haven’t attended last two meetings because it was a waste of my dollars and my time,” Guilford said. “I have finally come to the conclusion after 10 years of attending meeting, that when the Marine Fisheries Council has a meeting they have already decided what they are going to do.” Some of Guilford’s concerns may soon be answered. The “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act” or H.R. 200 would amend the “Magnuson-Stevens Act” which is currently the law of the fisheries. The amendment would have NMFS take in account the economic costs of regulation, allow for greater community involvement, greater transparency in procedure and collected data, a limitation on future catch-share programs, and independent privately funded fish stock assessment to be used when available. click here to read this article, and contact your representative and TELL them to support HR 200 07:24

Coast Guard rescues 3 from grounded shrimp boat near Pass Cavalo, Texas

A Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted three men off of a disabled shrimp boat that grounded early Tuesday morning near Pass Cavalo, about 5 miles southeast of Port O’Connor. Monday at 11:21 p.m., Calhoun County Sherrif’s office called Sector Corpus Christi watchstanders and reported the F/V Scatterbrain, a 67-foot shrimp boat with three people aboard, had become disabled and was adrift and dragging anchor. Due to shallow water depth, Coast Guard boat crews were unable to reach the men. Air Station Corpus Christi helicopter crews arrived at 4:17 a.m. and hoisted hoisted them to safety. They were taken to Calhoun County Airport with no injuries. The Coast Guard is working with the owner of the boat to safely recover it and prevent environmental impacts. click here to watch video 17:21

Seafood Harvesters of America oppose bill that re-examines fisheries allocations

A new bill focused on recreational fishing has drawn strong opposition from the nation’s largest organization of commercial seafood harvesters. The Seafood Harvesters of America (Catch Share Club) claims that the bill would hamstring federal regional fishery councils’ ability to manage the fishery sector and most species, while also limiting the ability to innovate new solutions to overfishing. The bill was submitted April 6 and would change the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. It allows for alternative management of waters for recreational fishing, re-examines fisheries allocations and establishes exemptions to certain catch limits. The bill would require regular review of catch allocations, which recreational fishermen say have historically benefited commercial fishermen. The harvesters group released a statement late Sunday voicing concern about the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017. The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Garret Graves, R-La.; Gene Green, D-Texas; Daniel Webster, R-Fla.; and Rob Wittman, R-Va. click here to read the story 14:07

Two inshore shrimpers busted for fishing during closed season, one with running lights off

Due to the unseasonably warm winter and spring, brown shrimp have grown quickly in Louisiana’s marshes, and some shrimpers have been trying to get a jump on their competition. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents say they busted two shrimpers Saturday who were using skimmer nets in English Bay near Buras even though the inshore season won’t open for several more weeks. According to the department, the men were pulling their nets at 10:30 p.m. without the boat’s navigation lights on. Agents cited John Berthelot, 37, of Covington, and Juan Cruz, 38, of Marrero, for using skimmers during a closed season. Agents also cited Berthelot for improper navigation lights. click here to read the story 10:08

New Louisiana state sales tax law takes area’s commercial fishermen by surprise

The new schedule of items exempted from Louisiana sales taxes – and those which are not – includes loss of protection for people who buy antique airplanes and have other esoteric interests. But it also suspends, for now, the exemption on paying sales tax for commercial fishermen, on items like nets and other equipment essential to their trade. “Oh my God,” was the reaction offered by Trudy Luke of Houma, whose family buys crabs and seafood, and harvests the products as well.,, “Jay Morris doesn’t even know anything about the seafood industry nor does he care about Louisiana to do what he did,” said Kimberly Chauvin of the David Chauvin Seafood Company in Dulac, whose family also operates fishing vessels. “In my opinion, it’s time to let him know that we exist. I’m going to get all of his contact information. Then we need to flood his offices with emails and phone calls … We are one of the only industries that deal with the flood of imports year after year.” Click here to read the story 11:24

Snapper silliness still has anglers seeing red

The bumper sticker on the white Ford pickup truck could not have been more clear: “National Marine Fisheries Service: Destroying Fishermen and Their Communities Since 1976!” Poignant. Harsh, even. But tame by today’s standards. The sticker made me think of an issue affecting offshore bottom fishermen who depart inlets between the Treasure Coast and South Carolina. I’m no mathematician, but something fishy is going on with red snapper statistics. Red snapper, a larger cousin of mutton snapper and mangrove snapper, resides in waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It is presently off limits to harvest by east coast anglers, and has been since 2010. The reason? Because 10 years ago, fisheries statisticians determined that the red snapper fishery was “undergoing overfishing.” Along with “jumbo shrimp,” that expression is still one of my all-time favorite oxymorons. click to continue reading the story here 08:28

Louisiana not ready for early shrimp opener, Shrimp fishermen agree

While shrimp conditions are good this year, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Commission isn’t ready to open the spring season early. Commission members said at their meeting today in Baton Rouge that they want more data before setting the dates for the season. Nearly all of the shrimpers at the meeting said they would rather wait for the season to open at the normal time so the shrimp can grow to be larger. The spring shrimp season usually opens in mid to late May. LDWF biologist Jeff Marx said data he’s collected show better conditions than in previous years. Shrimp size, growth and development generally depend on the amount of rainfall, the temperature and salinity level of the water. But shrimpers spoke against an early season. click here to continue reading the story 13:34

Coast Guard medevacs man, 19, from shrimping boat

The Coast Guard medevacked a 19-year-old man Wednesday from a shrimping boat 7 miles west of Egmont Key. At 10:07 a.m. watch standers from Sector St. Petersburg received a VHF-FM marine band radio channel 16 call from the captain of the 78-foot shrimping boat Sea Rider. He stated one of his crew members was experiencing chest pains and in need of emergency medical assistance. A flight surgeon was notified and recommended the 19-year-old be medevacked. The Coast Guard Cutter Tarpon crew and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Station Cortez were launched. The Tarpon crew initiated first aid on the man and coordinated with the Station Cortez crew for transport to Fort De Soto Bay Pier where EMS were waiting. The man was transferred to the EMS in stable condition. Click here to watch video 17:50

Houston restaurateur Bruce Molzan accused of operating illegal seafood network

A well-known Houston restaurateur has been accused of operating an illegal seafood network that allegedly funneled nearly 28,000 pounds of unlawfully-caught finfish through his restaurants. Texas game wardens allege that Bruce Molzan, 59, bought and then sold the illegal finfish off the menus at Ruggles Green and Ruggles Black. Molzan hasn’t been associated with Ruggles Green since 2016 but still owns Ruggles Black. In addition, another restaurant illegally sold shrimp to Molzan for use in his restaurants in violation of commercial fish wholesale regulations, according to investigators.  The illegal catches were made by a web of about a dozen unlicensed commercial fishermen and sold to the restaurants, according to Texas Parks & Wildlife investigators. Their catches consisted primarily of highly-regulated red snapper, along with other protected game fish species, including tuna, amberjack, grouper and red drum. click here to read the story 17:08

Coastal shark population on rise in southeast U.S, Gulf of Mexico

A recent analysis of population trends among coastal sharks of the southeast U.S. shows that all but one of the seven species studied are increasing in abundance. The gains follow an enactment of fishing regulations in the early 1990s after decades of declining shark numbers. Scientists estimate that over-fishing of sharks along the southeast U.S. coast—which began in earnest following the release of Jaws in 1975 and continued through the 1980s—had reduced populations by 60-99 percent compared to unfished levels.,, The researchers say their study—based on modeling of combined data from six different scientific surveys conducted along the US East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico between 1975 and 2014—provides a more accurate and optimistic outlook than previous studies based on commercial fishery landings or surveys in a single location. Read the article here 11:00

Shrimper shortage: Lack of foreign workers puts Texas shrimp industry in bind

The Texas shrimp industry, struggling for years against high fuel prices and cheap foreign imports, faces a new crisis: a major shortage of the temporary foreign workers that boat owners and processing plants depend on to operate. The shortage is the result of Congress not renewing the H-2B Returning Worker Program when it expired at the end of September. Congress created the exemption in 2015 to help industries like seafood, landscaping and hospitality fill essential jobs.The exemption was established after the government in 2005 instituted an annual cap of 66,000 H-2B foreign worker visas, in response to a surge in H-2B applications from employers since the program started during the late 1980s. The cap is divided equally among the two halves of the fiscal year — 33,000 the first half and 33,000 the last. As part of the H-2B application process, the government requires employers first to advertise the jobs to U.S. workers. In the case of the shrimp industry, however, it’s very difficult to find U.S. workers willing to do the work. The Rio Grande Valley’s shrimp industry increasingly has had to rely on shrimp boat workers from Mexico, who tend to have experience and in some cases have worked on the same U.S. boats for two decades or more. continue reading the story here 15:12

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting April 3-6, 2017 in Burmingham

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet April 3-6, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham – The Winfrey Hotel, located at 1000 Riverchase Galleria, Birmingham, Alabama 35244. The meeting will convene on the following days and local times: View Council Agenda View Briefing Materials Register for April Council Webinar  19:31

SB-884: Florida lawmakers back bill setting big fines for ‘finning’ sharks

A Florida Senate panel approved legislation Wednesday to levy large fines on commercial fishermen caught carrying illegally harvested shark fins. Federal and state rules already ban finning – cutting off sharks’ fins and leaving the mutilated fish dying at sea. But there’s a legal market for fins, and in 2011 there were 96 tons of fins nationally that were shipped somewhere, either as imports or exports, according to a 2015 federal report. The bill, SB-884, approved by the appropriations subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee would require an automatic $5,000 administrative fine and a 180-day suspension of saltwater fishing licenses the first time a commercial shark fisherman is found with a severed fin. The fine would become $10,000 for a second offense and on the third time, the fisherman would be fined $10,000 and have his saltwater licenses permanently revoked. Read the story here, 14:42

How a Floating Bale of Cocaine Led to the Florida Keys’ Worst Murder in Decades

The Florida Keys are many things: a sun-bleached playground for the ultrarich, a blue-collar home to thousands of fishermen and hospitality workers, a rural chain of coral rock emerging just above the rising seas. There are ugly bar fights and plenty of drugs. But there’s hardly any gun violence. A young couple brutally executed a few feet from their young children? Never. Rosado and Ortiz’s mysterious killing on October 15, 2015, sent locals from Key Largo to Islamorada into a panic and left sheriff’s deputies scrambling. Detectives would follow a trail of violence and blackmail for months before divining its source: Jeremy Macauley, a fisherman with a troubled past who’d found a bale of pure cocaine floating in the turquoise sea. Months later, a prosecutor’s suicide and a surprise jailhouse interview would further muddy the tale. continue reading the story here 11:57

Getting a Jump on the Competition! Two busted for shrimping in closed state waters

Two shrimpers got a jump on their competition Friday by dropping nets in an area where the season hasn’t opened yet, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reported Monday. Enforcement agents say they spotted Hoang Nguyen, 55, of Katy, Texas, and Nile Franklin, 52, of Gretna actively shrimping inside state waters southeast of Marsh Island Refuge. The area is in Iberia Parish. Agents boarded the boat and found shrimp onboard as well as shrimp in the nets, the department said. The live shrimp were returned to the water, but the 3,409 pounds of sacked shrimp found onboard were seized and sold at the dock, according to the department. continue reading the story here 09:52

Shrimp boat tangles with a bridge in South Florida

A visitor to a Southwest Florida bridge captured video of a shrimp boat attempting to pass under the structure and temporarily getting stuck. Abraham Arrasola was streaming video on Facebook Live when the shrimp boat attempted to pass under the Matanzas Pass Bridge in Fort Myers. The boat makes contact with the bridge and ends up stuck for a few minutes before it is able to continue on its way. Arrasola said he could see pieces of the bridge falling as the boat worked to free itself. The extent of the damage to the bridge and the boat was unclear. Link 12:33

Zurik: Snapper barons slam FOX 8 probe, but Trump admin. may think otherwise

An alliance of fishermen who make millions off a public resource wants us to retract all our stories from our “Hooked Up” series. The series showed how 50 fishermen can make $23 million a year from red snapper, and many never even drop a line in the water. The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance and its executive director, Buddy Guindon, sent us a 23-page letter, calling our stories sloppy and biased. Many of the complaints focus on statements made by subjects we interviewed for our stories. They include 20 separate citations of comments in our series by Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana.,, Graves says he’s heard from congressmen from all over the country since our five-part series was broadcast. He thinks now is the time to change the system.,,,While the group of 50 fishermen have been unhappy with our reports, we’ve heard from dozens of others with positive comments, like a Florida commercial fisherman who wrote, “Your report hit home with all our concerns in regards to how unfair the small commercial fishermen are being treated and wrongly represented.”Read the story here 12:32

East Naples boat captain accused of smuggling immigrants in Florida Keys

An East Naples charter boat captain arrested Sunday off the Florida Keys faces human smuggling charges. Federal agents said they found 11 people from three Caribbean countries below deck on his boat. None of the 11 were U.S. citizens, agents said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection air and marine officers said they were on patrol in Tavernier Creek about 3 p.m. Sunday when they came across Richard Karl Mork’s disabled boat and two personal watercraft approaching the boat with two gas cans. Officers boarded the boat about 3:30 p.m. and found 11 passengers, including two unaccompanied minors, below deck, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Homeland Security Department in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The vessel, named “Scout,” was found about 2 nautical miles from Tavernier, south of Key Largo. Read the story here 21:15

Coast Guard medevacs man from fishing boat 38 miles west of Egmont Key

The Coast Guard medevacked a fisherman Tuesday from a commercial fishing boat 38 miles west of Egmont Key. At 6:10 p.m. watch standers from Sector St. Petersburg received a VHF-FM marine band radio call from the captain of the commercial fishing vessel Miss Brianna, stating he suffered an injury to his leg and was in need of emergency medical attention. A flight surgeon was notified and recommended the man be medevacked. Video, click here 12:15

Oversight Hearing on Examining the Creation and Management of Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries Wednesday, March 15, 2017 10:00 AM

Oversight Hearing on: “Examining the Creation and Management of Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries”  Click here to read the memo  Witnesses and Testimony: Dr. John Bruno Professor, Department of Biology University of North Carolina, Mr. Chett Chiasson Executive Director Greater Lafourche Port Commission,  Mr. Brian Hallman Executive Director American Tunaboat Association, The Honorable Jon Mitchell Mayor City of New Bedford Click here @ 10:00am and listen to the hearing. 19:05

Coast Guard medevacs 2 men from fishing vessel off Panama City

The Coast Guard medevaced two men from a commercial fishing vessel approximately 50 miles offshore of Panama City, Florida, Friday. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Mobile received a report of two injured crewmembers aboard the fishing vessel Capt. Gorman III at about 7:00 p.m. A 50-year-old male suffered lacerations near his left eye and right hand, and a 55-year-old male suffered a laceration to his neck. Watchstanders directed the launch of an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, who hoisted the patients and transported them to Bay Medical Sacred Heart in Panama City. The cause of the incident is under investigation. link 12:29

Small Scale: Two Scoops Bait Company allows anglers to spend less time looking for bait

“During the week it’s mostly guides, but on Fridays and weekends it’s a lot of guys,” said Trey Daugherty, owner and operator of Two Scoops Bait Company. “Each day more recreational guys call me, and they definitely keep me busy throughout the day.” Daugherty started his bait-selling business in the spring of last year and was so successful he picked up right where he left off early last week. As the demand for scaled sardines and other finned live bait from anglers increases, Daugherty finds himself needing to increase his supply to keep up with rising demand. “Some days I’m spending four or five hours catching bait. I’m catching about 300 to 400 dozen everywhere from Fort DeSoto all the way to Port Manatee. It’s been tough recently, and I think that’s why a lot of guys come to me,” Daugherty says. continue reading the story here 12:11

Coast Guard medevacs skipper from fishing boat in the Gulf

The Coast Guard medevacked a 29-year-old man Friday from a 72-foot commercial fishing vessel 23 miles southwest of Sanibel. At 4:30 a.m. watch standers from Sector St. Petersburg received a VHF-FM marine band radio call from the captain of the commercial fishing vessel Sea Explorer, stating he was experiencing chest pains and was in need of emergency medical attention. A flight surgeon was notified and recommended the man be medevacked. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Clearwater and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Station Fort Myers Beach were launched and the area’s Marine Emergency Response Team was activated. At 5:31 a.m. the Coast Guard boat crew arrived on scene with Lee County EMS aboard. The man was transported to Station Fort Myers Beach in stable condition where EMS awaited to transport him for further medical assistance. Link 13:03

Bill would extend shrimping season in portion of Mississippi Sound

A bill that would open part of the Mississippi Sound a month earlier than the traditional June start of shrimping season is headed to Gov. Phil Bryant. Shrimp season in the Sound south of the Intracoastal Waterway, which essentially divides the Sound, usually closes April 30. North of the Intracoastal Waterway, the season closes Dec. 31. If Bryant signs SB 2683, which was authored by Sen. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, the season in the part of the southern Sound that is east of the Gulfport ship channel could remain open year-round. Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Jamie Miller said the measure is aimed at helping the smaller shrimp boats that make up the majority of the Mississippi fleet. Those boats can’t go out as far as the larger, steel-hulled boats that can fish the deeper waters of the open Gulf. “It’s just another opportunity for those shrimpers who don’t have large boats,” he said. continue reading the story here 21:53

The Crab-Fishing Drug King of Everglades City

On a seafood pilgrimage to south Florida, Jamie Feldmar catches wind of drug-runners, false-bottom crab boats, and a tale so bizarre it could only be true. Maybe, Disclaimer: What I am about to tell you is all true…ish, though names have been changed to protect the guilty. I’ve fact-checked where possible, combing through newspaper archives to find evidence that supports the claims made within. But even now, months later, I still find myself questioning whether any of this was real, or if it was some kind of bizarro-world fever dream. So take everything in the account below with a grain of salt; treat it as my attempt to record a memory before it evaporates entirely. We’re en route to Everglades City because it is, according to the residents of Everglades City, the stone crab capital of the world. Dozens of crabbers are based there, supplying much of the country from October to May every year. read the story here 15:06

Crab ban timing aggravates fishermen – “It’s not too late. Give us an emergency opening.”

Crab fishermen are expressing frustration over how the state’s 30-day crab season moratorium was set for the weeks leading up to Lent when prices are higher. “Not during Lent, that’s what we’re saying. We don’t need to change the season, we need to change the date,” said Patrick Luke, a crab fisherman and the owner of P&S Seafood & Fuel in Dulac. Luke said crab fisherman wouldn’t be complaining if the closure was in October when prices are traditionally much lower. February is also “a period of time where we are allowed to pick up derelict crab traps. “So now you’re going to open back up this season, March 20, and you’re gonna have record crabs,” Luke said. “Say you had 50,000 pounds on that day. You’re gonna have like 500,000 pounds. The market can’t take it. So then what’s going to happen? The price is gonna drop. Who hurts? The fisherman.” Read the story here 10:58

Bait company’s freezer nearly empty. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has declared an emergency!

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has declared an emergency so the state’s one menhaden bait boat can begin fishing two weeks early. Louisiana Bait Products LLC officials say the emergency is that they’ve sold most of the 5,550 tons harvested last year, and don’t want to run out. “We had a pretty start to the crawfish season, so we’ve been selling a lot of our offseason inventory this year,” agent Shawn Switzer said Thursday from the office in Abbeville. Co-founder Daniel Edgar estimated Friday that Louisiana’s crawfish, crab and catfish industries use 37,500 to 50,000 tons of bait a year. Most is trucked in from Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey. “We are going to run out of bait before April,” Edgar said. Read the story here 08:38

Spiny Lobster season in the Florida Keys: Not as strong, not a disaster

One month remains in the regular lobster season but many of the traps put out by the Florida Keys commercial fleet are back on the hill — meaning pulled ashore until next summer. “We’re bringing in about 235 traps now from 200 feet of water,” Conch Key commercial fisherman Gary Nichols said Tuesday. “This season has been kind of fairly good,” Nichols reported from aboard his 43-foot boat. “It’s not as good as the last couple of years and the market has been softer.” Tom Hill at Key Largo Fisheries agreed, “It hasn’t been a bad year, but it’s not as robust as it has been. I think we have had less production than in the past few seasons.”,, The Asian market for live Florida lobster, which buoyed the fleet after the economic recession, remains a critical component of the fishing economy but was not as profitable as in the past seven to eight years. continue reading the story here 10:17

National Marine Fisheries Service Policy Directive – Catch Share Policy

PURPOSE The purpose of this policy is to encourage well-designed catch share programs to help maintain or rebuild fisheries, and sustain fishermen, communities and vibrant working waterfronts, including the cultural and resource access traditions that have been part of this country since its founding.  DEFINITION “Catch share” is a general term for several fishery management strategies that allocate a specific portion of the total allowable fishery catch to individuals, cooperatives, communities, or other entities. Each recipient of a catch share is directly accountable to stop fishing when its exclusive allocation is reached. The term includes specific programs defined in law such as “limited access privilege” (LAP) and “individual fishing quota” (IFQ) programs, and other exclusive allocative measures such as Territorial Use Rights Fisheries (TURFs) that grant an exclusive privilege to Continue reading this here 15:50

Louisiana’s crab bans spurred by changes in climate and habitat

South Louisiana’s blue crab population is on the decline, pummeled by environmental and man-made threats. Increased trapping, less rainfall, no recent hurricanes, wetlands loss, predators, oil spills, closing of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal and river-water diversions have taken their tolls. In response, Louisiana’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission last summer decided to ban crabbing and trap use for thirty days, starting on February 20 of this year.,, The state’s diversions of Mississippi River water to fend off oil from the BP spill, and separately as a way to rebuild wetlands, have pushed crab larvae and babies into the sea where predators loom, Lively said. At this point, it’s unclear which factors are most to blame for a decline in the state’s blue crabs, Jeffrey Marx, LDWF marine biologist and crab program manager, said last week. Less rainfall and ongoing predation on crabs are negatives, he noted. Predators include red and black drum, sea catfish, sheepshead and spotted sea trout. (very interesting) Read the article here 17:47

Apalachicola Advocates, Fishermen Continue Fight For Water

At the end of a river system that feeds booming Atlanta, and farms throughout Georgia and Alabama, sits Apalachicola Bay. The Army Corps of Engineers decides how much water flows here, where the river meets the Gulf. For years, Florida has argued it’s not getting its fair share, and the Bay and surrounding Franklin County are struggling because of it. T.J. Ward is a third generation fisherman who works at his family’s business in downtown Apalach. Over the past ten years, he’s seen the lack of freshwater take its toll, in the form of oyster predators. “One of those are, they call them snails, but we call them oyster drills, the locals do. And they eat oysters. And they’re even cannibalistic, so when they run out of oysters they’ll eat themselves. I mean they’re devastating. That’s one thing that’s killed the end of the bay that our oyster company’s on,” Ward said. Audio report, continue reading the story here 10:15

Shrimp industry grant proposed

The Texas Shrimp Association may be in line for a $300,000 grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which will distribute a portion of the billions of dollars in RESTORE Act money generated by fines paid out by BP stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The proposed grant is included in a draft project list of more than 200 Texas projects totaling $1.1 billion that were submitted for RESTORE Act funds. The list will go into creation of a draft “Multi-Year Implementation Plan,” which eventually will be posted in the Texas Register for a 45-day public comment period before a final MIP is developed. That document then will be submitted to the Treasury Department for final approval. In other words, the grant isn’t a done deal, though TSA Executive Director Andrea Hance is keeping her fingers crossed. TSA would use part of the money for marketing and promotion, part of it for consumer education and tourism — including shrimp tours for Winter Texans — and some of it for social media campaigns that market wild-caught Gulf shrimp directly to consumers as opposed to restaurants, she said.  Read the article here 08:53

Louisiana: Des Allemands crab fisherman says state closure is unfair

With a fast flick of his hand, Whitney Curole sent a large blue crab sailing into a white plastic basket as he sorted the last of the prized crustaceans at his Des Allemands dock operation. The crab flipped itself upright and extended its open claws in attack mode for a fight it obviously didn’t win. But Curole said he opposes the politics that he maintained are hurting his business as a commercial fisherman. Curole continued sorting the catch just in from a Houma crabber, delivered shortly before the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) closed the season on Monday (Feb. 20) for 30 days. The move also came with a year round ban on harvesting immature female crabs for commercial sale. Curole and LWFC agree crab numbers are down, but they disagree on why. Reaching into a box full of crabs, he withdrew several crabs with numerous missing legs. “These legs were eaten by fish,” Curole said displaying a crab with all its legs gone. “You leave them overnight in the traps and it will be full of them.” Read the article here 09:50

Louisiana Regulators to Close Blue Crab Fishery for Thirty Days

Crabbing in Louisiana comes to an abrupt halt Sunday night when a state imposed 30-day prohibition goes into effect. In an effort to protect against over-harvesting Louisiana’s crab population, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is shutting it down for a month. Many crab fishermen fear for their livelihood. “Six to eight weeks of no paychecks from crabbing,” said crabber Alvin Royes.”Maybe more depending on the weather. Traps have to be in by midnight Sunday night.” For about 1,500 Louisiana crabbers, that’s it in a nutshell. All crab traps are being picked up and stacked. Sunday night, crab fishermen will be out of work for a while. The 30-day prohibition is not a surprise to Louisiana crab fishermen, even if it is to a lot of other people. Last year, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries determined too many crabs were being harvested and the crab population was getting low. New regulations were instituted including restrictions on the harvest of immature female blue crabs and the 30-day ban on crabbing, beginning the third Monday in February of 2017, 2018 and 2019. Continue reading the article here 11:52

Bully-net lobster fishermen can get new commercial status

A new Florida commercial lobster license for bully-netters will come with a “Respectful Bully Netting” outreach campaign. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission members on Feb. 8 approved creation of a new bully-net endorsement for people who have a commercial endorsement for lobster.“Conflicts between waterfront homeowners and bully-netters” was cited as one concern about expanding the commercial lobster industry to include the netting technique. The increased use of bully nets for commercial lobstering “allows opportunities for young or new fishers and preserves the culture of participation in the Keys commercial lobster fishery”. Continue reading the story here 14:45

Door-to-door shrimp salesmen busted shorting customers

Most door-to-door shrimp purveyors volunteer to remove the heads from the crustaceans after a customer agrees to a sale. For many, that’s not just a nice thing to do. It’s so that the consumer can’t check the weight to see that he or she has been shorted. Complaints from customers about not getting what they paid for led to the bust of two door-to-door shrimp salesmen in Calcasieu Parish in the last week, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The department said its agents arrested Kenny Menard, 45, of Rayne, and Jessie Dupuis Jr., 43, of Lafayette, and charged them with theft by fraudulent sales, selling shrimp without a retail seafood license and failing to maintain records. Read the rest here 11:38

Council for Sustainable Fishing – First came ‘sea lords’ and now ‘snapper barons.’

About a year ago AL.com did an investigative report on the Gulf of Mexico commercial red snapper catch share program in which it called the top share holders ‘sea lords’ and those fishermen who had to pay them for the right to catch red snapper ‘serfs.’ Last week, WVUE-TV in New Orleans did a series of investigative reports on this same catch share program, one of which was entitled “’Snapper barons’ raking in riches from public resource.” These reports highlight what catch shares are all about — creating economic winners and losers, not fishery sustainability, with most fishermen and fishing communities on the losing end. A 2013 report by the Center for Investigative Reporting provides estimates that as many as 18,000 fishing jobs were lost and 3,700 vessels were no longer fishing in areas that had catch share programs. Read the press release here 11:18

Fisherman and landowners alleging harm from waste pits in lawsuit against owners of San Jacinto River superfund site

Rick Kornele and Charles Rayburn fished and crabbed as small boys on a sand bar near a popular boat ramp on the San Jacinto River- a site today blocked off by an imposing chain-link fence that’s plastered with warning signs in three languages. Rayburn remembers walking barefoot along the sand and wading into the murky water to catch crab. Kornele’s family often drove to the water’s edge in a station wagon and spent days long lazy days camping in the shadow of the highway bridge. As adults, both fished, boated and bought land near the river they loved. It wasn’t until 2005 that both men separately discovered that their favorite 1960s childhood fishing hole sat next to hidden pits where a Pasadena paper mill and its partners had deposited sludge laced with cancer-causing dioxins and PCBs. Continue reading the story here 16:22

Hooked Up!!! Sea lords and the secret votes that made them rich

The votes helped create the system that now allows 50 businesses and fishermen to control 81 percent of the nation’s commercial red snapper allocation. Those fishermen can make a total of $23 million every year. And the government gets nothing in return from the fishermen. “This is a public asset,” Congressman Garret Graves says. “You and I own this. The public owns this. You know, people always talk about [how] government needs to run like a business. Could you ever imagine a business saying, ‘Oh, here’s our inventory, and it’s free! You come in a grocery store, you take whatever you want.’ The vote predates Graves’ term in Washington. But last decade, Congress helped orchestrate it. The feds wanted to start what’s called an IFQ program, short for “individual fishing quota”. Fishermen would get an allocation to fish the entire year. Congress required three votes – first by a little-known public body called the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, an 11-member body that’s primarily appointed by the five Gulf states.  After the Gulf Council vote, Congress also required two votes by the commercial fishermen who already were permitted to fish for red snapper in the Gulf. And those are the votes that the federal government won’t let us see. Video, read the story here 11:09

North Pacific council director a possibility for Assistant Administrator position at NMFS replacing Eileen Sobeck

Chris Oliver, the executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for the past 16 years, didn’t ask for a consideration as the new assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service; rather, the most powerful fishing industry voices in the nation’s most profitable region asked. He doesn’t know if the new administration will offer it or if he’d want it if it did. Still, looking at his history, knowledge and reputation, he seems in many ways a natural fit. Oliver said when it became known that the current administrator, Eileen Sobeck, won’t be staying with the new administration, parts of the fishing universe aligned. In the North Pacific and elsewhere, catch share systems are a contentious issue; Oliver said in an interview he’s already had fisheries stakeholders from other regions probing for what his intent would be with their respective fisheries. Oliver’s answer sums up both his attitude and in part that of the new administration. “It’s not my call,” he said. “What makes sense in the North Pacific…may not make sense in New England, or in the Gulf of Mexico. Read the story here 10:47

Hooked Up!!! Catch Share Politics – ‘Sea Lords’ hook a congressional reformer

Steve Southerland agrees: He was something of a threat to some commercial fishermen. The former Florida congressman led the effort to change a federal program (catch shares) –  unknown to most taxpayers – that allows a handful of businesses and fishermen to make millions off a government resource, creating what some fisherman call “lords of the sea.” The government essentially decides who will be a successful commercial fisherman and who will not.” And it doesn’t matter how hard you work,” Southerland says. “It doesn’t matter, you know, how much money you have to… That you’ve borrowed. It’s all based on a philosophy. And if you believed in that philosophy, then you win.” Southerland took to the floor of Congress, trying to make changes. In response, the same commercial fishermen profiting off this government resource poured tens of thousands of dollars into the campaign account of Southerland’s congressional opponent. Those same fishermen contributed additional money to a political action committee called Ocean Champions that also went after Southerland. “I think that it was a group of fishermen that worked towards that,” says Galveston, Texas commercial fisherman Buddy Guindon. “Mostly guys out of Florida. I didn’t have much to do with it. I contributed a little money to them.” Video,  Read the story here 08:25

Everglades National Park Superintendent suspends new fee after outcry

Following pushback from some local professional fishing guides, Everglades National Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos has suspended a new rule that would have required a per person fee for vessels entering federal waters in Florida Bay. Late last month, a park email was circulated that informed a handful of Upper Keys guides that enforcement of an entrance fee for people on vessels would begin in April. This included customers aboard a commercial boat, recreational anglers on a personal boat and kayakers. The park’s general management plan, which became effective last year after over a decade in the making, said that vessels in the future could be charged a per person fee. It didn’t have a specific date, though. Last month was the first many became aware of the plan to enforce it.  Currently, an entrance fee is paid only by those coming to the park by land.. Read the story here 11:32

Zurik: ‘Snapper barons’ raking in riches from public resource

On the tip of Louisiana’s coast, Dean Blanchard built his seafood business from nothing. “It’s what made America great, is hard-working, good people,” Blanchard says. But, he tells us, a few miles away from Grand Isle – on waters owned by taxpayers – a multi-million-dollar government handout functions like the opposite of the capitalism that helps put food on his table. “When Russia and China just let certain people do certain things, what do we call them? We call them communists. I mean, I don’t see no difference.” Blanchard is criticizing a federal program, unknown to most taxpayers, that allows a handful of businesses and fishermen to make millions off a government resource – creating what some fishermen call “Lords of the Sea.” But there’s more. Many of the shareholders don’t even fish. We spoke with Galveston’s Buddy Guindon, third on the list, who can make $1.4 million. “It’s a great asset,”,, You won’t read this stuff in a NOAA report!  Click here to watch the video and read the story along with interactive Top 15 IFQ Shareholder info graphs. 20:54

HOOKED UP! PART II: Gulf Council chief talks about IFQ’s

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council manages the fishery resources in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s one of eight regional fishery management councils in the United States.  The Gulf Council essentially manages the fishery from the nine-mile mark out to the 200-mile limit.  “Before the IFQ, we tried a variety of ways to address the race for fish that was taking place,” says Dr. Roy Crabtree, regional administrator for the Gulf Council. “We had a limited commercial quota for red snapper. The fishermen were catching it up as quick as they could. They were flooding the market with fish  Fishery was closed most of the year, so we didn’t have year-round production. And we had safety-at-sea issues. Because fishermen were fishing in unsafe sea conditions. And we were having overruns of quota. Crabtree says the IFQ program was designed largely to address these problems. The article continues here 18:00

HOOKED UP: Red snapper catch share allotment a “retirement plan” for many shareholders

The most controversial part of the Red Snapper IFQ program may be the part that allows shareholders to sell their yearly allocation.  It essentially turns some fishermen into businessmen. Our research has revealed about 120 shareholders – 37 percent of the whole – sell their entire allocation each year.  It allows the shareholders to make tens, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Galveston commercial fisherman Buddy Guindon defends these fishermen ”It’s his retirement,” he tells us. Slidell commercial fisherman Tommy Williams thinks some of the program needs to be tweaked, but he thinks these shares provide security for retirement fishermen “They worked for the shares,” Williams says. “They were out here, getting their hands cut, cut by fish, bit by fish, baiting hooks.  That is their retirement because most fishermen don’t have a 401(k). This is their 401(k).” FOX 8 News sent letters to the fishermen who appeared to be selling their yearly allocations.  We heard back from many of them. Read the story here 09:20

Newly discovered illegal reef off the coast of Lee County impacting shrimpers

An alert for one of Southwest Florida’s biggest industries after an illegal, manmade reef was discovered off the coast of Lee County. A shrimp net worth almost $2,000 was found tangled up in the illegal manmade reef. Fishermen discovered it about 9 miles off the shore of Fort Myers Beach – a place where many drop their nets to catch shrimp. Captain Mark Grunwale with Erickson and Jensen Shrimp Company spends weeks at a time fishing for shrimp with some pretty expensive equipment. “We know where a lot of them are at, but we didn’t know where this one was at,” Capt. Grunwale said. On Friday, divers from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office recovered a shrimp net caught in the illegal reef that not only impacted shrimpers but marine life as well. “There will be no knowing how it got there. This particular site is right in the middle of shrimp trolling lanes when they are coming out of Fort Myers Beach.” The net is believed to belong to a shrimp company out of Texas. Video, read the story here 19:38

Louisiana crabber busted twice with too many young females

A Violet commercial crabber failed to heed a warning about harvesting immature female crabs , and that resulted in a citation that could put him in jail for up to 60 days, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reported Thursday. On Jan. 20, enforcement agents say they found Allan Campo, 51, to be in violation of the state’s new crabbing regulations, and issued him a written warning. Less than two weeks later, however, agents were on patrol in Plaquemines Parish’s Shell Lake when they observed Campo actively crabbing, the department said. The agents stopped Campo, and found him to be in possession of two crates of crabs holding an illegal amount of immature female crabs, according to the department. Under new regulations, no more than 2 percent of a commercial crabber’s take may be immature females. Read the story here 10:48

Price spikes for jumbo shrimp blamed on Gulf of Mexico dead zone

Every spring and summer when the low-oxygen dead zone forms off Louisiana’s coastline, the price of jumbo shrimp briefly spikes, affecting Gulf of Mexico fishers, consumers and seafood markets, according to a new study published Monday (Jan. 30) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And the price for smaller shrimp generally falls. The positive effect of the price increase on jumbo shrimp for Gulf commercial shrimpers are fleeting, however. That’s because the rise often triggers increased imports of large shrimp from foreign producers, including farm-raised shrimp, which quickly drive down prices. The dead zone is an area of low oxygen — with levels of oxygen at or below 2 parts per million — that scientists define as hypoxia. Freshwater rich in nitrogen and phosphorus from Midwest farms and from nutrient-rich sewage from cities and rural areas enters the Gulf each spring and summer, forming a freshwater layer over the Gulf’s saltier sea water. Read the full story here 18:41

COASTAL CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Several private anglers and the Coastal Conservation Association, a group representing private anglers (collectively, CCA), appeal the district court’s summary judgment dismissal of their lawsuit, which challenged Amendment 40 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan and the Final Rule implementing that amendment. Because we find that Amendment 40 is consistent with its organic statute and was properly devised and implemented, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court. This dispute centers on the management of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. Read the complaint here 09:28

Wakulla Fishermen Losing Traditional Harvest Areas, Call for End to Leasing

Fishermen in Wakulla County are concerned about the rise in the amount of leases on their waters. The leases provide boundaries as to where fishermen can and cannot go to get fish. Poles and barriers indicate assigned zones. Some fishermen say their boats have been damaged by them, claiming poor visibility due to a lack of lighting and the tide changing sea levels. Fishermen say the state keeps giving leases out, which zones off territory they’ve used for years. “It’s killing all of us up here,” said Albert Hartsfield, vice president of the Wakulla Commercial Fishermen’s Association (WCFA). “They’ve blocked up channels and everything.” “Don’t put my guys out of business,” said John Taylor, president of the WCFA. “They need this water to make their livelihood.”  Video, Read the rest here 09:01

Fisherman facing life in prison after finding 20 kilo’s of cocaine at sea, setting up a distribution ring

The question is often light-heartedly posited among friends in coastal towns of what one would do if he were to discover a bail of washed-up narcotics. Local fisherman Thomas Zachary Breeding, 32, chose to distribute for sale the 20 kilograms of cocaine he found – and he advises you not do the same. “This changed my life and way of thinking and also made me aware of some of the dangers that can be found off shore in the Gulf,” Breeding wrote recently in a letter to The News Herald from the Washington County Jail, where he is being held to await his sentence for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. “I would like to let the public know the dangers and what not to do if this situation comes about.” Breeding was one of five individuals arrested in summer 2016 on charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. The group was indicted by a federal grand jury in September after Breeding found 20 kilograms of cocaine – the equivalent of about 45 pounds – while out at sea and set up a distribution network with the other people. Read the story here Another article, click here 16:16

Indicted: Bay seafood distributors charged for ‘fishy’ sales

A federal grand jury has indicted the owners of a local seafood distribution company on charges involving the illegal sale of red drum and spotted sea trout to Louisiana businesses in 2014 and 2015. Lonnie M. Ray  and Shelley H. Ray face the charges in U.S. District Court in Gulfport. The indictment, which was made public Thursday, shows both face charges of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to sell fish taken in violation of state laws and to cross state lines with those fish. Both face two counts each of Lacey Act violations. Lonnie Ray also faces a charge alleging he illegally possessed a short-barrel shotgun on June 17, 2015.Their trial is set on a court calendar that starts March 6.  Read the rest here 15:47

81 False killer whales die off South Florida coast

81 false killer whales have died after stranding themselves off the South Florida coast. NOAA announced the grim news on Monday afternoon. NOAA initially reported that 95 false killer whales were stranded in South Florida. Then on Monday afternoon, NOAA Fish Southeast tweeted that 81 whales had died and also said the whales were at a remote location off of Hog Key in the Everglades. One whale was seen alive on Monday and 13 others are unaccounted for, NOAA Fish Southeast said on Twitter on Monday afternoon. The National Park Service has closed the area around the whale stranding location. The National Park Service is asking that aircraft not fly over the area and that boats stay away from the area. Read the rest here 15:14

Coppertail releases beer that yes, seriously, has stone crab in it

Offering further evidence that there’s nothing craft brewers won’t incorporate into a beer, Tampa’s own Coppertail Brewing marked Friday the 13th with the release of its Captain Jack’s Stone Crab Stout, an “unconventionally flavored” brew that pays tribute to both Florida’s annual stone crab harvesting season and the anglers that brave the slightly colder winter waves in search of those delicious crustacean claws. And yeah, Captain Jack’s is literally made with stone crabs. What’s more, a portion of sales proceeds will be donated to the Florida Keys Commercial Fisherman’s Association “to promote sustainable fishing, and to help preserve the way of life of Florida fishermen.” Read the story here 12:16

Turtle Excluder Devices: Public meeting on shrimping regulation gets little feedback

A new federal regulation on Coast shrimpers may add more stress on an already stressed industry. Wednesday’s meeting discussed expanding the use of Turtle Excluder Devices to shallow water skimmer nets. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meeting drew more than 50 fishermen. However, only one was willing to talk about the potential impact of the new TED regulation. “If this is implemented, you will lose more fishermen,” said Thau Bu, director of the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese American Fisherfolks and Families. “Livelihoods threatened, families facing serious hardship. We lose so much of the cultural traditional heritage and value the fishing communities have contributed for hundreds of years.” Bu was also upset that Vietnamese families in attendance didn’t get enough time to translate the information to even understand what was facing them. So, she spoke for them. Video, read the story here 12:02