Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

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

Fundraiser for Fernando Diaz – Lobster business was destroyed by the Vaca Key Marina fire

I want to thank everyone for taking time to view this page. In the early morning hours of June 5, 2017 there was a massive fire at Vaca Key Marina in Marathon, FL. The fire consumed upwards of 200,000 lobster and crap traps and destroyed 3 fishing boats, and gear. Over 1 million dollars in damage. My father, Fernando Diaz has been harvesting lobsters and crabs for almost 36 years in the lower keys area. Unfortunately my father’s boat, and gear were burnt to ashes. His whole life came burning down in a matter of hours. Even at his age of 64, he has thoughts of rebuilding. With the fishing season around the corner (August 2017), any donations will be used to help rebuild and get back on the water to provide for his family. Thank you all very much. click here to visit the fundraiser page. 16:26

Massive Marathon marina fire destroys home, three lobster boats, fishing gear

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office credits Deputy Seth Hopp who was driving southbound near 15th Street at 2:35 a.m. When he saw billowing black smoke that was moving from the Vaca Key Marina and called the fire into Sheriff’s dispatchers and pulled in to the parking lot to investigate.,,,When firefighters arrived, they found that the flames had spread to a nearby house on an acre-sized lot filled with wooden lobster traps.,,, With the 37 to 47-foot lobster boats valued at an estimated $150,000 to $300,000 and lobster traps valued at $35 to $40 each, the total damage likely will be more than $1 million. “The traps were stacked 18 to 20 feet high,” Monroe County Fire Rescue Deputy Fire Marshal Craig Marston said. “The [commercial] lobster fishermen were getting them ready to put in the water the first of August for the new season.” click here for video, read the story 17:23

Major marina fire shuts down Overseas Highway in Keys

A massive marina fire in the Florida Keys shut down the Overseas Highway early Monday around Mile Marker 47.5, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. The fire at Vaca Key Marina in Marathon started around 2:30 a.m and burned for several hours, said Deputy Becky Herrin, a sheriff’s spokeswoman. Herrin said firehoses blocked U.S.1, which stretches from Key Largo to Key West. The road reopened to traffic before 8 a.m., according to the sheriff’s office. The call came in as a boat fire, but when firefighters arrived they found a house burning along with an acre lot filled with wooden lobster traps, said Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark. click here to read the story 10:18

Ed Killer: Can a protected fish be a nuisance?

Next week, in a hotel ballroom in Ponte Vedra Beach, there will be a lot of discussion about a controversial fish. Red snapper, a fish protected from harvest in federal waters since 2009, will be one of several species of fish evaluated during the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s quarterly meeting June 12-16. The Snapper Grouper advisory committee will convene Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss a variety of issues about some 80 species of fish they are charged with managing. Chief among the issues will be complaints from fishermen who claim the red snapper has risen to nuisance phase in its population numbers off Florida’s coast.,, But red snapper fishing in Florida is a little like Charles Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities.” click here to read the article 14:45

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting in Naples, FL June 5 – 8, 2017

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet June 5 – 8, 2017 at the Naples Grande Beach Resort 475 Seagate Drive Naples, FL 34103. The meeting will convene on the following days and local times: View Council Agenda View Briefing Materials, click here  Register for April Council Webinar, click here 12:32

Coastal Alabama Rep. slams NOAA ‘junk science’ behind shortest red snapper season ever

Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne shares the frustration of most in his district when it comes to the federal government’s overregulation of red snapper fishing. According to him, Coastal Alabamians are infuriated over the announcement that the much-anticipated red snapper season will only last a pitifully short three days. He believes they have a right to be mad. “[My constituents] have every reason to be outraged, because they have a right to fish in the waters of the United States, and they’re being deprived of that right by junk science. Put junk science in, you’re going to get a bad result out, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here,” Rep. Byrne said. Every year, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announces how long the fishing season will last based on the size and stock of red snapper fish. click here to read the story 13:45

Louisiana’s New Red Snapper Catch-Share Program

When it comes to the great red snapper management mess, the consensus of opinion among recreational-fishing interests and advocates is that states (vs. the feds) can manage coastal fish stocks more effectively and fairly. One assumption here is that states are much more in tune with recreational fishing in their waters. Well, in that regard, Louisiana has just delivered a solid bitch slapping to the recreational-fishing community. At least, that has been the reaction of many anglers groups to the surprise announcement made by the Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife on Thursday (May 25th) that a group of 150 anglers would be gifted with 25,000 pounds of red snapper in 2018 and again in 2019. In case you haven’t yet made the connection, let me make that for you. In two words: catch shares. click here to read the story 09:41

Deadly White Spot Syndrome in Louisiana crawfish farms could imperil $300 million industry

The crawfish industry in south Louisiana is growing concerned by a deadly virus that threatens the crop. White spot syndrome virus was first discovered in farmed shrimp in Thailand and China in the early 1990s, but it was not known in Louisiana crawfish until 2007, the LSU AgCenter says. “Symptoms include sluggish crawfish that don’t move much once they are dumped from the trap. They do not pinch hard and most cannot walk,” the AgCenter says. How did the virus get to Louisiana? Here’s what the AgCenter says: “No one can say with any certainty. There are many possibilities. Many countries export both pond-raised and wild shrimp to the United States. A study of imported shrimp indicates occurrence of WSSV may be very high in these products. Here’s the rub –  “Imported frozen shrimp used as bait for coastal fishing is also a hazard. Leftover bait shrimp that is discarded could be picked up by wild shrimp or crabs, thereby creating immediate risks for those populations and spread to others. The same risk to wild crawfish exists when frozen imported shrimp are used for bait in inland waters.  Click here to read the story 11:26

Recreational IFQ’s? Louisiana wants to give 150 anglers almost unlimited access to red snapper

Despite vehement opposition from recreational-fishing advocacy groups, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says it has worked up a pilot program that will award a significant portion of the state’s red snapper haul to select recreational anglers. The department announced the plan in a Thursday afternoon press release, just one day after meeting with pro-recreational fishing groups and mentioning nothing about the program. The structure would be similar to what exists in the commercial sector, where fishers have been awarded percentages of the overall commercial quota, and may harvest their red snapper at any time during the year. The system, called individual fishing quotas, has been panned by recreational-fishing organizations as well as good-government groups because it has set up so-called Sea Lords, who own quota and make hundreds of thousands of dollars on a public resource without ever leaving the dock. click here to read this story 20:20

What goes in the water in Wisconsin comes out in the Gulf of Mexico

A group of farmers in southwestern Wisconsin’s Driftless Area has become acutely aware that what gets into the watershed here can wind up hundreds of miles away.  These farmers use conservation practices to keep nutrients on their land and out of lakes and streams.  Margaret Krome, policy program director at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, says nutrients that get into the water here follow a direct path down the Mississippi River. “Those nutrients go shooshing right out into the Gulf of Mexico and create a zone with such high nutrients that they end up with a big algal bloom, and that sucks all the oxygen out of the water and kills other organisms,” she explains. “So it’s a dead zone because fishermen can’t fish there.” The Wisconsin farmers have developed a relationship with Gulf fishermen, who are appreciative of the farmers’ efforts to help improve fishing conditions in the Gulf. click here to read the story 10:52

Are shrimpers abandoning ship?

When Tam Nguyen’s family immigrated to Port Arthur more than 40 years ago, her father made a living owning and operating shrimp boats, the same thing he did in Vietnam. But Nguyen, who works as a quality inspector at JBS Shrimp Packing Inc. in Port Arthur, said she is glad her six children have left the family business.,,, Nederland resident Kyle Kimball, a third-generation shrimper, loves the work but expects the family business will end when he retires. “It’s grandfather to dad to me to nobody. You don’t want your family to do something like this,” said Kimball, 53. His daughter, Bella, 17, said she plans to go into nursing – a decision her father strongly supports. Click here to read the story 14:51

Mississippi Shrimpers optimistic for upcoming season in state waters

With the shrimp season in Mississippi approaching, more shrimp boats are docking in the Biloxi harbor, awaiting the green light to drop their nets in the sound. The Commission on Marine Resources meets next week to discuss recommendations for the 2017 shrimp season in Mississippi waters. Mirel Nelson on the Lady Vera says he’s hoping that past season are not an indicator of what can be expected this year. “To me it looked like it was going down through the years with all the red tide and stuff, but, who knows,” said Nelson. Nelson has been busy for the past few months improving his boat for this upcoming season. Meanwhile, others in the harbor have taken advantage of open shrimp waters in Louisiana. Video, click here to read the story 12:51