Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Texas House passes H.B.1260, The “Gulf Shrimp Liberty Act”

The Texas House passed House Bill 1260 by State Representative Dade Phelan, which creates a new occupational license for non-Texas commercial shrimpers for the unloading of shrimp. Currently, Texas has a moratorium on commercial Gulf shrimper licenses, meaning no new licenses are being issues and haven’t been issued in several years. The shrimpers being referred to in HB 1260 are the more than 500 out-of-state Gulf shrimpers who are currently not allowed to come into Texas waters without a license. “HB 1260 opens up the Texas seafood market to 7 million pounds of Gulf shrimp and over $100 million in economic activity for the state of Texas”, Representative Phelan stated. “The ability for non-Texas shrimpers to unload in Texas also means that they will refuel, gather supplies, and perform maintenance on their boats, providing more jobs and generating sales tax revenue that will positively impact the coast.” click here to read the story 11:56

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