Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Threatened Catch

It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving. And in case you’re tired of turkey, we have a helping of shrimp and a few questions. You may not think much about how the seafood gets to your plate.But the question of who’s catching it and where is at the center of a global controversy. To understand why, we head south to the Louisiana bayou. It’s where an industry that survived Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill is finding itself threatened with extinction by foreign competition. These fishermen could be Shrimpers Lost… and theirs could be a lesson for us all. Today we’re going shrimping in Venice, Louisiana. Acy Cooper is our guide. Sharyl Attkisson: How important is the shrimping business to your personally? Acy Cooper: It’s everything to me. You know, my family does it. My dad’s 80 years old, he still fishes. And my two boys has entered the business, and my daughter she married a fisherman. Louisiana’s shrimp industry has been a family affair for more than a century. Video, read the rest here 16:04

A father and son in St. Bernard Parish have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

father-son-thanksgivingThey said they almost died after their shrimp boat sank. After being stranded for hours, they were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard when another boater called for help. WDSU obtained video shot by the Coast Guard of the moment Daniel Scott and his stepfather, Joseph Mitchell, were rescued on Lake Borgne in Hopedale Saturday. “I broke down night before last after we got home,” Mitchell said. “I cried and I cried thinking about losing my son’s life.” The two were out shrimping. Winds picked up, the waves started crashing and the boat started sinking. “In a matter of seconds, Jo, my stepdad said, ‘Grab the life preservers,’ which we did,” Scott said. “I climbed out the window pulled him out the window. By that time the boat was under and we climbed up and hung out for about five hours and realized there is nobody out there to help us.” Video, read the story here 17:23

Coast Guard rescues three Gulf fishermen from sunken vessel

The Coast Guard rescued three people from a sunken fishing vessel approximately 35 miles southwest of Cape San Blas, Florida, Wednesday. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Mobile received a mayday call on VHF channel 16 from the crew of the Marion J, a 38-foot fishing vessel, at 1:44 a.m. explaining that their vessel was taking on water. Sector Mobile received a call from a crewmember’s girlfriend who told watchstanders that there were three people aboard the vessel, and the boat was approximately 35 miles southwest of Cape San Blas. The fishing vessel sunk and the crew boarded a life raft. The MH-60 crew located the people in a life raft, hoisted them at 4:40 a.m. and transported them to Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater to emergency medical services in stable condition. link 12:35

Boat captain arrested in lobster case

fwc-logoA Marathon commercial fisherman wanted by state wildlife officers for allegedly fishing for lobster with untagged traps turned himself in Thursday after returning from Cuba. Ricardo Hernandez, 52, faces 71 misdemeanor conservation violations. Earlier this month, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers issued arrest warrants for Hernandez and his mates after surveilling their fishing boat for two months, said FWC Officer Bobby Dube. When the warrants were issued, FWC officers discovered he was in Cuba. Mate Juan Miguel Exposito-Carralero, 46, was also charged with 71 misdemeanor counts. He was arrested last week. Hernandez returned from Cuba recently and turned himself in at the jail, said FWC Capt. David Dipre. The case marks a shift in how some poachers are reacting to the FWC as well as the Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association’s efforts to quelch trap robbing — they moved to fishing with untagged traps.  Read the rest here 09:13

Jewell Announces Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Plan for 2017-2022

jewell3_small-jpg-306x313After considering more than 3.3 million public comments and holding 36 public meetings, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Hopper today released the final plan to guide future energy development for the Nation’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for 2017-2022. The plan takes a balanced approach to best meet the nation’s energy needs by including areas offshore with high resource potential and mature infrastructure while protecting regions with critical ecological resources. The Proposed Final Program offers 11 potential lease sales in four planning areas – 10 sales in the portions of three Gulf of Mexico Program Areas that are not under moratorium and one sale off the coast of Alaska in the Cook Inlet Program Area.Areas off the Atlantic coast are not included in this program. After an extensive public input process, the lease sale that was proposed in the Draft Proposed Program in the Mid- and South Atlantic area was removed during the earlier Proposed Program stage of the process due to current market dynamics, strong local opposition and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses. Read the press release here   16:32

Trump victory brings hope for shrimpers

570418_1Roger Schmall’s shrimp boat engine lay in pieces on his deck. After the last one, which cost $35,000 came apart after only one trip out to sea, he’s decided to rebuild one himself to make sure it’s done right. Engines usually last 8 to 10 years, but he got a bad one, he said. He’s just got one boat these days, the Kayden Nicole, so his livelihood is tied to a working engine. Schmall’s spent the last 34 years working in the industry, and one of the few left of his ilk. Schmall is one of many local shrimpers who were hit hard when the U.S. began opening up to international trade through deals like the North American Trade Act (NAFTA), passed in 1994. During his campaign and in his 100 day plan which he outlined in his speech at Gettysburg in October, President Elect Donald Trump pledged to withdraw, or at least substantially change, some of the U.S.’s deals with other countries. Read the story here 10:03

Wanted fisherman fled to Cuba

Spiny lobsterA Marathon trap fisherman accused of using dozens of untagged traps apparently fled to Cuba following a two-month investigation into illegal lobster fishing, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the State Attorney’s Office.  FWC officers served a warrant on Nov. 4 after surveilling the vessel, said FWC officer Bobby Dube.  In all, 19 untagged traps were fished, according to the FWC. Some traps were also improperly numbered, records state. A mate aboard the vessel — Juan Miguel Exposito-Carralero, 46 — was charged with 71 misdemeanor counts of fishing illegal traps when FWC officers converged on the vessel after it was returning to port, said Assistant State Attorney Christina Cory. The captain that the FWC had been targeting, Ricardo Hernandez, 52, was not on the vessel at the time and happened to be in Cuba, Dube said. It does not appear he fled, but he left before the warrant was served, Cory added.  The case marks a shift in how some poachers are reacting to the FWC as well as the Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association’s efforts to quelch trap robbing, said the latter association’s executive director Bill Kelly. Read the story here 08:22

Coast Guard medevacs skipper from fishing boat 94 miles west of John’s Pass

fv-swordfish-medevacThe Coast Guard medevacked a 51-year-old man Thursday from a commercial fishing boat 94 miles west of John’s Pass. Rescued was Randall Lauser from Largo. At 10:40 a.m. watch standers from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a call via VHF-FM marine band radio channel 16 from a crew member aboard the commercial fishing boat Swordfish. Lauser, the captain of the boat, suffered a hand injury and was in need of emergency medical assistance.  A flight surgeon was notified and recommended Lauser be medevacked. Link watch video here 08:37

Oyster reef now closed after reopening for first time in 54 years

cwl3cs7xyaegnra_1478778207963_6994443_ver1-0Officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced the Biloxi Bay oyster reef was closed for fishing beginning Wednesday (Nov. 9) due to excessive localized rainfall. The closure was announced for the V “A” area that includes Biloxi Bay and Shearwater reefs.  Biloxi Bay reopened for harvesting earlier this month for the first time in 54 years after water quality reached an acceptable standard to inspectors. On the first day of reopening, the Department of Marine Resources reported 46 boats, including five recreational and 31 commercial, pulled in 441 sacks of oysters. For more information, call the Oyster Hotline at (228) 374-5167 or 1-800-385-5902 link 09:06

Rio Grande Valley Shrimpers Battle For Profits

valley-shrimpIt’s been a while since shrimpers from the Rio Grande Valley have seen a poor shrimp season. The Texas shrimp season just started 4 months ago. Andrea Hance is a shrimper who says, “A lot of the boats right now are having to go all across the gulf to find the areas where the shrimp are.” This season Hance says their production is down 40%. The decrease in production along with the increase in competition from foreign farm raised shrimp is taking a toll on the industry. Hance says foreign import shrimp sellers under cut local shrimpers by about 20% which makes Valley shrimpers lose out on business to restaurants who want a cheaper product. A lot of boats are going short handed. Video, read the rest here 16:05

Coast Guard medevacs man near Houma

coast guardThe Coast Guard medevaced a man from the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 23 miles south of Houma, Louisiana, Sunday. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a request 1:50 p.m. from the fishing vessel Michael II for a medevac of a 60-year-old Vietnamese deckhand who was experiencing stroke-like symptoms. Sector New Orleans directed the launch of an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans to assist the man. The crew arrived on scene at 3:57 p.m. and transported the deckhand to Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans in stable condition. For video of the medevac, please click here. 06:52

Water War: Florida and Georgia to blame for oyster loss

apalachicola oystersThe 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster threatened to spread oil from Texas to Florida and kill every shrimp, snapper and oyster in the Gulf of Mexico. Oystermen in Florida freaked out and, joined by fishermen from as far away as Texas, scraped every possible oyster — legal-sized or not — from the bottom of Apalachicola Bay. The still-poor condition of the bay and the oyster industry serves as the crux of the water war trial underway in this coastal New England town. Ralph Lancaster Jr., the special master assigned by the U.S. Supreme Court to remedy the 27-year-old interstate dispute, will ultimately decide who is to blame for the industry’s collapse. The trial’s first week ended Friday with a detailed examination of oyster fishing and Florida’s role in allowing the long-term degradation of the industry. It resumes Monday with the same focus. Florida says a lack of freshwater coming down the Apalachicola River from Georgia is to blame for the bay’s poor health. Georgia counters that over-fishing and lax management of oystering rules caused the damage. Read the story here 18:54

1st Biloxi Bay oyster harvest of 21st century opens Tuesday

biloxi oystersFor the first time in at least 40 years, Biloxi Bay will open for oyster harvesting. The state Department of Marine Resources said in a news release reefs in the Biloxi Bay portion of the Mississippi Sound will open at sunrise Tuesday. DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller says the harvest of oysters for the first time in 40-plus years in Biloxi Bay is nothing less than historic. Miller says the opening of the oyster reefs confirms water quality has improved in the Bay. Officials say harvesting is limited to oyster tonging. No dredging will be allowed. The limit is 15 sacks per day. Artificial reefs will not be open for oyster harvesting. There will be a station in the Ocean Springs Harbor for fishermen to check in and out each day. link 10:26

Jarvis Green: NFL Defensive End Turned Shrimp Entrepreneur

The first thing Jarvis Green wants to know, as we sit across the table from each other in the faculty cafeteria at Babson College, is which of the many nearby schools-that-start-with-the-letter-B houses my radio station. “Oh, Boston University?” He says. “I’m trying to do something with Boston University.” The next thing I know, we’re talking about Green’s plans to sell pre-cooked shrimp to college students with “value added sauce packets” so they “can’t mess it up.” And if those aren’t phrases you’d expect to hear from a former defensive end, you’re not alone. “I used to play football in the NFL. Won my two Super Bowls. I never thought I’d be doing this, you know. Learning price points. Understanding what it costs to get a shrimp out of the water.” Jarvis Green isn’t in the shrimp business because he needs the money. Sure, he could use more – he says we all could. Jarvis Green is in the shrimp business because … well, let’s start at the beginning. Read the story here 09:50

Coast Guard Station Cortez rescues 2 after boat takes on water near Anna Maria Island

The Coast Guard rescued two men Saturday after the 40-foot boat the two men were on began to take on water 13 miles west of Anna Maria Island. At 3:30 a.m., watch standers from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a mayday call via VHF-FM marine band radio channel 16 from the crew aboard the commercial fishing boat Barbara Jean. The crew stated they were disabled due to engine trouble and were taking on water over the sides of the boat. A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew from Coast Guard Station Cortez launched and arrived on scene at 4:30 a.m. An RB-M crew member and dewatering pump were transferred to the fishing boat to begin dewatering efforts. The RB-M crew placed the fishing boat in tow and transported the two men and their boat to A.P. Bells Seafood in Cortez. No injuries were reported. 18:11

Florida-Georgia Water War to be settled in a Maine Courtroom on Monday. Last Chance for the Apalachicola Oyster?

The Flint River, from high atop the bridge on Po Biddy Road, looks nothing like the water-hogging culprit Florida makes it out to be. It’s all rocks with slivers of water barely coursing through. “That’s what paddlers call ‘bony,’ ” said Gordon Rogers, the Flint Riverkeeper. “It should be almost three times as high. And we’re not even in a big-dog drought.” Yet much of Georgia is in a drought — worsening by the day — and the lack of rain, barren streams and dwindling reservoirs buttress the latest “water war” legal battle set to begin Monday in a Maine courtroom. The stakes for Georgia have never been higher. Metro Atlanta’s future rides on the legal opinion of one irascible, no-nonsense Yankee barrister who has warned that neither Georgia nor Florida will be satisfied with his ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court appointed Ralph Lancaster as the “special master” to determine the validity of Florida’s 2013 lawsuit against Georgia and its alleged overconsumption of the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers. Whiskey’s for drinking, as the adage goes, but water’s worth fighting over. Read the story here 13:33

National Marine Fisheries Service issues annual report on Fisheries of the United States, 2015

noaa nmfs logoThis publication is the annual National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) yearbook of fishery statistics for the United States for 2015. The report provides data on U.S. recreational catch and commercial fisheries landings and value as well as other aspects of U.S. commercial fishing. In addition, data are reported on the U.S. fishery processing industry, imports and exports of fishery-related products, and domestic supply and per capita consumption of fishery products. Information in this report came from many sources. Field offices of NMFS, with the generous cooperation of the coastal states and Regional Fishery Information Networks, collected and compiled data on U.S. commercial landings and processed fishery products. The NMFS Fisheries Statistics Division in Silver Spring, MD, managed the collection and compilation of recreational statistics, in cooperation with various States and Interstate Fisheries Commissions, and tabulated and prepared all data for publication. Sources of other data appearing in this publication are: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Read the press release here, Read the full report here 09:34

Shrimp Fishermen discover body of missing Cuban floating in Gulf of Mexico

fishermen_1477451885528_6633250_ver1-0A group of Texas fishermen made a gruesome discovery while out shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico. What they first thought was trash floating in the water was really a man’s body, found decomposing on a makeshift raft. It was Jonathan Pena’s first time out on a shrimp boat when he made the unlikely discovery of a man’s body, found adrift at sea. He documented the finding on his cell phone. “That’s when it was just like, wow, wow, wow, wow,” he said as he played back the video for us. The 24-year-old described what he saw as a decomposing body of a bearded man, laying half naked on top of an inflatable tube, with a pod of dolphins swimming nearby. “That’s the first thing that really affected me, was seeing how gruesome it was and that he put himself in that situation just to come over here,” he said. “That’s what really stays with me the most.” Video, read the story here 11:25

Latest report says menhaden thriving in the Gulf

menhadenA commission that assesses the health and viability of the menhaden population in the Gulf released a report this week that says despite massive commercial hauls, the menhaden population is sound. It’s called a stock assessment for menhaden — a fish caught for catfood and fish oil supplements and a favorite food of large game fish. If fact, there’s been controversy this year over how many redfish commercial menhaden boats in the Gulf should be allowed to keep in the bycatch while fishing for menhaden. Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission evaluated the status of the Gulf menhaden in U.S. waters and concluded the “Gulf of Mexico’s menhaden stock is not experiencing overfishing,” said Steven J. VanderKooy, a fisheries coordinator with the commission, which has an Ocean Springs office. Read the story here 19:42

The Race to Spread the EDF IFQ Recreational Fishery Propaganda.

robert-e-jonesjpg-0f7b26b6c7446ecaGulf fisheries were in dire condition before the Environmental Defense Fund teamed with local fishermen across the Gulf, from Florida to Texas, to help turn things around. In those days, fishermen were stuck under failing management that perpetuated overfishing and reduced the population of Gulf red snapper to just 4 percent of its historic level. Due to misguided and ineffective rules, the commercial fleet was in a derby system — a race to catch fish that was dangerous and destructive to both fish and fishermen’s businesses. The catch limits that were put in place to solve the problem were not working. Seeing their livelihoods collapsing under failing management, commercial fishermen voted twice, in supermajorities, to implement a system known as catch shares or individual fishing quotas, which went on the water in 2007. EDF is proud to have worked with our fishing partners on this system. Read the story here 10:22

Gulf of Mexico shrimp landings low, prices up

louisiana shrimpShrimp landings in the Gulf of Mexico are running lower than usual, but prices are up, according to the latest data issued by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). U.S. shrimpers caught 11.2 million lbs. of shrimp in September 2016, the lowest September total since 2008 and 3.5 million fewer lbs. than was caught last September. The total is nearly 18 percent off the 14-year historical catch average of 13.6 million lbs. Landings in the U.S. states of Texas and Alabama both fell markedly, while Louisiana’s catch was around its historical average for September. Texan shrimpers caught 4.3 million lbs. of shrimp in September, Read the rest here 11:43

Oceana bites back at proposed rule for US dusky shark conservation

angry enviroU.S. President Barack Obama and his administration have released a proposal addressing the chronic overfishing of dusky sharks in U.S. waters. But suggested rule comes up short on its objective, according to marine conservation group Oceana. Oceana, which sued the federal government in 2015 in a challenge to its policies on dusky sharks,  has deemed the proposed rule as “grossly inadequate,” and charged that that the National Marine Fisheries Service fails to offer measurable means to stop dusky shark decline and facilitate the species’ recovery. Over the past two decades, dusky shark populations across the Atlantic and Gulf coasts have dropped by 65 percent as a result of bycatch and overfishing, said Oceana. Because the species is slow to grow and reproduces at low rates, recent studies suggest that the population would need between 70 and 180 years to recover. Read the story here 12:06

Coast Guard medevacs fisherman suffering from seizures, 100 miles off Galveston

coast guardA 38-year-old man was medevaced by a Coast Guard helicopter Sunday, after reports of seizures on a fishing vessel about 100 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas. The crew of the fishing vessel Black Jack IV contacted Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders on VHF marine band radio channel 16 at about 6:30 p.m., to report that the man was having seizure like symptoms and needed assistance. The watchstanders launched an Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to medevac the man and an Air Station Corpus Christi HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew to provide communications and safety support so far offshore. The helicopter crew hoisted the man, had to stop and refuel on a rig in the gulf and then delivered him to Galveston’s Scholes International Airport, where EMS was standing by to take him to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He was reported to be in stable condition. link 13:33

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting in Biloxi, MS, October 17 – 21, 2016

Gulf-of-Mexico-Fishery-Management-Council-logoThe Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet at the IP Casino & Resort, 850 Bayview Avenue, Biloxi, MS. 39530 Ballroom B, October 17- 20, 2016. View Agenda here View Briefing Book here Register for Webinar here Register for the Post Council Wrap-up Webinar here 18:00

Stone crabbers get ready for Saturday’s first pull of season

It might not be ideal stone crabbing weather, but the Meschelles are pulling their traps on Saturday no matter what. “My son said, ‘We’re going out Saturday, darn it, even if it’s windy,’ ” said Sheila Meschelle, who has been stone crabbing with her son, Nathan, and husband, Todd, for the past four years. Nathan Meschelle started crabbing in high school with a childhood friend’s dad and went straight into commercial fishing after he graduated. It’s a labor of love for the family, who take their 30-foot crabbing boat out each year to bring in the precious claws for diners across Florida. Stone crab season starts on Saturday and runs through May 15. Last year’s season was anything but a disappointment for crabbers and restaurateurs. At one point, the Meschelles were required to take days off because they were bringing in such a haul. Read the story here 09:15

Playing Politics? NOAA: Red snapper data can’t be shared with states

sobeckA letter written late last month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates  that if red snapper are ultimately removed from federal oversight to be managed by the five Gulf states, much of the data currently collected on the species by NOAA — including stock assessments — would not be shared with the states. The letter dated Sept. 22 from Eileen Sobeck to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Charlie Melancon contradicts what Rep. Garret Graves — the author of H.R. 3094 that would strip red snapper from federal oversight and award it to the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority — has said about how potential costs associated with stock assessments and data collection for snapper will be covered if his legislation becomes law. But Graves said the letter is just another in a long list of allegations brought by the LDWF in an attempt to derail the bill. “The reality is this: NOAA is going to go out there and do fish surveys, and they don’t have any idea what type of fish is going to come up in that net or on that long line, so for them to suggest that they’re going to pretend that some fish isn’t there and another fish is there is completely bogus,” Graves said. “And if NOAA is going to jump in and play these political games with Charlie (Melancon), have at it. Y’all enjoy your next two and a half months of playing games because y’all are gone. It’s just continued silliness and obviously has no merit.” Read the story here 17:28

Is Environmental Defense Fund Controlling Louisiana’s Department Of Wildlife And Fisheries?

By now our readers are surely familiar with the very strange behavior of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Charlie Melancon with respect to his opposition to a bill brought by most of Louisiana’s congressional delegation that would put individual Gulf states, rather than the federal government, in control of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re not up to speed on Melancon’s antics and escalating feud with a key member of the delegation, Baton Rouge congressman Garret Graves, we offered a primer here. Most of the speculation you may have seen involves the idea that several of the larger commercial fishing concerns along the Gulf coast, who benefit from a crony-capitalist scheme wherein shares of the red snapper market have been allocated based on incumbency – the owners of those concerns have been given the moniker “Sea Lords” since the red snapper catch largely resembles a feudal system of sorts – have essentially bought Melancon and his opposition to the bill Graves is proposing is a product of that purchase. Graves’ idea to put the state in charge of the red snapper fishery would break up the current allocation scheme and put the Sea Lords out of commission in Louisiana, or at least make their incumbency a matter which would be up for grabs. Read the story here 08:10

Fishing Industry faces tough times – Sam Parisi

manatthewheelUS Fishermen from all over are feeling the effects of NOAA and conservation groups that are making it very difficult for our fishing fleets on every coast. Every day there is anther obstacle for our fishermen, the most recent on the East Coast. President Obama has designated a large area of Cape Cod, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. I fished those waters back in the late 60,s for whiting and lobster. Fishermen depend on those deep waters for lobsters. Although the President, after up roars from the lobstermen, has given them seven years to vacate, in the end those lobstermen will lose their rich grounds. When does it end?  Every day some one else comes up with a brain storm and there are so many people out there that no idea of the effect, but think it is a good idea to protect whatever, not thinking of the harm to our fishermen. I believe the deck is stacked and our fishermen do not stand a chance to exist. We need help from our political leaders. I have heard over and over “we will help”, with good intentions but the fact remains NOAA holds all the cards. We have no say. We need political leader’s that will stand up to NOAA on our behalf, and follow through. We need help now. Here are the basic problems that need attention. Language written into MSA that would unlock the ironclad grip NOAA has on the “best available science” and accept other independent scientific data. SK Grant money needs to be removed from NOAA. Senator Sullivan of Alaska has such a bill pending and finally our fishermen should not have to pay for monitoring that is NOAA’s responsibility. Thanks for listing. Sam Parisi, Proud to be a fishermen. 19:24

The Quiet Fishing Town Near Austin That Seems Frozen In Time

Most Americans are very disconnected from the source of the food they eat. In Austin, we enjoy beef from cattle ranches and seafood from commercial fishermen that we never come into contact with. Fulton, Texas is a little fishing village about 188 miles directly south of Austin. Visitors to this pretty place can see fishing firsthand, and even do a little of their own. View this nice little photo article here 09:17

Are these Gulf shrimp? Audubon program aims to hook you on local seafood

louisiana shrimp“National Seafood Month is very much about educating people about Gulf of Mexico seafood and why it’s important to support Gulf of Mexico seafood,” said John Fallon, assistant director of the GULF program. In New Orleans, the month will be marked with a six-course Tuna Fête on Oct. 25 at Carrollton Market restaurant. The dinner will star Gulf of Mexico yellowfin tuna. Dinner with wine pairings is $150 per person, $100 without wine. Tax and gratuity included. It’s a good time for locals to get in the habit of finding out where the seafood they are eating comes from, he said, noting, “90 percent of seafood consumed in the United States is imported” from other countries. Video, Read the rest here  10:38

Fishermen found clinging to cooler 23 miles off Florida coast

In his 25 years of spearfishing, Dean Brodley had never seen anything like the situation that played out in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. Brodley put in his 28-foot power boat at Carrabelle, Fla., in the morning. Accompanying him on the boat were his friend Brandon Phillips, Phillips’ girlfriend and another friend.  “We met down at Carrabelle early, loaded up with ice and everything. We were out and about, hitting several dive spots,” said Phillips, who began spearfishing about a year ago. “We were coming back in and were going to hit one more dive spot when I saw something I didn’t recognize.” Brodley said Phillips pointed to an object off the boat’s starboard. “He spotted what looked like a buoy, just floating. And on a whim, we headed in that direction just to see what it was,” said Brodley. “About halfway to them, we could see them splashing.” As they approached, the men couldn’t believe the sight of four men, exhausted, hanging onto a floating Igloo cooler. They were 23 miles offshore. Read the rest here 15:27

How a ‘rogue’ environmental group transformed (HIJACKED) American fisheries

One of the nation’s largest environmental groups — bankrolled with $50 million from the heirs to the Walmart fortune — has spent millions of dollars pushing a wholesale change in how the U.S. manages its fisheries, an AL.com investigation reveals. Critics blame the Environmental Defense Fund effort for hurting fishing communities on every coast, from Kake, Alaska, and Gloucester, Mass., to Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The group has pushed a system that turns the right to catch a pound of fish into a private commodity that can be bought and sold like a share of stock on Wall Street. The government then gives these shares to individual commercial fishermen, granting them the right to catch that fish, or lease or sell the right to catch it to another fisherman. EDF gained unprecedented access to the levers of power in 2008 when President Obama appointed the vice-chair of EDF’s board – Jane Lubchenko — as the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages the nation’s fish stocks. Once in power, Lubchenko, a respected but little known fisheries professor in Washington State, enacted a national catch share policy that mirrored EDF’s longtime goals. Read this story. Read the story here 09:21

Judge Sets Texas Straight on Oysters

scales_of_justice_2A local navigation board had no authority to issue an oysterman an exclusive lease to grow and harvest oysters in Galveston Bay, as only the state can do that, a Texas judge ruled. Three Galveston-based oyster companies sued Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management (STORM) in April 2014, calling the fisherman’s lease a land grab of state resources during a lean time in the oyster industry. Oysters are a $1 billion industry in the United States, and by far the largest share comes from cultivated, not wild, oysters. Tracy Woody, president of STORM and owner of Jeri’s Seafood in Smith Point, a small town on the bay, said his lease from the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District was valid, and that he would use the waters for sustainable oyster harvesting, not for personal gain. “Should I pillage and plunder a public resource for personal gain?” Woody said in an interview Monday. “Or should I try to sustain it, without using any taxpayer money?” But in a 2-page order on Sept. 28, Galveston County Judge Lonnie Cox granted the Galveston companies summary judgment and voided the lease. Read the rest here 16:40

Coast Guard reports increase in seizures of Mexican vessels stealing Red Snapper

12050078_gA recent study by the U.S. Coast Guard states hundreds of thousands of pounds of red snapper is taken illegally out of the waters by Mexican fishermen. U.S. fisherman Stephen Murphy said he knows they are after the red snapper. “You’re out there fishing and you look a mile away… It’s pretty obvious there’s a Mexican in a commercial boat out there with their long lines and gill nets bringing in thousands of pounds of fish,” he said. Murphy said the fishermen also use illegal catching nets. He said there needs to be more done to protect the fish. “There’s nobody out there patrolling… They can go out and fish for one night and get a thousand pounds of snapper,” he said. “(They’re) selling it for almost eight thousand dollars.” Video, read the story here 08:03

Shocked fishermen discover male human genitals inside a large yellowfin tuna caught in Tampa Bay

Jerry Masterson, 33, caught the large yellowfin tuna yellowfin-pg-14-two_edited-1weighing in at over 80 pounds in Tampa Bay, Florida. The horror discovery was made when Mr Masterson started gutting the fish while onboard the boat. “We were convinced we were just going to have one of those days when the fish don’t bite, when I felt a big tug on my line.” Mr Masterson was at first thrilled to land the massive tuna, but was soon disgusted at what he found. He said: “I had just made a cut behind the fish’s head and through its belly, running the knife down along its spine. “My first reaction was one of disgust, because there was a terrible smell of decomposing meat coming from the fish’s stomach. “Inside the fish’s stomach was an awful sight. There was no mistaking that I was looking at a man’s penis and testicles.” Read the rest here 09:22

Final BP seafood settlement payments a milestone

Deepwater-Horizon-April-21-2010.-REUTERSBP’s oil spill settlement with private individuals and businesses hit a major milestone this week as the court-appointed claims administrator announced the final round of payments to those most directly affected by the 2010 disaster, fishermen and seafood businesses. The third and last round of payments in the settlement’s $2.3 billion seafood compensation fund totals $520 million, and claims administrator Patrick Juneau said payment letters will go out next week. He says that will provide a major influx of money into the coastal economy for shrimpers, crabbers, oystermen and fin fishermen. Juneau, whom BP once accused of “hijacking” the settlement and barraged with personal attacks for the balance of two years, says this final step is a hard-earned result of BP and plaintiff’s lawyers turning over a new leaf and working together. But a coalition of fishing leaders called GO Fish remains disappointed with the slow pace of claims payments. There was also a hiccup last December when hundreds of fishing claimants were identified as potential fraud cases, a mistake that scared people on Christmas Eve and wasn’t resolved for several months. Read the story here 18:57

Fishing With A Glock 9mm Handgun Underwater? These Lionfish Don’t Stand A Goddamn Chance

lionfish-hunting-glock-9mmThe grey line that divides hunting and fishing just grew even murkier after these bros demonstrated how fun and easy it is to go fishing/hunting for Lionfish, an extremely invasive species in Florida, using a Glock 9mm pistol. Lionfish were never meant to make it to the Gulf of Mexico waters, and there’s some discrepancy on how the fish were first introduced but in general it’s suggested a few of the fish were dumped into Florida waters during a hurricane back in the 90s and that handful of fish multiplied like rabbits. And as noted in this video, a SINGLE Lionfish consumes 80% of a coral reef’s edible baitfish within 5 weeks of arriving on that reef. They’re a goddamn terrorizing nuisance! 2 video’s, Read the rest here 08:42

Gulf council seeks input from fishermen for coral reef protections

coral_cover_photoFishermen will be able to provide input for coral protection areas in the at a workshop Monday hosted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 142 Library Drive, Houma. The council’s scientists recommended protecting 47 areas in the Gulf, but with the help of the Coral Advisory Panel and Shrimp Advisory Panel, the number has been narrowed to 15 priority areas. The meeting is to get feedback from fishermen who use bottom-contacting gear in federal waters in the Gulf before the council begins its public scoping process. Another meeting is to be held in Alabama. “Most of the areas, no one fishes in, but there is one area off the boot of Louisiana and several off Texas and Florida where there is some fishing activity. They want to get feedback from fishermen to see how much impact it would have to fisheries,” said Julie Falgout, seafood industry liaison with Louisiana SeaGrant. Read the rest here 11:08

Auditors question spending at Louisiana fisheries agency

Here are some preliminary findings from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office, which raises questions about spending in the state’s Department of Wildlife and FisheriesLouisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from 2010 through 2015. A draft of the audit report was obtained by The Associated Press and hasn’t been released publicly yet:  Less than half the 2,376 fish samples expected to be tested in a seafood safety program financed by BP were collected. A biologist wasn’t always present for the sampling, auditors say, and the sampling operation was overseen by an employee who “did not have supervisory or biology education or experience.” Unnecessary boats, fishing equipment, cameras and computers were bought with the money, according to the draft report, which says the fish testing team spent $3 million on testing of 1,091 samples that couldn’t determine fish safety, the equivalent of $2,796 spent per tested fish. Federal grant funds were spent to buy a $220,000 used boat, motors and a trailer “that appeared to have little or no benefit to the agency,” has been used twice since 2012 and have cost nearly $38,000 to maintain and repair, another $764,000 in clothing and uniform purchases, sponsorship spending and contracts, Nearly $134,000 was paid, for example, to a university for the design and upkeep of a website that benefited two private entities that host annual fishing rodeos,,, Read the rest here 20:25

Charlie Melancon’s Department Of Wrongdoing And Falsehood

charlie-melanconHave you been paying attention to the chaos at hand with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries? It appears that there is a full three-ring circus going on with DWF and its secretary, the former Democrat congressman Charlie Melancon. And after eight months on the job it’s pretty clear that perception among the in-the-know crowd was largely correct. The department is awash in controversy, if not criminality, and those affected by it are furious. To full explain this, we should go back several years to a program set up at the federal level. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, which is a federal commission set up to govern offshore fishing in the five Gulf states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas), and the National Marine Fisheries Service set up something called the Individual Fishing Quota system, or IFQ, to govern commercial fishing for red snapper. Meaning, the federal government resorted to crony capitalism as a means to govern Gulf red snapper fisheries. If you were a big player in the red snapper harvest before the program got started, you were one of the cronies and your incumbency would be protected.  Read the story here. 19:20

Feds Reach Deal To Protect Sea Turtles From Shrimpers

movi290915a_82-jpgA D.C. federal judge on Friday stayed a lawsuit filed by a conservation group accusing the U.S. Department of Commerce of not doing enough to protect endangered sea turtles from shrimp fishing operations off the southeastern U.S. coast, after the government agreed to propose a rule to help fix the problem.  Judge Paul L. Friedman signed an order staying the case after the U.S. Fisheries Service and conservation group Oceana Inc. agreed to a turtle excluder device, or TED, rule that requires expanded use of the devices that feature trap doors allowing most turtles caught in trawling nets to escape unharmed. The TED rule also places greater limits on the amount of time the shrimp boats can drag their nets. Under the terms of the agreement, if the stay is lifted and litigation recommences, Oceana will move for summary judgment within 45 days and the Fisheries Service will cross-move for summary judgment no later than 45 days after Oceana has filed its motion, Judge Friedman ruled. Read the rest here 10:14

Red snapper dispute continued at Wednesday meeting

red snapperThe war of words continued Wednesday during an all-day meeting in Baton Rouge designed to educate members of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission on red snapper management. A surrogate of Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, presented a letter declaring states would not be responsible for research funding under HR 3094, a bill authored by Graves and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, that would transfer management authority to Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. That directly contradicted charges made by Charlie Melancon, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, that the bill became an unfunded mandate when Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, tacked an amendment to it. “Amending things to death is how you kill a bill,” Melancon told the crowd of industry leaders and interested anglers Wednesday. “What was done to (HR 3094) was an attempt to kill the bill.” But Paul Sawyer, Graves’ chief of staff, presented a letter, signed by Bishop, stating that his amendment merely banned the transfer of funds to the states for fisheries research because that research would continue to be conducted by NOAA Fisheries. Read the story here 12:31

Why Mississippi DMR paid $291K for a boat fishermen dream of

This is not Bill Walker’s Department of Marine Resources. The DMR just bought a 39-foot, offshore boat, but it won’t be used for the legislative fishing trips, fishing tournaments and birthday outings that Bill Walker sanctioned under his regime, Executive Director Jamie Miller told the Sun Herald. DMR intends to use the boat for collecting finfish samples offshore, most notably red snapper, Miller said when the Sun Herald interviewed him this week at the DMR’s reef staging site on the Industrial Seaway, where the boat is stored. Miller said the DMR wants hard data to prove what most offshore fishermen will already tell you: Red snapper are more plentiful than the federal government’s stingy fishing limits indicate. (Oh, and one other thing. Miller said the boat “absolutely” will be used in undercover operations to nab fishermen with illegal catches. The Contender will be marked as a DMR boat, but its 70-mph top speed means enforcers will be on top of those fishing illegally before they can dispose of their catches.) Video, Read the story here 14:32

 

Hermine becomes a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico

Tropical Storm Hermine officially reached hurricane status on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, at 1:55 p.m. EDT. NOAA’s GOES-East satellite captured a visible image of the hurricane at 3:15 p.m. EDT (1915 UTC). The image shows a much more organized Hermine with bands of thunderstorms wrapping around its low-level center and blanketing the entire state of Florida. The image was created at NASA/NOAA’s GOES Project office, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. A hurricane warning is in effect from Suwannee River to Mexico Beach, Florida. A hurricane watch is in effect from Anclote River to Suwannee River, and west of Mexico Beach to the Walton/Bay County line. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Englewood to Suwannee River, from west of Mexico Beach to the Walton/Bay County line, and the Flagler/Volusia County line to Surf City. A tropical storm watch is in effect from north of Surf City to Oregon Inlet, including Pamlico Sound. Read the rest here 18:15

Apalachicola Bay commercial oyster bag limit lowered to 3 – Oyster reefs ‘in worse shape’

107680-004-B54E21CCThe commercial bag limit for oysters in Apalachicola Bay will be lowered to three bags per harvester during the winter season, Sept. 1 through May 31. Several other oyster conservation measures implemented previously will also continue this winter season. These changes are effective in all of Apalachicola Bay, including all waters of Indian Lagoon in Gulf County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) began implementing conservation measures in the fall of 2014 in an effort to help the Apalachicola Bay oyster population recover from the effects of low river flow. Apalachicola Bay oyster populations have significantly declined in recent years due to lack of sufficient fresh water flows in the Apalachicola River. Read the post here Oyster reefs ‘in worse shape’ – “We’re in worse shape. We’ve got to have river flow, that’s the first thing.” None of the SMARRT leadership seated at the front table disputed Estes’ findings. “I couldn’t get 100 legal oysters from there, and I moved around,” said SMARRT chair Shannon Hartsfield, referring to Dry Bar North and Green Point, reefs in the western portion of the bay, which in three separate surveys this summer yielded no more than 15 bags per acre to FWC surveyors. Read the article here 13:12

 

Florida and Hawaii brace as hurricane season hastens

Florida braces for life-threatening floods and fierce winds as Hawaii’s Big Island stares down the barrel of an encroaching hurricane. Forecasters issued a tropical storm warning on Wednesday for the Florida Gulf Coast. National Hurricane Center: ”Persons located within these areas should be prepared to take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water.” Florida Governor Rick Scott: Flooding, storm surge, fierce winds and tornadoes were all threats to the region. Could make landfall on Florida’s north-central Gulf Coast on Thursday. Resident on Hawaii’s Big Island warned of an encroaching hurricane expected to bring strong winds and heavy rains. National Weather Service (NWS): Hurricane Madeline [CAT 1] swirling about 235 miles (380 km), forecast to “pass dangerously close” on Wednesday. County of Hawaii: “Preparations to protect life and property should be completed by nightfall today.” Read the latest here 15:27

Marine Monument excerpts from Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 8/26/2016

josh-earnest-620x43611:52 A.M. EDT MR. EARNEST:  Morning, everybody.  Happy Friday.  Before we get started I’ll just do a — one piece of news you may have seen already.  As part of the President’s commitment to protect the natural beauty of the United States, we announced today that President Obama is building on this leadership by taking an historic step in creating the world’s largest marine protected area just off the coast of Hawaii. The designation will more than quadruple the size of the existing marine monument, permanently protecting pristine coral reefs, deep-sea marine habitats, and other important ecological features and resources in the waters of the northwest Hawaiian Islands.,, a lot of scientists have talked about the importance of protecting areas closer to the continental United States — in New England, in the Southeast, in the Gulf.  These are proposals,,, Read the rest here 19:03

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council August Meeting Review

Gulf-of-Mexico-Fishery-Management-Council-logo

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 15 – 18, 2016. The Council welcomed its newest member Dr. Thomas Frazer, Director of the School of Natural Resources and Environment for the University of Florida.  In addition, Douglas Boyd (TX) and Leann Bosarge (MS) were each sworn in for an additional 3-year term. The Council elected Leann Bosarge as Council Chair and Johnny Greene as Council Vice Chair for the upcoming year. Issues in this update include – Data Collection – Coral and Habitat Protection – Modifications to the Commercial Individual Fishing Quota Programs – Gray Triggerfish – Federal Reef Fish Headboat Survey Vessel Management – Red Snapper Management for Federally Permitted Charter Vessels – Mackerel – Council Wrap-Up Webinar – The Council will host a webinar to review the Council meeting. Please join us at 6 p.m. ESTWednesday, August 24 for a quick presentation followed by a question and answer session. Register for the webinar here:  To read the details, Click here 15:52

Texas Shrimp Association industry director steamed over Deepwater Horizon Restore Act money

texas shrimpers, restore act moneyAndrea Hance isn’t happy. The executive director of the Texas Shrimp Association said that of the billions of dollars in RESTORE Act money — fines related to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010 — that have been distributed to various groups in Gulf states, her industry received nothing for marketing and promotion, even though Texas shrimpers were significantly affected by the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It may all come down to the fact that, historically, the state’s industry has never had much of a voice, thus few people outside the industry understand it. But that doesn’t make Hance, who took the helm at TSA three years ago, feel any better about it. People assume that because the oil, which gushed from the seafloor for 87 days roughly 42 miles from the Louisiana coast, didn’t stray into Texas waters that the state’s shrimpers weren’t affected. In fact, when state and federal waters off Texas are closed to shrimping each year from mid-May to mid-July, the state’s fleet depends on the waters off Louisiana. Read the rest here 10:01

UNO awarded $232,500 grant to design device that protects sea turtles from being captured in small shrimping nets

11918020-mmmainThe University of New Orleans has been awarded a $232,500 grant to design a device that protects sea turtles from being captured in small shrimping nets. Federal law has long required shrimpers to use turtle excluder devices, or TEDS, in their nets, but the technology has been limited to use by shrimpers using vessels longer than 25-feet with nets designed for fishing deeper waters. Associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, Martin O’Connell, says shrimpers using smaller nets in shallower waters inshore have no options that enable them to keep the shrimp in and the turtles out. Most sea turtle species have been classified as threatened or endangered since 1978. Data suggests the primary cause of sea turtle death is incidental capture in U.S. shrimp trawls. Link 14:36

Louisiana: Shrimp season starts slowly in local waters

shrimper in dulac laFall shrimp season has gotten off to a slow start in area waters, fishermen and wholesalers say. The season opened at 6 Monday morning in Louisiana’s inshore waters, within three miles of the coast. east of the Atchafalaya River.Prices have been low in recent years, now about 80-90 cents per pound for small shrimp and $1.50 a pound for larger ones at the sheds. In past years, before a wave of farm-raised shrimp drove down prices, local fishermen could earn as much as $4.50 a pound for larger shrimp. Former commercial shrimper Timmy Melancon was born and raised in Leeville. He built his boat 35 years ago, but now the small hauls and low prices have made him lay off commercial shrimping. On Tuesday, he brought in a 200-pound haul of live shrimp that will mostly be used for fishing bait, and he even gave some away to family and friends since the prices are so low. Guy Duet, who owns the boat Mr. Magoo, had a little more luck shrimping north of Grand Isle. Duet and his crew hauled in about 1,200 pounds of shrimp, but they were mostly small. Read the story here   09:03

Menhaden aren’t being ‘decimated’ – Ronnie Sheldon, Pascagoula

menhadenLately, I’ve read several opinion articles about the menhaden fishery and problems with Omega Protein. I’m a lifelong resident of Pascagoula and a sport fisherman. I have no connections or interests in Omega Protein, but most of my spare time is spent fishing for trout and redfish, and I typically fish the same area (Round Island) where Omega Protein fishes for menhaden. I have no issue with menhaden fishing. Their industry provides hundreds of jobs and pumps millions of dollars into our local economy. Indirectly, their product helps provide food for many as animal feed. Their bycatch is closely regulated and very small. I’ve never personally seen evidence of any bycatch dumped overboard. Read the letter here 13:19

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting August 15 – 18, 2016, New Orleans, LA

Gulf-of-Mexico-Fishery-Management-Council-logoThe Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet August 15 – 18, 2016, at the Astor Crowne Plaza hotel in New Orleans, LA.  Committee meetings will convene Monday at 8:30 am and conclude at 11:00 am Wednesday. The full Council will convene Wednesday morning beginning at 11:15 am. The Council is expected to adjourn by 4:15 pm Thursday. Committees & Council Agenda Click here .   Public comment is scheduled Wednesday from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Testimony will be taken on the following: • Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Draft Environmental Impact Statement • Open testimony on any other fishery issues or concerns  Council meetings are open to the public and are broadcast live over the internet. Register for the webinar Click here 20:48

$1.25 Million Judgment Awarded to Injured Fisherman

justiceAttorney Matthew Shaffer obtained a $1.25 million dollar judgement from a federal district court in Galveston, Texas for his client, a commercial fisherman. The 54-year-old worker from Palacios, Texas was tying lines on a commercial fishing boat when he became trapped in marsh wetlands. He injured his knees and legs trying to free himself, but his boat and Captain abandoned him in the wetlands. Attorney Matthew Shaffer filed suit on behalf of the worker against the vessel owner and employer, alleging negligence under the Jones Act and failure to provide maintenance and cure benefits. “This worker was literally abandoned by the boat and its owner,” says Shaffer. “They left him injured and alone and failed to assist him in any form after he was injured. The employer has failed to pay for medical treatment or even pay for meager daily maintenance to keep a roof over our client’s head and food in his belly. We are so pleased that the Court ruled in his favor. We will continue to use all our efforts to obtain justice for this deserving worker.”  Link 11:25

Lake Pontchartrain is crawling with crabs again, and it has the January opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway to thank

20885669-mmmainGary Bauer, owner of Pontchartrain Blue Crab in Slidell, said crab production was abysmal in Lake Pontchartrain for three straight years, but it’s rebounded in 2016. “When I fished for a living, when the spillway was open, you knew you were going to have crabs for the next year or two,” he said. “The old-timers consider that fresh layer of silt to be like fertilizer.” A New Orleans East native, Bauer crabbed from 1979 through 1994, and opened his factory in 1999. He said both the quality and quantity of crabs have been better this year. “Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne have been way off, and this year it’s been an improvement,” Bauer said. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but there is definitely an improvement.” Bauer said some fishers pull right up to his dock to sell their catch, but he also buys crabs from wholesalers based around the coast. “A lot of people who used to fish here have moved on to greener pastures, where the crab production has been better,” he said. “The first five years we were in business, we had only one truck. Now we have four. That tells you where the crabs have been coming from.” Read the story here 14:06

Fishermen, scientists split on closures of triggerfish, amberjack

triggerfishOn any given day, charter boat captain Jeff Lassiter and his customers will catch dozens of gray triggerfish. Then they’ll toss them back in the water. “They’re dang near a nuisance,” But just two weeks before the scheduled Aug. 1 reopening date, national and state fishing officials changed their minds. Because of overfishing, NOAA Fisheries decided not to reopen triggerfish in federal waters this year, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) elected to follow suit. Officials said anglers already had met the allowable catch quota for the year, and to keep going would jeopardize the overall sustainability of the stock. NOAA also opted to not reopen amberjack for the same reasons, which means head boats and charter boat captains, which all have federal permits, will not be able to take customers out to fish for either species. Read the rest here 12:13

Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans Medevacs Diver from Fishing Vessel

1000w_q95A Coast Guard aircrew medevaced a 60-year-old-man suffering from signs of decompression sickness from a fishing vessel Friday evening. Jimmy Richard, 60, was aboard the Heavy Metal approximately 30 miles south of the Atchafalaya River when crewmembers requested Coast Guard assistance at 5:25 p.m. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans watchstanders launched a Coast Guard MH-65 helicopter crew from to conduct the medevac and an HC-144 crew from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile to provide additional support. The MH-65 crew arrived on scene at 7:03 p.m. and hoisted Richard. Richard was taken to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans and transferred by ambulance to West Jefferson Medical Center and was reported in stable condition. linkwatch video here 10:43

Mississippi fishermen busted with more than three tons of illegally caught shrimp in Louisiana waters

20864012-mmmainA Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agent Tuesday busted four Mississippi men with more than three tons of shrimp caught illegally in Louisiana waters, the agency reported. According to the department, Senior Agent Brett Nabors received a complaint about a boat actively shrimping in Lake Borgne near the Rigolets. After arriving in the area at 8:10 a.m., Nabors says he saw a boat with its nets in the water. He ordered the captain to retrieve his nets, and saw shrimp and bycatch in the closed tails of the trawls, the department reported. Nabors then cited Joe Tran, 48, Duc Le, 48, Tri Le, 55, and Phung Hoang, 59, for trawling in a closed season. He seized 6,100 pounds of shrimp, and sold them to the highest bidder. Using skimmers in a closed season brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail and forfeiture of anything seized. Read the rest here 11:30

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries sets fall inshore shrimp season opening dates

louisiana shrimpThe fall inshore shrimp season will have a split opening with the eastern part of the state opening at 6 p.m. on August 15 and the west side opening at 6 a.m. on August 22. The Atchafalaya River is the boundary line between the regions. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries unanimously approved the dates at its meeting Thursday morning. LDWF biologists set the dates based on research and samples. All locals who spoke at the meeting supported the dates. When samples were taken last week, the shrimp in the western part of the state in Vermilion, Cote Blanc and Calcasieu basins were still very small. The shrimp in the eastern part in Barataria and Terrebonne basins were significantly larger. The extra week for the west will allow the shrimp time to grow to the proper size for catching. Read the rest here 17:47

Florida Keys commercial lobster fleet prepares for Saturday’s opening

lobster-fireworks-Aug3Hopes are high for high prices and calm seas as the Florida Keys commercial lobster fleet prepares for Saturday’s opening of the regular crawfish season. “Based on the level of [juvenile lobster] recruitment we’ve seen, we expect another outstanding season,” Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, said Tuesday. Last year, Key commercial lobster trappers and divers collected about 5.2 million pounds of lobster, which accounts for 90 percent of Florida’s statewide lobster harvest. “Lobster is the largest [commercial fishing] cash crop in the Keys, and the largest in the state of Florida,” Kelly said. “Every season, our biggest issue facing lobster and stone-crab trap fishermen is tropical storms and hurricanes that displace and destroy gear and disrupt the normal migratory pattern of lobster,” Kelly said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.” Read the story here 07:55