Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Alabama seafood: fresh from the Gulf to your dinner plate

October is National Seafood Month, and there’s no better place than Alabama to enjoy fresh Gulf seafood. Whether you prefer red snapper, shrimp, flounder, oysters or blue crab, you can find it all here in the Heart of Dixie. We are a state with abundant natural resources both on land and at sea. Millions of seafood consumers from our state and across the country depend on the hard working commercial fishermen and women of Alabama supply them with some of the best seafood the country has to offer. click here to read the story 21:28

Hurricane Irma cuts Florida lobster harvest by half

A fresh catch of spiny lobster arrives dockside. But for marina owner Gary Graves, this delivery is too little, too late. “Basically, lobster fishing is pretty much over for us this year,”said Graves, who is vice president of Keys Fisheries wholesaler. Graves says Hurricane Irma dealt a severe blow when it hit Florida in September. Leaving a trail of wreckage on land, the storm also came just a month into lobster harvesting season. “We’re going to probably end up maybe 50 percent of a normal season the way it looks right now,” he said. click here to read the story 11:19

Tropical Storm Philippe heads toward Florida Keys

Tropical Storm Philippe, which formed Saturday afternoon (Oct. 28) off the coast of Cuba, was closing in on the Florida Keys hours later and expected to cross the southern tip of the state overnight. According to the National Hurricane Center, Philippe was still a weak tropical storm as of 8 p.m. Central time with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. It was was 75 miles southwest of Key West and moving north at 28 mph. The storm is expected to make a turn to the northeast overnight, taking it into the northwest Bahamas by Sunday morning. click here to read the story 21:36

Gulf of Mexico Now Largest Dead Zone in the World, and Factory Farming Is to Blame

Nitrogen fertilizers and sewage sludge runoff from factory farms are responsible for creating an enormous dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. As fertilizer runs off farms in agricultural states like Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and others, it enters the Mississippi River, leading to an overabundance of nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus, in the water.,, This, in turn, leads to the development of algal blooms, which alter the food chain and deplete oxygen, resulting in dead zones. Needless to say, the fishing industry is taking a big hit, each year getting worse than the last. The featured news report includes underwater footage that shows you just how bad the water quality has gotten. Video, click here to read the story 14:13

Report on U.S. Marine Sanctuary Oil Drilling Sent to White House, Not Released to Public

U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross sent a report to the White House on Wednesday containing recommendations on whether to change the boundaries of 11 marine sanctuaries to allow more oil and gas drilling, but the report was not made public. Commerce reviewed sanctuaries containing 425 million acres of coral reefs, marine mammal habitats and pristine beaches, as part of an administration strategy to open new areas to oil and gas drilling. click here to read the story 07:18

Coast Guard, partner agencies search for missing fisherman in the Gulf

The Coast Guard is searching for a missing man who was last seen aboard a fishing vessel approximately 37 miles southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana, at approximately 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The missing man is reported to be Vietnamese and wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants. The vessel identified through inquiry is F/V Miss Quinh Chi II. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received the report of the missing person at approximately 11:30 p.m. and directed the launch of Coast Guard Cutter Skipjack, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile to search for the man. Marine units from Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office are also on scene searching for the man. –USCG– 15:34

This Wing Will Fly! Wing Trawling System Wins Ocean Exchange Neptune Award

The Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Orcelle (R) and the Ocean Exchange Neptune Awards of $100,000 Each Were Given to Atlas Energy Systems and Wing Trawling System for Innovative Solutions That Support Zero Emissions and Sustainable Oceans. The winner of the Ocean Exchange Neptune Award in the amount of $100,000 USD is Wing Trawling System or WTS (USA-AL). This system can be adapted to existing commercial shrimp boats to reduce unwanted finfish by-catch by 60%+, while allowing a 20% increase in shrimp capture, and has shown 35% reduction in fuel consumption. The WTS looks like an airplane wing that flies just over the sea floor and holds the net open, eliminating the heavy sea floor contact of the trawl doors. The system was created and field-tested with six design generations by WTS founder, who has 49 years experience as a shrimper and many years experience as a mechanical designer. click here to read the story visit wingtrawlingsystem.com

Reassessed: More than half a million gallons of oil spilled in Gulf near Lousisiana

The U.S. Coast Guard has reassessed an oil spill that happened Oct. 13 (click here) near Venice Louisiana. While initial reports were thought to be at about 400,000 gallons of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico, LLOG, the company which owns the pipleine, estimates that 16,000 barrels were spilled — approximately 672,000 gallons of spilled oil. The oil discharge from a damaged pipeline approximately 40 miles south east of Venice, Louisiana. click here to read the story 11:51

Coast Guard suspends search for missing worker after explosion

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended their search for a Texas man who disappeared when an oil and gas platform exploded on a lake near New Orleans.  Authorities identified 44-year-old Timothy Morrison, of Katy, Texas, as the missing man. He was a subcontractor working on the structure. “The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one,” said Cmdr. Zac Ford. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the Morrison family and all those affected by this incident.”  click here to read the story 19:04

Of Shrimp and Petroleum

I am traveling south on Highway 1 through Iberville Parish, Louisiana. I pass fields of sugarcane, chemical factories, strange roadside cemeteries, and what appears to be a combination seafood restaurant and barbershop ambiguously advertising “‘Phresh Cuts.”’ It is Friday afternoon, the start of Labor Day weekend. It is a manageable 87 degrees outside, for now.,,, I’m headed to the annual Shrimp and Petroleum Festival in Morgan City. The festival is the oldest state-chartered harvest festival in Louisiana. It began in 1936 as a single day, when all the shrimp boats in Morgan City would line up in the Atchafalaya River to be blessed by a Catholic priest. In the 1960s, as oil became the dominant industry in town, petroleum was added to the name and the logo became a shrimp in a hard hat wrapped around an oil derrick. by Nick Chrastil   click here to read the story 11:02

Global Diving Helps Refloat Boats After Hurricane Harvey

The fishing vessel R&R is floating once again after spending a month at the bottom of Conn Brown Harbor in Aransas Pass, Texas. The 100-ton shrimp boat got entangled with another vessel and sank during Hurricane Harvey. She was refloated by Global Diving and Salvage, which was contracted by the Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office (GLO) to remove her from the waterway. Approximately 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel and other pollutants were pumped off before de-watering the vessel. images, click here to read the story 21:08

Louisiana – 1 missing after oil rig explodes on Lake Pontchartrain

An oil rig explosion on a lake north of New Orleans, apparently caused when cleaning chemicals ignited, injured seven people and left authorities searching for another who was missing. There were “a lot of injuries,” many of them serious, with at least seven confirmed and more expected from the Sunday evening explosion on Lake Pontchartrain, Kenner Police Department spokesman Sgt. Brian McGregor told The Times-Picayune . No deaths were immediately reported. click here to read the story 07:53

The consumer demand for local seafood: Industry leaders want to bypass imports

Brenda Johnson was having a pleasant time at last month’s Best of the Bayou festival in downtown Houma when she got a little hungry and was drawn to a vendor booth where the fare included golden fried shrimp. “I was getting ready to order some shrimp when I asked the girl where they were from,” said Johnson, a retired city court worker. The woman serving the shrimp wasn’t sure so she asked a man working the booth, who said with a smile that the shrimp were “Asian farm-raised shrimp.” Johnson waved her hand at the booth and went elsewhere. “I couldn’t believe they were selling that shrimp at a ‘Best of the Bayou’ festival,” said Johnson, who contacted her parish councilman and asked if anything could be done. click here to read the story 12:51

“The fact is, law abiding, licensed commercial fishermen are considered by our government to be the most dangerous people in America.”

In September 1983 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Balelo v Baldridge decided the first court challenge against the government policy of placing federal observers on commercial fishing vessels to monitor their operations. The plaintiffs were Pacific tuna purse seiners. This the first observer program in the American fishing industry was enacted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The first observers spent many weeks on the high seas with the fishermen at a time when there was literally no other way to assure that the newly enacted law — meant to bring the mortality of marine mammals in the tuna fishery as close to zero as possible — was being followed by these operations. It was provided for in this portion of the MMPA that the captains be given notice well in advance of the required observer trips and that the funding be fully covered by Congress. click here to read the story 19:21

Coast Guard, federal agencies responding to offshore oil spill in the Gulf

The Coast Guard is responding to the report of a crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report from the National Response Center at 1:30 p.m., Friday of a discharge from a damaged pipeline associated with a subsea well approximately 40 miles southeast of Venice, LA.  The pipeline, which is operated by LLOG Exploration, has been secured. LLOG exploration reported that the volume of oil released is estimated to be between 333,900 and 392,700 gallons.  Initial overflights identified three light sheens in the vicinity. click here to read press release 15:14

Coast Guard responds to oil spill off Louisiana coast – LLOG Exploration Company LLC, a privately-owned deepwater exploration company, reported the spill, which occurred 40 miles southeast of Venice, La., click here to read the story

Stone crab season opens Sunday — but will the hurricane affect the haul?

But the big question this year is how abundant — and how expensive — the claws will be a month after a hurricane wrecked a huge swath of the fishing areas in the Florida Keys. Fresh Florida spiny lobster was hard to find in the last month, after the trapping industry bore Hurricane Irma’s brunt. The storm scattered and destroyed tens of thousands of lobster traps as the Keys’ fishing industry — the second-largest economic driver in Monroe County at more than $150 million — was paralyzed for three weeks. “What did Hurricane Irma do to the stone crab haul? We’re going to find out,” said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association. click here to read the story 11:23

Alabama Red Snapper Reporting System – Snapper checks show fear of exceeding quota unfounded

Preliminary numbers from the Alabama Red Snapper Reporting System, aka Snapper Check, indicate the fear that Alabama anglers would exceed the 2017 quota were unfounded. “Using the Alabama Snapper Check numbers, we’re going to be well within the historic allocation for Alabama, so the 39-day season did not put us over, which was a concern for the commercial fishing community and part of the charter fishing community,” said Scott Bannon, Acting Director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD). “Now the concern we have is what the MRIP (Marine Recreational Information Program) numbers will show, and those numbers are not out yet.” click here to read the story 09:11

Stock Island Fishermen bank on stone crab to salvage season

Commercial trap fishermen are banking on a healthy stone crab season to help cover losses from a shaky start to spiny lobster season that was more than disrupted by Hurricane Irma. Fishermen will start pulling their traps for stone crab season and harvesting crab claws on Sunday. The season runs through May 15.  Thousands of spiny lobster traps were either destroyed, damaged or moved several miles when Hurricane Irma ravaged the Florida Keys on Sept. 10, a little more than a month after the lobster season started.  On Tuesday, commercial fishermen Justin Martin and Patrick Brennan loaded stone crab traps onto a boat at the docks off Front Street on Stock Island. click here to read the story 08:01

After Irma: Storms leave lobsters, stone crab seasons underwater

The Florida Keys have re-opened, but Capt. Billy Niles and his fellow lobster fishermen have to find their traps before they are really back in business. “We’re locating them, but it takes a while,” said Niles, a veteran of the Keys lobster trade for the past seven decades. “Some storms lose more than others.” Irma lost plenty of them. Or better said, the Keys lost plenty in Irma. In the lobster sector, said to be the Keys second most-important industry, the damage is underwater. click here to read the story 09:12

Gulf Coast spared the worst as Hurricane Nate rapidly weakens

Hurricane Nate brought a burst of flooding and power cuts to the US Gulf Coast – but spared the region the kind of catastrophic damage left by a series of hurricanes in recent weeks. Nate – the first hurricane to make landfall in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005 – quickly lost strength, with its winds diminishing to a tropical depression as it pushed northward into Alabama and towards Georgia with heavy rain. click here to read the story 08:03

Tropical storm Nate weakens but rain, floods to continue

A fast-moving storm called Nate brought flooding and power outages to the U.S. Gulf Coast early Sunday after it sloshed ashore outside Biloxi, Mississippi — the first hurricane to make landfall in that state since Katrina devastated the region 12 years ago. The storm hit Mississippi as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 85 mph (140 kph) but weakened later to a tropical storm as it moved inland, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. More than 100,000 residents in Mississippi and Alabama were without power following the arrival of Nate, but no deaths or injuries were reported early Sunday. click here to read the story 09:53

1600 UPDATE Hurricane Nate – National Hurricane Center Public Advisory

At 400 PM CDT, the center of Hurricane Nate was located near latitude 28.4 North, longitude 89.1 West. Nate is moving toward the north-northwest near 23 mph (37 km/h). A turn toward the
north and a slight decrease in forward speed are expected during the next several hours, followed by a turn toward the north-northeast later tonight.,, Maximum sustained winds are near 90 mph (150 km/h) with higher gusts. Some strengthening is possible before landfall, and Nate could still become a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale this evening. Rapid weakening is expected after landfall. click here to read the update 16:59

UPDATED 0800: National Hurricane Center – Hurricane Nate Public Advisory

At 700 AM CDT , the center of Hurricane Nate was located near latitude 25.7 North, longitude 88.0 West. Nate is moving toward the north-northwest near 22 mph (35 km/h), and this general fast
motion is expected to continue through tonight. A turn toward the north is forecast on Sunday morning, followed by a turn toward the north-northeast thereafter. On the forecast track, the center of Nate will move across the central and northern Gulf of Mexico today and will make landfall along the central U.S. Gulf coast tonight. click here to read the forecast07:59

Cooke acquires Omega Protein for nearly USD 500 million

Cooke Aquaculture’s parent company has acquired Texas-based fish oil and fishmeal producer Omega Protein for nearly USD 500 million (EUR 428 million). The agreement has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of each of Omega Protein and Cooke, according to a press release. Cooke Inc., based in New Brunswick, Canada, and Houston-headquartered Omega Protein agreed to a purchase price of USD 22.00 (EUR 18.81) per share for the publicly traded company.,, The transaction, which is expected to close near the end of 2017 or early in 2018, according to Cooke, is subject to the approval of Omega Protein stockholders, certain regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions. click here to read the story 14:30

Tropical Storm Nate: Path brings a hurricane to northern Gulf Coast earlier

Tropical Storm Nate got a little stronger and picked up speed on Friday morning on a path that could bring it to the northern Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane in less than 48 hours. The center of the storm moved back over water early Friday after spending most of Thursday over Central America. Nate will move near or over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula tonight and then enter the Gulf of Mexico late tonight or early Saturday. Nate is forecast to then race across the Gulf and could be nearing the coast of Louisiana by early Sunday morning. click here to read the story 08:25

Hurricane Harvey: Port Aransas family weathers storm in shrimp boat

The word of a hurricane didn’t stop one Port Aransas family from staying in town. But where they did stay may come as a surprise. John and Molly Nixon stayed on their 600-ton shrimp boat – the Polly Anna. They made the decision to ride out the storm while it was still a tropical depression. But quickly, that turned into a category four hurricane. “I’ve never seen the wind blow so hard,” John Nixon said. “It was just screaming. It was so loud. It felt like a freight train was coming by you.” Video, click here to read the story 21:42

Florida Fishermen Pin Their Hopes On Stone Crab Season after Hurricane Irma

On Florida’s Marathon Key, lobster boats pull up to the docks in the afternoon, same as they would on any September day. But this year, instead of hauling in thousands of valuable spiny lobsters, most are unloading the few traps they can find, and maybe a quarter of the usual catch. Boat captain Carlos Moreira is tired after a long day at sea searching for lost traps.  “Well you gotta start somewhere, so you just look for one,” says Moreira.  “Yesterday, from where I had my traps to where I found them, they were 7 miles away. And to travel around, and try to find a 7 and a half inch buoy in the Gulf of Mexico, is a challenge.” click here to read the story 08:16

A double whammy at trap yard – First, a fire, then a hurricane. What can possibly come next? “A lot of guys lost a lot of gear again. They rebuilt all the traps lost in the fire, so all those traps were lost for a second time,” click here to read the story

Death of deckhand in Hurricane Irma leaves void in Tarpon Springs

The boat was 32 feet, white fiberglass, with sails stretching up, up, up. It was, Carl Shepherd decided that day, the boat he would retire in. “What are you going to do?” asked his friend, Michael Ellzey, who drove him to Fort Myers in August to check out the vessel. Sail everywhere, Shepherd told him. Live out the rest of his life on the water. But Shepherd didn’t get to spend his last years peacefully on a sailboat. Instead, he spent his final moments in chaos on a shrimp trawler in the middle of one of the most powerful hurricanes in recent history. click here to read the story 11:28

More Mississippi River sediment will mean more problems for Louisiana shrimpers

Louisiana’s quintessential shrimper – the independent, weather-beaten man with a small boat that’s seen better days – may be the hardest hit by two sediment diversions planned on the Mississippi River.  A new report indicates many shrimpers will need help adapting, possibly in the form of grants, subsidies and job re-training, once the diversions begin funneling fresh water and sediment into Barataria Bay and Breton Sound. The sediment is likely to alter the distribution, abundance and types of shrimp in areas where shrimpers have fished for decades. Most vulnerable will be shrimpers with small, one-boat operations who are middle-aged or older and cannot easily transition to another career, according to the report by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, a Baton Rouge-based nonprofit group. click here to read the story 10:08

MSA Reauthorization – Fishing rule reforms debated on Capitol Hill

How large of a role should the federal government have in regulating fishing fleets? Republicans and Democrats on the House Committee on Natural Resources discussed this question Tuesday in Washington, D.C., as part of renewed efforts to reauthorize and potentially amend a 40-year-old law that works to prevent overfishing and provide aid to fishing fleets.,, Several changes to the law have been made since 1996, such as setting annual catch limits and a 10-year timeline to rebuild overfished or depleted fish stocks. Republican committee members such as Alaska Rep. Don Young said these changes have taken a one-size-fits-all approach rather than provide more flexibility for regional fishery management councils to manage their own fisheries. click here to read the story 09:47

Watch Legislative Hearing on 4 Fishery Bills – click here for video