Category Archives: South Atlantic

Chris Oliver Appointed to Lead NOAA Fisheries

Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, with concurrence from the White House, named Chris Oliver Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. The Texas native assumed his new position on June 19, taking the helm from Acting Assistant Administrator Samuel Rauch who will return to his position as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs.,,, Oliver most recently served as Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a position he held for the past 16 years. He has been with the Council since 1990, also serving as a fisheries biologist and then deputy director. During his tenure as executive director he led the way on several cutting edge management initiatives, including development of limited access privilege programs and fishery cooperatives and catch share programs, the North Pacific’s comprehensive onboard observer program, numerous bycatch reduction programs, extensive habitat protection measures, commercial and recreational allocation programs, and coastal community development programs. He was also responsible for all administrative and operational aspects of the Council process, and lead staffer for legislative and international issues. click here to read the press release 11:32

Finding purpose and taking pride in your work, even when it’s cutting fish

As a young boy, David Bruns loved to play on the docks at Shem Creek. He’d always wait to see what the fishing boats and shrimp trawlers unloaded. The salt spray and pluff mud seemed part of his DNA. Born and raised in Mount Pleasant, Bruns looked like he could be a defensive lineman. But he was far more fascinated with fish than football. After his days were done at Wando High School, Bruns found work as a driver for Simmons Seafood. While some workers might complain about the smell or the hours, Bruns believed he was around the business and the people for a reason. After three years, he applied for a position with Crosby’s Seafood. This, too, involved making some deliveries, but there was an additional opportunity. He could learn to cut fish. Bruns was taught the intricacies of boning and filleting fish. If you cut meat, you’re a butcher. If you dissect fish, you’re a fish cutter. click here to read the story 20:18

Georgia shrimping season spawns unusual crop: optimism

The rope that dangled down into the hold of the Jo Ann B from a small square opening in the deck suddenly went taut. The winch overhead hummed Friday as it strained, slowly raising a 55-gallon plastic can loaded to the brim with Coastal Georgia’s most-prized saltwater delicacy. The bounty of wild Georgia shrimp swayed high above the boat Friday morning, then swung over to the City Market docks. Jake Wilson took it from there, manhandling the huge bucket of white roe shrimp and dumping the catch into a spacious water trough for processing at the City Market plant on Brunswick’s East River. This process repeats itself many times before Capt. Joe Williams’ Jo Ann B had unloaded its plentiful catch for the day. Entering the third week of the 2017 shrimping season in Georgia’s state waters, the folks who ply the coast to bring the Golden Isles these delicious crustaceans are feeling something strange: optimism. click here to read the story 11:18

Stop efforts to limit the number of charter and head boats — the first step toward for-hire catch shares!

This Wednesday, June 13th, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will again consider snapper-grouper for-hire limited entry at its meeting in Ponte Vedra, Florida, so it’s important to tell the SAFMC that you oppose limited entry as soon as possible. Please click here today to submit a comment — just a sentence or two will do. Limited entry will set up a “stock market” for permits, setting the stage for charter and head boat catch shares — privatizing access to the fishery –- something that will destroy jobs and hurt fishing communities.  click here to read the notice   click here to make E-public comment by noon, 6/15/2017 07:32

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, June 12-16, 2017

The public is invited to attend the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to be held at the Sawgrass Marriott, 1ooo PGA Tour Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082 . Click here for details Webinar Registration: Listen Live, Click here 19:05

We must fight any plan to drill off the Jersey Shore

Drilling for oil and natural gas off the coast of New Jersey is a bad idea that never goes away.,,, Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, oil companies actually drilled exploratory wells off Atlantic City. They didn’t find significant enough deposits to continue the effort. But here we are again. New Jersey’s two U.S. senators and House members from coastal districts are opposing the latest push for offshore drilling, just as they have done every time this issue has bubbled to the surface, no matter their party. And the argument — a good one — against offshore drilling is always the same: Why endanger the state’s $44 billion-a-year tourism industry and the 500,000 jobs it supports? Half of that revenue is generated from counties along the coast. Offshore drilling could also threaten the state’s $7.9 billion-a-year fishing industry and the 50,000 jobs it creates. click here to read the story 17:54

Vaca Key Marina owner’s son: ‘We will rebuild’

Even though the damage caused by a massive fire in Marathon Monday has been devastating to those who lived and work at the Vaca Key Marina, efforts to rebuild are underway. The June 6 fire that tore through the 1-acre bayside marina at mile marker 47.5 destroyed three boats, a house, six forklifts and thousands of lobster traps from 2 to 5:30 a.m. Traffic in both directions was shut down for hours. Capt. Dave Dipre with the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was at the marina Thursday assessing the number of lobster and stone-crab traps lost in the fire and said the actual number is closer to 10,000, contrary to the 20,000 originally reported lost. On the other, unfortunate, hand, what was first thought to be $1 million in estimated damage is now closer to $2 million, said Juan Carlos Berdeal, son of property owner Carlos Berdeal of Miami. click here to read the story 08:21

Coast Guard probes ‘oily sheen’ at Port Canaveral, zeroing in on two commercial fishing vessels

The Coast Guard is in the midst of a full-scale investigation of what the agency and Port Canaveral officials are describing as an “oily sheen” that was reported over Memorial Day weekend in the channel near the Cove area of the port. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Stephen West, marine safety detachment supervisor at Port Canaveral, said the Coast Guard zeroed on two commercial fishing vessels that were in Port Canaveral at the time of the incident as the potential sources of the substance in the water. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Josh Decker, who is working on the investigation, said samples from the bilge of the two boats were sent to a special laboratory in New London, Connecticut, to see if they match a sample of the oily substance found in the port channel. Decker said each sample has its own characteristics, and no two are alike, much like a fingerprint. So getting a match would indicate proof of the boat that was the source of the substance in the water. click here to read the story 14:37

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

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

Beaufort County residents step in to raise money for damaged F/V Gracie Belle

The 80-foot shrimping trawler “Gracie Belle” still sits at a dock on Saint Helena Island, despite the fact that it was meant to be out catching Beaufort County’s food. Owner Craig Reaves said the vessel was heavily damaged after getting caught in severe weather two weeks ago on opening day of the season. “I called the captain on the phone and he said that the mast had broke and there was an outrigger down. Basically, you know, he panicked,” Reaves said. Reaves said this all happened around 3 a.m. off of Pritchards Island. He said his crew felt in danger, and called the U.S. Coast Guard to be rescued. The crew had to leave “Gracie Belle” at sea. When Reaves went to recover his vessel Wednesday morning, the damage was worse than he was originally told. click here to read the story, and click here for the fundraiser Save Gracie Belle 10:00

NOAA sets table for seismic testing offshore, including off South Carolina

The Trump administration took a big step Monday toward permitting seismic testing for the presence of oil and natural gas in the offshore Atlantic, issuing the rules for how the tests take place. The tests would provide data sold to drilling companies to locate where to drill test wells. The move had been expected after President Donald Trump in April ordered a review of the Obama administration’s closings and lease denials of potential new offshore drilling sites.,, “Why would the government even think about allowing the filthy, accident-prone oil industry to proceed with this dangerous procedure that so greatly affects the same wildlife we’re all trying to protect through restrictive fishing regulations?” asked Rick Baumann, the owner of Murrells Inlet Seafood. click here to read the story 21:14

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

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

Major marina fire shuts down Overseas Highway in Keys

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

Ed Killer: Can a protected fish be a nuisance?

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

Georgia shrimp season opens June 1

Georgia waters will open for commercial and recreational harvest of food shrimp at 8 a.m. Thursday. “The white shrimp abundance in our May coastwide trawl survey is higher compared to historic averages for the month of May,” said Lindsey Aubart, the Coastal Resources Division biologist supervising monthly shrimp sampling. “The shrimp sizes are highly desirable to recreational harvesters and valuable to commercial fishermen. The recommendation to open on June 1 was made after taking into consideration our May survey results and input received from our Shrimp Advisory Panel.” Last year there were 261 licensed shrimp trawlers and 25 cast-net shrimp harvesters. They brought in an estimated $8.3 million worth of shrimp. click here to read the story 09:56

We should never allow offshore oil drilling near Myrtle Beach, BY Carol Coney

Jeffrey Nelson’s letter of May 9 tries to convey a sense of safety that new technology will bring to offshore drilling. He feels that underwater drilling platforms guided from miles away will somehow prevent oil spills. What he fails to mention is that technology quite often fails. Combine remote control with a platform many miles beneath the surface, and you are asking for disaster. Yet his premise is that if it is underwater and you can’t see it, it must be safe.Consider this: The Deepwater Horizon drilling platform was using proven technology and, according to the government investigation, failed because of human error and gross negligence. No amount of new technology will eliminate causes like that. Click here to read the op-ed 16:58

Coast Guard suspends search for the Crew of the Miss Debbie

The Coast Guard suspended their search at approximately 8:20 p.m. Friday for three missing boaters one mile northeast of Tybee Island. “Suspending a case is never an easy decision, nor is it a decision that is hastily made,” said Captain Gary Tomasulo, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Charleston. “We remain ready to reinstitute a search if new information becomes available.” Click here for the press release 20:45

NOAA Forecasts Busy Hurricane Season for Atlantic

Less than a year after Hurricane Matthew raked the East Coast, killing 34 people and causing $10 billion in damage in the U.S. alone, coastal areas are once again preparing for the onset of the Atlantic hurricane season. This year, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are expecting to see above-average storm numbers in the Atlantic, despite the uncertainty of whether an El Nino will develop over the summer. The forecast is currently for 11 to 17 named storms to form, of which five to nine are expected to become hurricanes, and two to four major hurricanes. The forecast, though, does not predict when, where, and how these storms might hit, Ben Friedman, the acting NOAA administrator said during a press conference, as he and other officials urged coastal residents to begin their preparations. Click here to read the story 10:38

Beaufort shrimper brings damaged trawler home: ‘It’s life or death. It’s what we do’

If not for opening day, a shrimp fleet might have been spared the dings, bruises and brokenness the boats were nursing at a private dock on St. Helena Island on Thursday. But opening day for a shrimper is a hallowed date. South Carolina waters are open to trawling and those who make a living in white rubber boots are on the water. Even when the weather this week churned up some of the nastiest conditions experienced fishermen had ever seen. It was during a storm early Wednesday morning, in the dark more than a mile off of Pritchards Island, that the shrimp boat Gracie Belle was waiting for daylight and the 8 a.m. start of shrimp season. The boat and its crew wouldn’t make it to work, though all would be saved by the end of the day. Good Video, Great story!  Click here to read the story 18:12

Coast Guard identifies missing Fishermen, search continues for the Crew of F/V Miss Debbie

The search resumes Thursday for three men lost at sea when their fishing boat capsized as a result of a reported tornado. Hobo Seafood, which owns the capsized boat, Miss Debbie, put out a notice Thursday morning saying the search Wednesday – which was Day 2 of searching – was unfruitful largely due to uncooperative weather. “Weather has been too rough for divers to inspect the fishing vessel, but they are using other means for the search,” Hobo Seafood put out in a statement. Click here to read the story Coast Guard identifies missing fishermen, The Coast Guard identified Gary McGowen, Benjamin Dover and Isaac West as the three adult males that went missing about one mile northeast of Tybee Island on Tuesday evening. Click here to read the story 16:31

Crew held against their will? U.S. Coast Guard investigating commercial fishing trip.

One captain, three crewmen with little experience, and two very different stories about what happened on a fishing trip that ended with a U.S. Coast Guard escort back to land. Bill Owen, one of the crew members, said he felt held against his will while working on a commercial fishing boat that left out of Ft. Pierce on May 11. Owen said he responded to an online job posting looking to hire fishing hands. He said the trip was to last six days but on the fifth day, things turned combative.  “Tuesday came and we were told we’re not going in [to land], [the captain said] I’m not going to tell you when we’re going in, I’m not going to tell you where we are,” said Owen. “It got progressively worse [going] from just aggressive talk to aggressive actions. That’s when it went from being not fun to this is a serious issue.” Saved by the Phone,,, Click here to read the story 09:38

Coast Guard rescues 4 Fishermen from disabled Fishing Vessel 2 miles east of Pritchards Island

The Coast Guard rescued four Fishermen Wednesday after their vessel became disabled two miles east of Pritchards Island. Coast Guard Sector Charleston Command Center watch standers were notified via VHF Channel 16 at 2:45 a.m., by the crew of the Gracie Bell, an 80-foot fishing vessel, stating they had become disabled due to a broken mast. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Facility Charleston was diverted to assist at 3:11 a.m. The helicopter crew arrived on scene at 3:16 a.m., lowered a rescue swimmer and hoisted two crew members. The rescue swimmer and the remaining two crew members stayed aboard the vessel. The first two crew members were transported to Coast Guard Air Station Savannah at 3:30 a.m. The helicopter crew, after refueling, hoisted the remaining crew members and the rescue swimmer at 5:21 a.m., and landed at the air station at 5:36 a.m., where EMS were waiting. There were no reported injuries. USCG 16:22

Coast Guard searches for missing Fishermen from Capsized Fishing Vessel 1 mile northeast of Tybee Island

The Coast Guard is searching Wednesday for missing boaters approximately one mile northeast of Tybee Island, Georgia. Coast Guard Sector Charleston Command Center watchstanders were notified by the District 7 Command Center at 6:22 p.m., Tuesday, of an emergency position indicating radio beacon activation registered to the 47-foot fishing vessel Miss Debbie. A Coast Guard Station Tybee Island 45-foot Response Boat – Medium boatcrew launched at 7:35 p.m. The RB-M boatcrew arrived on scene at 7:48 and discovered the Miss Debbie capsized and began a search for crew members.  A Coast Guard Air Station Savannah MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched to assist in the search. Georgia and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources are also assisting search efforts. USCG 11:44

A favorable forecast offered for 2017 South Carolina shrimp season

Commercial shrimp trawling will open in all legal South Carolina waters at 8 a.m. on May 24 and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) biologists are optimistic about the coming season. “So far we’ve seen indications that it should be a good year,” said Mel Bell, director of SCDNR’s Office of Fisheries Management. “Of course, after establishing the opening date, based on the condition of the resource, we have no control over how things will go. The success of the season will be up to the hard work of the fishermen and the environmental conditions they encounter throughout the year.” The present season comes on the heels of an unusual year. click here to read the story 09:47

How Maine came to play a central role in an international eel smuggling scheme

Years after officials launched an investigation into baby eel poaching on the East Coast, the first of several men to plead guilty to participating in the wildlife trafficking ring was sentenced last week in a federal courtroom in Maine. Michael Bryant, 40, a former Baileyville resident who now lives in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, is one of more than a dozen men who the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says poached thousands of pounds of the baby eels, also known as elvers or “glass” eels, from 2011 through 2014. Since 2011, elvers on average have fetched around $1,500 per pound for fishermen, and netted more than $4 million total for the 12 convicted poachers who have pleaded guilty to federal charges in South Carolina, Virginia and Maine. Maine found itself at the center of a criminal enterprise that illegally netted elvers along the Atlantic seaboard, where most states ban their harvesting, and then shipped the eels overseas to feed East Asia’s voracious seafood appetite, according to investigators. click here to read the story 14:43

Offshore exploration and drilling back on table for Georgia

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it is moving forward on seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, the first step toward offshore drilling in a region where it has been blocked for decades. The Interior Department plans to review six applications by energy companies that were rejected in January by the Obama administration. Local and state environmental groups as well as many coastal municipalities oppose the surveys, saying loud sounds from seismic air guns could hurt marine life. Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, and Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Savannah, remain in favor of seismic testing and offshore drilling. “With a vibrant commercial fishery industry and the only known calving ground for endangered North Atlantic right whales just off our coast, Georgians oppose seismic testing for offshore oil exploration and the risks it poses to our state’s wildlife, wild places, and quality of life,” said Alice Keyes, vice president for coastal conservation at Coastal Georgia-based One Hundred Miles. Click here to read the story 19:19

Coast Guard rescues 3 fishermen near St. Simons Island

The Coast Guard rescued three fishermen Thursday after their vessel began taking on water near St. Simons Island, Georgia. Coast Guard Sector Charleston Command Center watch standers received a call at 1:54 p.m. from a good Samaritan stating the Lady Vanessa, a 73-foot fishing vessel, was taking on water with three people on board. A Coast Guard Station Brunswick 29-foot Response boat crew launched and two Coast Guard Air Station Savannah MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews launched at approximately 2:20 p.m. to assist. The helicopter crew arrived on scene at 2:46 p.m., hoisted the three fishermen and transported them to St. Simons Island Airport to awaiting EMS personnel. Click here for more images 08:01

Sharks not a blessing to Georgia shrimp fleet

Men like Johnnie Ray Bennett and Ben McDowell do not have to read a federal marine biologist’s study to tell them sharks are thriving in the Atlantic Ocean. These Brunswick shrimp boat captains routinely see the evidence nowadays just about every time they pull in their trawl nets. After returning from a shrimping run Wednesday to the City Market docks, Bennett stood aboard the Flying Cloud and put his fist through one of many gaping holes in the net that hung from the rigging.,,, Marine biologists see the growing shark population as a sign of a healthy ocean ecosystem, and some folks would just rather not think about sharks in our waters at all. But for shrimpers these days, sharks are a downright nuisance. Shrimpers are spending as much time sewing patches in nets as they are dragging nets for shrimp. Click here to read the story 09:10

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Alexandria, Virginia May 8 – 11, 2017 – Listen Live

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will meet at The Westin Alexandria, 400 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, May 8 – 11, 2017  The agenda is subject to change. The agenda reflects the current estimate of time required for scheduled Board meetings.  Click here for details, Click here for webinar 12:37

Florida’s building boom threatens wildlife-rich lagoon

The most biologically diverse waterway in America is seriously ill. The Indian River Lagoon is repeatedly being choked with oxygen-robbing algae, its surface increasingly dotted with thousands of dead fish, manatees, birds and other creatures. The culprits: farm runoff and a huge influx of people that has sent lawn fertilizer and other pollutants into the lagoon, which runs 156 miles along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, almost to Palm Beach, and includes the Cape Canaveral area. “It’s the death by a thousand cuts,” said Bob Knight, an environmental scientist with the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute who has studied Florida’s waters for 40 years. The lagoon’s woes threaten the region’s $2.5 billion recreation, fishing and tourism economy, alarming kayak tour operators, charter boat captains, restaurateurs and organizers of bird-watching festivals. click here to read the story 19:48