Category Archives: South Atlantic

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

Business Opposition Grows Stronger to Offshore Oil Exploration and Drilling

Today we are delivering our clear message to Interior Secretary Zinke—no offshore oil exploration and drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. With the addition of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce this week, BAPAC represents over 41,000 businesses and over 500,000 commercial fishing families opposing offshore exploration and drilling for oil in the Atlantic. We are building a green wall—business by business—to protect our vibrant tourism, recreation and commercial fishing economy that would be seriously threatened by the marine-life devastation of seimic airgun blasting and the inevitable destructive leaks, spills and industrialization that comes with drilling. We are not the Gulf Coast nor are we envious of the industrialization of the Gulf Coast. Their economy is oil. Ours is tourism, recreation and commercial fishing. The two economies are incompatible. click here to read the story 14:51

South Carolina: 30th on the 30th – Blessing of the Fleet marks start of shrimp season

The 30th annual Blessing of the Fleet will be held April 30 with an anticipated fleet of 13 boats. Continuing the tradition began by the Magwood family, who started the festival in 1988, every year the proceeds from the festival are donated to local nonprofit organizations. The Town of Mount Pleasant has chosen the Charleston Port and Seafarers’ Society and East Cooper Meals on Wheels to receive the net proceeds of the 30th annual Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival. Meet the captains –  click here to read the rest and view the images 15:28

Debate simmers over Atlantic oil, gas exploration

On this dock, where captains and first mates are freshening their boats with coats of white paint and rigging up new shrimp trawling gear to take to springtime Atlantic waters, the debate over drilling for oil in East Coast waters divides colleagues and, occasionally, families. Much of Capt. Wayne Magwood’s pro-offshore drilling stance comes down to a pocketbook issue. Burning through 1,000 gallons of diesel a week in his boat Winds of Fortune is manageable with low diesel costs, but past high fuel prices have made the economics of shrimping nearly impossible. “I’m tired of paying $4 a gallon. I’d like to pay $2 a gallon,” the 64-year-old Magwood said. “We don’t want to be dependent on foreign oil. We can’t get it when we need it. I think it’s good for the local economy. Environmentalists are doing a good job of regulating it and they’ve done a good job in the Gulf.”,, But to many on South Carolina’s coast, good money isn’t about oil. It’s about a way of life, attractive to locals and visitors alike. click here to read this big article. 13:29

ICE searching shrimp boats docked at Mayport, Fernandina

A shrimping boat docked at Mayport and another at Fernandina Beach were searched Wednesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office dive team and at least one officer of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were assisting in the Mayport search of the Mattie Fay at the dock of Safe Harbor Seafood, next to the U.S. Coast Guard Station. The Captain A.B. was the boat being searched in Fernandina. The two shrimping boats are owned by brothers, who had just returned from Key West after at least 20 days at sea. Leon Reid runs Mattie Fay and Ricky Armstrong runs Captain A.B. click here to read the story 13:37

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke – Keep Offshore Oil Drilling and Seismic Testing Away From the Atlantic Coast

On April 6 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told the National Ocean Industries Association that an executive order was forthcoming that would start the process of rewriting the five-year plan for the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The next day an op-ed in Morning Consult by Carl Bentzel began Big Oil’s public relations campaign to paint oil/gas exploration and drilling off the Atlantic coast as safe and oil-spill free given new technology and safeguards. Mr. Bentzel argues that the “first steps should be responsible assessment of oil and gas resources in our South Atlantic Ocean.”  So let’s start with seismic airgun blasting that is the essence of this exploration. While proponents of seismic testing say the process is safe for marine life and will provide information for a public debate, neither point is factual. click here to read the op-ed 09:17

Where to find fresh South Carolina shrimp: ‘The more marsh, the more shrimp’

“Shrimp are more concentrated off inlets from which they come out,” said Mel Bell, fisheries director for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Fresh shrimp could soon be ready for the cooker. The 2017 season is on the cusp of opening, and some boats already have catches in federally controlled ocean waters. Another good year of shrimping is forecast, mostly because more crustaceans survived the winter in relatively warmer waters. The DNR plans offshore sample trawls in the coming week after encouraging numbers of shrimp were found in previous inshore trawls. Outer state waters could be opened after that. Last year, the outer state waters — roughly two miles from shore — opened April 11. The nearshore waters, the heart of the shrimping grounds, opened a month later. Meanwhile, the federal waters farther out never did close over the winter and a few boats have continued to work them when the weather allows it. click here to read the story 10:42

Snapper silliness still has anglers seeing red

The bumper sticker on the white Ford pickup truck could not have been more clear: “National Marine Fisheries Service: Destroying Fishermen and Their Communities Since 1976!” Poignant. Harsh, even. But tame by today’s standards. The sticker made me think of an issue affecting offshore bottom fishermen who depart inlets between the Treasure Coast and South Carolina. I’m no mathematician, but something fishy is going on with red snapper statistics. Red snapper, a larger cousin of mutton snapper and mangrove snapper, resides in waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It is presently off limits to harvest by east coast anglers, and has been since 2010. The reason? Because 10 years ago, fisheries statisticians determined that the red snapper fishery was “undergoing overfishing.” Along with “jumbo shrimp,” that expression is still one of my all-time favorite oxymorons. click to continue reading the story here 08:28

Coastal shark population on rise in southeast U.S, Gulf of Mexico

A recent analysis of population trends among coastal sharks of the southeast U.S. shows that all but one of the seven species studied are increasing in abundance. The gains follow an enactment of fishing regulations in the early 1990s after decades of declining shark numbers. Scientists estimate that over-fishing of sharks along the southeast U.S. coast—which began in earnest following the release of Jaws in 1975 and continued through the 1980s—had reduced populations by 60-99 percent compared to unfished levels.,, The researchers say their study—based on modeling of combined data from six different scientific surveys conducted along the US East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico between 1975 and 2014—provides a more accurate and optimistic outlook than previous studies based on commercial fishery landings or surveys in a single location. Read the article here 11:00

Coast Guard rescues 2 fishermen when vessel gets stuck on north Mayport jetty

The Coast Guard rescued two boaters Monday after the boaters’ fishing vessel became stuck on the north Mayport jetties. Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center watch standers received a call via VHF channel 16 at 8:29 p.m. from the crew of a 73-foot fishing vessel Privateer stating their vessel was taking on water. The two crew members stated their anchor slipped and caused them to drift into the north Mayport jetties. Coast Guard Station Mayport launched two 29-foot Response Boat–Smalls at 8:36 p.m. The two crew members were rescued at 8:56 p.m. and taken to Station Mayport with no reported injuries.  Coast Guard investigators and pollution responders are en route. A good Samaritan in the area also responded and assisted the RB–S crews in locating the fishing vessel. USCG 07:53

A full weekend of events! Darien gears up for the 49th Blessing of the Fleet

This weekend marks the 49th Blessing of the Fleet in Darien, and the festivities that attendees have come to expect will be there in spades under this year’s theme of “Saltwater Blessings.” “The local community is excited and everyone that normally makes their vacation or homecoming plans, for those that like to plan visits home around the festival, everybody is extremely excited and anticipating the festival,” said Kelly McClellan, festival director. “It’s spring break for the kids, so everyone will be around, we’ve got a lot of student volunteers this year.” The festival kicks off at 5 p.m. this Friday with the opening of vendor booths and the car show. At 6 p.m., the Swinging Medallions start playing on the concert stage. The event closes at 10 p.m. continue reading about the schedule of events here 10:59

Commercial fishing vessel and recreation boat collide – Coast Guard assists 4 boaters near Port Canaveral

The Coast Guard assisted four boaters Sunday after a commercial fishing vessel and recreation boat collided 2 miles east of Port Canaveral. Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Command Center watch standers received a call from a members aboard the 48-foot fishing vessel Joyce Marie at 3:30 p.m. stating its outrigger and a 25-foot boat collided. A Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral 45-foot Response Boat –Medium crew launched to assist and embarked two adults and two children from the 25-foot boat after it became disabled. The boaters were taken to Jetty Park where EMS was waiting. Minor injuries were reported to an adult male. The cause of the collision is under investigation. USCG 19:09

Shark fins seized from shrimp boat off Key West

Florida wildlife officers made a grisly discovery aboard a Key West shrimp boat this week: dozens of pairs of dismembered shark fins. The boat was discovered about 20 miles north of the island Wednesday night, an indication illegal finning still occurs in Florida waters despite being banned more than 16 years ago. Buying and selling fins remains legal in most states, fueling a practice that targets some of the world’s biggest and longest-lived sharks, which are also among the planet’s oldest species. The boat was stopped by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, who alerted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service. FWC referred questions to NOAA, who declined to release details, saying it was too soon in the investigation. click here to read the story  07:49

SB-884: Florida lawmakers back bill setting big fines for ‘finning’ sharks

A Florida Senate panel approved legislation Wednesday to levy large fines on commercial fishermen caught carrying illegally harvested shark fins. Federal and state rules already ban finning – cutting off sharks’ fins and leaving the mutilated fish dying at sea. But there’s a legal market for fins, and in 2011 there were 96 tons of fins nationally that were shipped somewhere, either as imports or exports, according to a 2015 federal report. The bill, SB-884, approved by the appropriations subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee would require an automatic $5,000 administrative fine and a 180-day suspension of saltwater fishing licenses the first time a commercial shark fisherman is found with a severed fin. The fine would become $10,000 for a second offense and on the third time, the fisherman would be fined $10,000 and have his saltwater licenses permanently revoked. Read the story here, 14:42

How a Floating Bale of Cocaine Led to the Florida Keys’ Worst Murder in Decades

The Florida Keys are many things: a sun-bleached playground for the ultrarich, a blue-collar home to thousands of fishermen and hospitality workers, a rural chain of coral rock emerging just above the rising seas. There are ugly bar fights and plenty of drugs. But there’s hardly any gun violence. A young couple brutally executed a few feet from their young children? Never. Rosado and Ortiz’s mysterious killing on October 15, 2015, sent locals from Key Largo to Islamorada into a panic and left sheriff’s deputies scrambling. Detectives would follow a trail of violence and blackmail for months before divining its source: Jeremy Macauley, a fisherman with a troubled past who’d found a bale of pure cocaine floating in the turquoise sea. Months later, a prosecutor’s suicide and a surprise jailhouse interview would further muddy the tale. continue reading the story here 11:57

Sale and trade of shark fins to continue in Florida, and environmentalists are upset

Environmentalists sighed in disappointment after a Florida Senate bill banning the sale and trade of shark fins was amended last week, weakening its original intent. Originally proposed by Northeast Florida Senator Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, Senate Bill 884 would have thwarted the lucrative business of shark fin sales with strong language outlining the punishment and violations of the sale, trade or distribution of fins. “Eleven other states that had ports where this activity was taking place have already banned the sale and trade of shark fins,” said Erin Handy, campaign organizer for Oceana’s Climate & Energy Campaign in Florida. “Florida would have been the twelfth.” Handy speculates the state has been slow to implement rules against the sale and trade of shark fins due to the fishing industry. “There’s some opposition from the fishing industry saying the fins are the most valuable part and they should be able to sell them if they catch the shark and land it legally,” she said. That is called common sense! read the story here 08:49

Oversight Hearing on Examining the Creation and Management of Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries Wednesday, March 15, 2017 10:00 AM

Oversight Hearing on: “Examining the Creation and Management of Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries”  Click here to read the memo  Witnesses and Testimony: Dr. John Bruno Professor, Department of Biology University of North Carolina, Mr. Chett Chiasson Executive Director Greater Lafourche Port Commission,  Mr. Brian Hallman Executive Director American Tunaboat Association, The Honorable Jon Mitchell Mayor City of New Bedford Click here @ 10:00am and listen to the hearing. 19:05