Tag Archives: Gulf of Mexico

2 injured in oil platform fire in Gulf of Mexico

Two people were injured Wednesday morning (Nov. 8) in a fire on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell said. The remaining 46 workers were safely evacuated. A Shell spokesman said the fire happened at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday on its Enchilada platform at Garden Banks 128. Shell said it had identified the source of the fire and was “actively responding to the situation.” “An early morning U.S. Coast Guard overflight is complete and there were no signs of oil on the water at that time,” Shell said. click here to read the story 11:03

Drill, baby, drill in the eastern Gulf? Don’t even think about it

Only a lucky break kept oil from the historic BP spill in 2010 away from the Florida Keys and Southwest Florida’s beaches. Though the spill happened off the coast of Louisiana, so much oil gushed from the blowout that it reached the Loop Current, which is part of the Gulf Stream. Normally, the current would have brought the oil far enough to reach South Florida after blackening beaches in the Panhandle.  Yet oil lobbyists and Congress are firing again. Congressional Republicans want to open more of the Gulf of Mexico to drilling. President Trump, who favors more exploration for fossil fuels, is empowering them. click here to read the story 13:09

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

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

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

NIOSH regional reports highlight top dangers in commercial fishing industry

Vessel disasters and falls overboard are the primary hazards experienced by workers in commercial fishing – an industry with a fatality rate 29 times higher than the national average – according to a recent NIOSH analysis of four U.S. regions. NIOSH reviewed overall commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and the East and West Coasts from 2010 to 2014. Researchers found that 184 fatalities occurred in the four regions: Alaska recorded 45, the West Coast had 30, the East Coast reported 60 and the Gulf of Mexico experienced 49. Vessel disasters (capsizes, fires, groundings, sinking) accounted for the most deaths with 80, followed by falls overboard with 53. Other categories included onboard, onshore and diving. click here to read the story 23:24

Gulf dead zone bigger than ever, affecting shrimping

The Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone – an area starved of oxygen that cannot support life – has reached the largest size documented since mapping began 35 years ago, researchers maintain in a new report. The dimensions – this year the size of New Jersey – are of particular concern because they appear related to concerns expressed by shrimpers about their catch, particularly in Terrebonne Parish waters. “They may be catching some close to shore,” said Dr. Nancy Rabalais, the oceanographer who pioneered Gulf dead zone research and who compiled the most recent report on its effects. “But they are not going to get anything between Terrebonne Bay and 25 or 35 miles offshore.” That’s bad news, with the 2017 white shrimp season fast approaching. click here to read the story 14:49

Why Omega Protein has stirred up a big stink about a small fish

The disagreement between activists and Omega Protein depends on the answer to a simple question: Are there enough menhaden in the Gulf of Mexico? Omega says there are plenty, and it wants to keep it that way. Members of the Sierra Club Gulf Coast Group, the Coastal Conservation Association and other groups have their doubts.  It’s an argument recreational fishermen and conservationists have been having with Omega for years. Omega has a menhanden reduction plant in Moss Point and regularly fishes the Mississippi Sound. The opposition to its activities began anew with vigor earlier this year when Omega began seeking a “certified sustainable seafood” designation from the Marine Stewardship Council. MSC is a London-based nonprofit (although it collects royalties from licensing its “ecolabel”) that was set up in 1997 by the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever, a global conglomerate that was at the time one of the world’s largest producers of frozen seafood. click here to read the story 10:28

Legislative Bills would open red snapper harvest out to at least 25 miles

Louisiana senators and representatives have introduced companion legislation in Congress that would give states management authority of red snapper out to 25 miles or 25 fathoms, whichever is greater, off their coastlines. Currently, states control red snapper out to nine nautical miles. Both Louisiana senators, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, introduced the bill in the Senate, while Reps. Garret Graves, Cedric Richmond and Clay Higgins joined seven other representatives to propose the House bill. The legislation is designed to ensure Gulf of Mexico anglers have broader access to rebounding red snapper stocks during 2018 and beyond. This year, the Commerce Department gave recreational anglers 39 additional days in federal waters after NOAA Fisheries set a three-day recreational season. That move is being contested in court, and without legislation to address the issue, recreational anglers could be locked out of the fishery in 2018. click here to read the story 16:01

Navy War Games Planned for East Coast and Gulf Waters – Public comment is open until Aug. 29

The Navy intends to fire missiles, rockets, lasers, grenades and torpedoes, detonate mines and explosive buoys, and use all types of sonar in a series of live war exercises in inland and offshore waters along the East Coast. In New England, the areas where the weapons and sonar may be deployed encompass the entire coastline, as well as Navy pier-side locations, port transit channels, civilian ports, bays, harbors, airports and inland waterways. “The Navy must train the way we fight,” according to a promotional video for what is called “Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Phase III.” An environmental impact study of the war games was released June 30. Public comment is open until Aug. 29. A public hearing is scheduled for July 19 from 4-8 p.m. at Hotel Providence. Comments can be submitted online and in writing, or through a voice recorder at the hearing. The dates and exact locations of the live weapon and sonar exercises haven’t yet been released. In all, 2.6 million square miles of land and sea along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico will be part of the aerial and underwater weapons firing. click here to read the story 18:41

Department of Commerce Announces Changes to the 2017 Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Private Angler Recreational Season

For the first time in a decade, Federal authorities and the five Gulf States have agreed to align Federal and State private angler red snapper fishing seasons for the remainder of the summer, and the Department of Commerce has re-opened the 2017 private angler recreational season for 39 weekend days and holidays.  Majority Whip Scalise and other Members of Congress were instrumental in reaching this agreement. The agreement reached between the Secretary of Commerce and the five Gulf States is a significant step forward in building a new Federal-State partnership in managing the Gulf of Mexico red snapper stock.The Departments rule does not change the quota or season length for the federally permitted for-hire component of the recreational fishery or the commercial individual fishing quota program and the 2017 commercial quota.  Click here to read the press release 18:13

Economic Contribution of White Shrimp Commercial Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico States

The annual commercial landing values of wild American white shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico Region in 2015 reached $153.7 million, which is about 75.3% of the average annual landing values during the last five years. The total economic contribution of commercial shrimping in 2015 amounted to $291.7 million (Figure 1). Commercial shrimping created 4,114 jobs and generated labor income amounting to $104.1 million in the Gulf regional economy.  The white shrimp commercial fishing industry generates annual tax revenues for the Gulf States and the U.S. federal government. A total of $17.8 million were estimated to have been paid by households and businesses in 2015 to the federal government as social insurance tax, tax on production and imports, corporate profit tax, and personal income tax.  The Gulf States were expected to have collected taxes from households and businesses in 2015 amounting to $8.7 million as social insurance tax, tax on production and imports, corporate profits tax, and personal tax. Click here to read the story 12:16

What goes in the water in Wisconsin comes out in the Gulf of Mexico

A group of farmers in southwestern Wisconsin’s Driftless Area has become acutely aware that what gets into the watershed here can wind up hundreds of miles away.  These farmers use conservation practices to keep nutrients on their land and out of lakes and streams.  Margaret Krome, policy program director at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, says nutrients that get into the water here follow a direct path down the Mississippi River. “Those nutrients go shooshing right out into the Gulf of Mexico and create a zone with such high nutrients that they end up with a big algal bloom, and that sucks all the oxygen out of the water and kills other organisms,” she explains. “So it’s a dead zone because fishermen can’t fish there.” The Wisconsin farmers have developed a relationship with Gulf fishermen, who are appreciative of the farmers’ efforts to help improve fishing conditions in the Gulf. click here to read the story 10:52

Mystery shrouds the death of a Tarpon Springs fishing captain

It began as a fishing trip like any other. Gregory Lasnier stocked the commercial fishing boat he captained with ice, bait and groceries. He waited for a deckhand who never showed. A friend hugged him goodbye. On Feb. 16, he set off alone, leaving his dock behind Holiday Seafood off Island Drive and steering the Daniel I into to the Gulf of Mexico as he had so many times before. It was a fishing trip like any other, until it wasn’t. The Coast Guard found Lasnier dead in the boat’s pilot house Feb. 26, on the other side of the Florida peninsula, hundreds of miles from any of his normal fishing spots. What happened on board the Daniel I during those 10 days remains a mystery. There is no body. There is no autopsy. There is no boat. Coast Guard responders said they couldn’t recover any of it. The boat was taking on water, and conditions were unsafe. They believe the Daniel I sunk off the coast of Sebastian Inlet south of Melbourne, although even that part of the story is unclear. But one thing is certain: The sea became his graveyard, the boat his casket. click here to read the story 11:29

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

Fire extinguished on Renaissance Offshore LLC oil production platform in the Gulf, no sign of pollution

A fire broke out on an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico early Thursday (Jan. 5), forcing four workers to evacuate by lifeboat before the blaze was extinguished. There were no injuries and inspectors found no sign of pollution, authorities said. The blaze was reported about 2:30 a.m. on a platform about 80 miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana, and was extinguished nearly four hours later, the Coast Guard said in a statement. The four workers were rescued by the crew of the 130-foot Mary Wyatt Milano, a supply vessel, the Coast Guard said. They were flown to a hospital in Houma to be evaluated, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in a statement. Read the story here 11:05

BREAKING! Fire Burns on Oil Platform in Gulf of Mexico

The Coast Guard says it’s responding to a fire on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. A Coast Guard news release says the fire was reported around 2:30 a.m. Thursday on an oil platform about 80 miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana. The Coast Guard says four people aboard the platform evacuated and were rescued by a supply vessel. No injuries have been reported. Four vessels are fighting the fire and the cause is under investigation. Updated click here  07:04

Thousands of Invisible Oil Spills Are Destroying The Gulf

Hurricane Ivan would not die. After traveling across the Atlantic Ocean, it stewed for more than a week in the Caribbean, fluctuating between a Category 3 and 5 storm while battering Jamaica, Cuba, and other vulnerable islands. And as it approached the US Gulf Coast, it stirred up a massive mud slide on the sea floor. The mudslide created leaks in 25 undersea oil wells, snarled the pipelines leading from the wells to a nearby oil platform, and brought the platform down on top of all of it. And a bunch of the mess—owned by Taylor Energy—is still down there, covered by tons of silty sediment. Also, twelve years later, the mess is still leaking. The Taylor Energy site will continue to leak for the next century,,, While the Taylor Energy spill is the worst case scenario, it’s not the US’s only low-profile leaker. Read the story here 12:57

Tiger Shark Caught 10 Years To the Day After Being Tagged

Fishermen sometimes think they can tell when a fish they’ve hooked has been caught before. Maybe it fights harder, or tries every trick in the book to shake the hook loose, but it’s hard to know for sure. Except when surf fisherman Zach Wolk reeled in an 11-foot, 5-inch female tiger shark at Cape San Blas in northwestern Florida back in October; he knew for sure because of the embedded tag. What he didn’t know, until later, was that he’d caught the tiger shark 10 years to the day that it was first tagged in the Gulf of Mexico – Oct. 25, 2006. The information came courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Wolk jotted down the shark’s tag number, and, after taking a few photos for posterity and releasing the creature back into the Gulf, sent the info off to NOAA. Photos, read the rest here 09:47

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

The $100 Million U.S. Government Fish Farm Nobody Wants

NOAA ScientistIf someone offered you a chance to invest millions of dollars in a business nobody wants, would you take it? If you’re the U.S. government, the answer is a resounding yes. Since 2007, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—despite major political, social, and environmental headwinds—has poured almost $100 million (PDF) into aquaculture, also known by the more pedestrian moniker of fish farming. Currently, American aquaculture is done only in state waters within a few miles of the coast. (Think farmed salmon.) But the government is trying to go further out to sea, into federal waters, to create an offshore aquaculture industry. After NOAA, under both presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush tried—and failed—to push national aquaculture legislation through Congress, NOAA decided to do an end run around Capitol Hill, creating a controversial aquaculture permitting system in the Gulf of Mexico that promptly drew litigation as well as the ire of fishermen, boaters, and environmentalists. Read the story here 08:33

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

Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted bluefin tuna spawning habitat in Gulf of Mexico

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was one of the largest environmental disasters in history, releasing roughly 4 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. For Atlantic bluefin tuna, it occurred at the worst time of year, during peak spawning season, when eggs and larval fish that are particularly vulnerable to environmental stressors exist in mass quantity. In a study (click here)published in Nature: Scientific Reports, scientists from Stanford and NOAA provide the best yet analysis of how the 2010 breeding season might have been impacted by the oil spill. Although the spill encompassed a relatively small proportion of the bluefin tuna spawning grounds, which extend throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico, the authors showed the cumulative oiled tuna habitat was roughly 3.1 million square miles, representing the potential for a significant impact on eggs and larval bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico. Read the story here 13:43

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

Rio History: Stingrays and Giant Mantas of the Gulf of Mexico

Yes, there are stingrays along the beaches of Padre Island …and yes, people do get stuck by them.  Stingrays are actually a specialized branch-off of early sharks. They will eat almost anything they can catch, including clams, crabs and shrimp. The females are the largest, sometimes measuring six feet wide when fully mature. They are generally docile sea animals often found lying on the bottom in shallow water where they blend extremely well with their surroundings. And this is where they are most dangerous to fishermen and swimmer for they can be easily provoked if accidentally stepped on.  Serrated spines and a poison gland, located near the base of the tail, can inflict a painful wound. The venom is a fairly potent nerve toxin that affects the heart and there are recorded cases of victims suffering a heart attack when stung in the chest area. According to the official autopsy, naturalist Steve Irwin’s death was caused by the trauma of the barb piercing his heart and he probably died before experiencing any effect of the ray’s poisonous venom. Does this mean all ray victims will die? No. In fact most people recover with few or any side effects. Read the rest here 18:34

Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance fights NOAA over aqua farms

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)  decision to approve industrial offshore fish farming last month in federally protected waters in the Gulf of Mexico is a strong concern in a “delicate and restricted estuarine system,” according to a leading non-profit fisherman’s organization. Eric Brazer, deputy director at the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, told the Louisiana Record that there are strong concerns with constructing an aquaculture facility of unprecedented size. The suit alleges that in a bid to push offshore fish farming forward without a new law permitting it, and get around Congress, NOAA created a permitting scheme through the Gulf Council by exceeding its authority to regulate fishing under the MSA. Read the rest here 09:44

Two classes of fishermen: Kings and Serfs

csf logoWhen you hear of fishermen being divided by the government into two classes — “kings” and “serfs” — you would think it would be from medieval times or some scheme hatched under a third-world dictatorship. But no, this is happening in the Gulf of Mexico (and other fishery’s, nationwide) right now with the commercial red snapper catch share program as documented by an investigative report by AL.com published this week. The report states that the catch share program “has turned dozens of Gulf of Mexico fishermen into the lords of the sea — able to earn millions annually without even going fishing — Read the post here  09:41

NMFS – Gulf of Mexico rule opens the door for seafood farming in the open ocean

Plenty of feel good NOAA propaganda! – NOAA filed a final rule today implementing the nation’s first comprehensive regulatory program for aquaculture in federal waters. The groundbreaking rule creates a coordinated permitting system for the Gulf of Mexico, opening the door for the region to expand seafood production and create new jobs in an environmentally sustainable manner. “As demand for seafood continues to rise, aquaculture presents a tremendous opportunity not only to meet this demand, but also to increase opportunities for the seafood industry and job creation,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator.  Read the rest here 13:30

Earthjustice files Oceana Lawsuit Against Federal Government to Save Dusky Sharks in Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic

earthjustice $upereco-manIn the lawsuit filed today, Oceana claims the National Marine Fisheries Service violated the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary law governing federal fisheries, by failing to end the overfishing of dusky sharks. Oceana also claims the federal government failed to establish an annual catch limit and measures to enforce such a limit as well as failed to revise dusky shark management measures once it became apparent that the current measures were not rebuilding the population to healthy levels, as required by law. Read the rest here 17:54

Fish, shellfish recovered from Katrina faster than fishermen

As Hurricane Katrina lashed everything above ground, it also caused problems for seafood in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. With the exception of oysters, seafood does OK during hurricanes,” Caffey said. “The sediment can smother an oyster bed and cause short-term losses. Long term, fishermen don’t do well.” That’s because fishermen rely on boats, processing plants and docks that get walloped by the hurricanes, and that leaves livelihoods in danger. Read the rest here 17:06