Tag Archives: Hurricane Irma

Stone crab season in SWFL

Stone Crab season is in its fifth week, and crabbers say the beginning was a bit rough. Frank Rogues is a master crab catcher for Pinchers restaurants and said typically, 400 pounds of stone claw crab is the yield from a successful day, however, this year that number was reduced to about 100 pounds for the first few weeks the season. “You go out there and you spend a lot of money to set up a gear,” Rogues said, “which is quite expensive to do that, and you do that, and you’re not even making fuel money. That’s pretty tough.” click here to read the story 18:17

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

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

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

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

Florida Keys seafood industry begins gear recovery after Hurricane Irma

To find the lobster, Florida Keys commercial fishers must first track down gear scattered or destroyed by Hurricane Irma. “Just like on shore, the underwater has patterns of destruction,” Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, said Thursday. “Some areas have suffered major devastation, really hard hit,” he said. “Other areas are not so bad.” One large Middle Keys family operation estimates having lost 6,000 traps, Kelly said. click here to read the story 11:00

Hurricane Irma: “The fishing industry in the Keys is frozen, paralyzed. We’re literally in a state of shock,”

Marooned on no-name sandbars among the mangroves in the Florida Keys are acres of broken lobster traps and the crumbled livelihoods of Florida fishermen. More than two weeks after Hurricane Irma, the Keys’ $150 million commercial fishing and trapping industry is at a standstill. And the result could affect every link in the chain, from the fisherman to the restaurant and grocery store consumer. If you find Florida spiny lobster at your local market, it will undoubtedly be frozen. “The fishing industry in the Keys is frozen, paralyzed. We’re literally in a state of shock,”, click here to read the story 07:37

Riding out Hurricane Irma – A reprieve in Dry Tortugas

Richie Stiglitz is having a sleepover on Key Colony Beach, grilling for his crew and friends six days post-Irma, telling stories of the past week. His story is a little different from most. He, with a fleet of nine commercial Marathon boats, rode the storm out 60 miles offshore in the Dry Tortugas. His home, on Cudjoe Key, was destroyed in the storm. “At first the storm was looking like it was going up the east coast of Florida,” said Stiglitz, boat owner and commercial fisherman. “We were on the seat of our pants for a little bit.” The crew included Marathon residents Justin Bruland with first mate Riley Young, and Raymond Bruland with grandson Jayden, 14, Randolf and Cole Daniels, Ray Salidino, Justin Woodward, and Stiglitz’s sons Deme and Peder, who, at 16 years old, each captained their own boats on the way down. click here to read the story 20:26

Gov. Scott Directs FWC to Ease Reg’s, Waive Fees for South Florida Commercial Fishing Industry Following Hurricane Irma

Governor Rick Scott directed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to implement several changes to help South Florida’s commercial fishermen recover from the effects of Hurricane Irma and get back to work. The elimination of these regulations combined with the waiving of fees will allow more commercial fishermen in South Florida, especially the Florida Keys, get back to work by easing certain tag requirements and allowing more cooperation in the industry. The Governor has been laser focused on ensuring that the entire state recovers from Hurricane Irma, as well as the Florida Keys, which was one of the hardest hit areas. The Governor has set a goal of October 1st to have the Keys open for business. click here to read press release 18:31

Trap fishermen, industry suffers record loses from Irma

Conch Key commercial fisherman Gary Nichols scoured the Atlantic Ocean for seven hours on Monday and only found 15 of his 5,000 spiny lobster traps. Fellow Conch Key fishermen Jeff Kramer was only able to locate a handful of his 2,000 traps he had placed in the Atlantic. Both are hoping that ones in the Gulf of Mexico fared better. Nichols’ daughter Kelly Cordova Nichols was able to locate 160 of the family’s 1,500 traps in the bay. Nichols and his daughter are also working with two boats that were damaged by Hurricane Irma and are “not properly operating.” “I feel a little bit defeated,” Nichols said. “It’s hard to keep focused and have a firm belief in God and happiness right now. click here to read the story 16:05

Georgia: Longtime St. Marys dock owner ready to rebuild

At 91 years old, it would be easy for Calvin Lang to throw up his hands and decide not to rebuild the businesses he has operated in downtown St. Marys more than five decades. Hurricane Irma destroyed his east and west marina docks sunk the Cumberland Queen, one of the boats used to ferry passengers to Cumberland Island National Seashore. The storm also ripped more than half the roof from his seafood processing building where he has hundreds of pounds of shrimp in freezers he hadn’t opened Friday afternoon. click here to read the story 10:20

Shrimp boat captain stranded during Irma rescued by Carnival cruise ship

A shrimp boat captain who was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Irma is back at home after he was rescued by a cruise ship. Edward Potter arrived Wednesday at Tampa International Airport, embracing family members who feared they would never see him again. Potter and first mate Carl Sheperd were caught in the storm in a 75-foot fishing boat based out of Tarpon Springs. “They were getting water in the engine room and Edward was working on the engine room, and we talked to Carl on the phone and then we couldn’t get in touch with him anymore,” friend Rick Shalansky said. Video, click here to read the story 11:51

Tarpon Springs boat captain returns after fateful encounter with Irma

The captain had few words to say after he got off the airplane, but most of them were about his former deckhand. “Carl Sheperd was the best man, best friend,” Capt. Edward Potter said. “I can’t say anything more … but I love that man.” It was just weeks before that the men had set off on Potter’s shrimp boat, the Capt. Eddie, from Pelican Point Seafood in Tarpon Springs for a shrimping trip to the Florida Keys. About a week into their journey, Hurricane Irma developed and came barreling west toward the Florida Straits. Potter, 61, on just the start of what is typically a 30- to 40-day excursion, thought they could outrun it. But the storm caught up with them, pummeling the boat, the two men on board and their feline passenger, Motorboat. Only Potter made it back alive. click here to read the story 23:16

Mayport shrimpers rode out storm on board their vessels in Jacksonville

Sixty-year-old Charles Long road out the storm with other shrimp fisherman and a lone grouper fisherman who moored about 20 boats in the St. John’s River near the Maxwell House building in downtown Jacksonville. Long, who told his girlfriend of 25 years that fishing comes before ladies — and everything — said weathering the storm on the 75-foot boat named “Judge” was a breeze. “Just another storm,” said the man who has been hauling in shrimp for 42 years. “We fared good. It all worked out. “ If history repeats itself as it has for the past four decades, it should work out very well for Long. He said after a good storm, shrimping is great. click here to read the story 18:23

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina Reeling After Irma’s Historic Assault; Navy Dispatches Ships, Aircraft Carrier to the Keys

An aircraft carrier has been dispatched to the Florida Keys to help with relief efforts as Irma after its historic assault on Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, killing at least nine people. Five deaths have been attributed to the storm in Florida, including two deaths in Hardee County, one death Orange County, one in St. Johns County and one in Winter Park. Deaths were also reported in Georgia’s Worth and Forsyth counties and the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. click here to read the story 09:59

Canadian power crews head to Irma-hit Florida to help restore service – Dozens of Canadian power crews are heading to Florida to help restore power to millions of people affected by Hurricane Irma. click here to read the story

On Hurricane Bay, a Florida fisherman tries to ride out the storm

As the winds started to roar in Hurricane Bay, P.J. Pike jumped from a high dock down to his fishing boat and began lashing ropes to the mast. The lines extended to anything solid nearby – dock posts, a palm tree, the Captain Tony’s Fishing Adventures sign – to anchor what would soon be his shelter for Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the Florida coastline. “I’ve been here since ’93, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he shouted with a hoarse voice into a driving rain.   click here to read the story 11:29

Hurricane Irma blasts Florida: ‘Monster’ storm charges up coast after hitting Miami and Tampa

5.8 million without power as Hurricane Irma tracks coast – Storm kills at least four in Florida after 38 dead in Caribbean – 10,000 could have stayed in Keys to ride out hurricane – After Tampa, Irma heads to southern Georgia and South Carolina – Hurricane weakens to tropical storm, but surge threat remains – Stranded Britons told French planes can’t take ‘UK refugees’ – Richard Branson shares video of devastation on Necker island – Island by island: How Irma brought havoc to paradise click here to read the story, live updates.

Hurricane Irma – Public Advisory – 1100 PM EDT Sun Sep 10 2017

At 1100 PM EDT (0300 UTC), the center of Hurricane Irma was located by NOAA Doppler radar near latitude 27.5 North, longitude 81.9 West. Irma is moving toward the north near 14 mph (22 km/h). A turn toward the north-northwest and then northwest at a faster forward speed is expected during the next day or so. On the forecast track, the center of Irma will continue to move over the western Florida peninsula through Monday morning and then into the southeastern United States late Monday and Tuesday. click here to read the update 23:34

Coast Guard urges mariners to contact watchstanders by phone during VHF outages

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard requests mariners in life-threatening situations along Florida’s Gulf Coast contact Coast Guard watchstanders by phone during the absence or degradation of VHF radio communications caused by Hurricane Irma. Mariners unable to reach the Coast Guard by VHF radio should use contact Sector St. Petersburg Command Center at 727-896-6187 or 727-896-6188 until radio signals improve or are restored. -USCG- 23:17

Hurricane Irma – Massive airborne relief mission en route to Keys to help with ‘humanitarian crisis’

A huge airborne relief mission is en route to the Keys to help people impacted by the devastation caused when the eye of Hurricane Irma blasted through the Lower Florida Keys at daybreak Sunday morning. Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt called the destruction caused by Irma, a massive Category 4 storm when it impacted the Keys, a “humanitarian crisis.” Among the services coming to the Keys are “disaster mortuary teams,” he said during a conference call.  Supplies and personnel could be coming in by air to Monroe County by early Monday morning, Senterfitt said. click here to read the story 17:52

Hurricane Irma Makes Landfall on Marco Island

3:45 p.m. Hurricane Irma has made landfall on Marco Island, Florida, as a Category 3 hurricane. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Irma’s powerful eye roared ashore at Marco Island just south of Naples with 115-mph (185-kph) winds, for a second U.S. landfall at 3:35 p.m. Sunday. Category 3 storms have winds from 111 to 129 mph, but 130-mph (21-kph) wind gust was recently reported by the Marco Island Police Department. Irma’s second U.S. landfall was tied for the 21st strongest landfall in the U.S. based on central pressure. Irma’s first U.S. landfall in the Florida Keys was tied for 7th. click here to read the story 16:23

Hurricane Irma activates Jacksonville’s riverfront

Seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma, the First Coast shrimping and fishing fleet brings a little nostalgia back to the days when downtown Jacksonville was known as being an active working waterfront. In a strange twist of fate, the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma and the long abandoned piers of the defunct Jacksonville Shipyards have resulted in a bit of authentic Jacksonville returning to its historic downtown waterfront. Massive concrete piers built to complement the largest drydocks between Newport News and New Orleans, have become a key player in protecting the First Coast’s shrimping and fishing fleet from Hurricane Irma. click here to read the story 14:16

Hurricane Irma – Public Advisory – 1100 AM EDT Sun Sep 10 2017

At 1100 AM EDT (1500 UTC), the center of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 25.0 North, longitude 81.5 West. Irma is moving toward the north near 9 mph (15 km/h, and a north northwestward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected later today, with that motion continuing through Monday. On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should move over the Lower Florida Keys shortly, and then move near or over the west coast of the Florida Peninsula later today through tonight. Irma should then move inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia Monday afternoon. click here to read the update. 11:10

Hurricane Irma – Public Advisory – 1100 PM EDT Sat Sep 09 2017

At 1100 PM EDT (0300 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 23.5 North, longitude 81.0 West. Irma is moving slowly northwestward away from the north coast of Cuba near 6 mph (9 km/h). A turn toward the north-northwest with an increase in forward speed is expected through late Monday. On the forecast track, the center of Irma is expected to cross the Lower Florida Keys Sunday morning and then move near or along the west coast of Florida Sunday afternoon through Monday morning. Irma should then move inland over the Florida panhandle and southwestern Georgia Monday afternoon. click here to read the update 23:05

US Waives Jones Act to Secure Fuel for Hurricane Responders

The U.S. government on Friday said it was temporarily waiving a law that limits the availability of cargoes on the U.S. coasts, a step that will ensure enough fuel reaches emergency responders during Hurricane Irma and in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Jones Act mandates the use of U.S.-flagged vessels to transport merchandise between U.S. coasts. The Department of Homeland Security waived the requirement for one week. This will allow oil and gas operators to use often cheaper, tax-free, or more readily available foreign-flagged vessels. click here to read the story 10:03

Hurricane Irma Public Advisory – 0:800 UPDATE from the National Hurricane Center

At 800 AM EDT (1200 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Irma was located by a reconnaissance plane and Cuban radars near latitude 22.6 North, longitude 79.5 West. Irma is moving toward the west near 12 mph (19 km/h), along the north coast of Cuba. A northwest motion is expected to begin later today with a turn toward the north-northwest tonight or on Sunday. On the forecast track, the core of Irma will continue to move near or over the north coast of Cuba this morning, and will reach the Florida Keys Sunday morning. The hurricane is expected to be near the southwest coast of Florida Sunday afternoon. click here to read the update AMX Radar NWS Forecast Office Miami – South Florida click here 08:23

Friends Awaiting Word from Missing Lobster Fishermen

Some lobster fishermen haven’t been heard from in several hours after trying to move traps out of the path Hurricane Irma. According to fellow commercial fisherman, Mike Henry, three or four fishermen had picked up lobster traps and were moving them closer to the Dry Tortugas, about 70 miles west of Key West, where the water is deeper. “They were trying to get them out of the way of the storm and put them out there,” Henry said. The men haven’t been heard from since 10:30 pm Friday night. click here to read the story 07:55

Mayport fishing vessels scramble for docks in Jacksonville in advance of Hurricane Irma

The entire First Coast shrimping and fishing fleet is in the process of moving away from the coast and into a safer docking space in downtown Jacksonville as Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida. While the storm is still churning in the Caribbean, about two dozen shrimp vessels from the Jacksonville area have retracted their nets and are leaving their usual port of Mayport. That’s where Safe Harbor Seafood is the main warehouse and wholesaler of the local catch operates. Gerald Pack, owner of Safe Harbor, said Thursday that shrimp boats and other fishing vessels, usually docked at the historic village about a mile from the mouth of the St. Johns River, have mostly headed to the old Shipyards docks that are girded with concrete near Metropolitan Park. click here to read the story 09:00