Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Offshore wind lobby warns of bill’s ‘existential threat’

One of the nation’s largest renewable energy trade groups warned in a letter to Senate leadership this week that a House-approved bill could endanger virtually every planned offshore wind project in the country. Sent Wednesday by the American Clean Power Association, the letter took aim at a provision of the “Don Young Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022,” which cleared the House by a wide margin in March and has yet to be considered by the Senate. The bill’s provision would establish nationality requirements for crew members who work on offshore energy projects in the United States. Crew members would have to be American citizens or permanent residents or citizens of the same country where their vessel is flagged. >click to read< 08:10

‘Who’s setting the prices?’ – Shrimpers are losing money, even as food gets more expensive

In Louisiana, the price of everything is going up, especially if you’re a shrimper. But the one thing that’s cheaper than ever is the shrimp they’re catching. “You can barely make it with the price of ice at $22 a block and fuel at almost $5 a gallon,” Michael Lobue Sr., a Barataria shrimper, said. “You can’t make it.” Shrimper Lanvin LeBlanc has been shrimping his whole life. It’s a family business that’s been good to him for decades, but he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll last if prices keep dropping. “We’re trying to figure out who’s setting the prices. I don’t think anyone can find out,” he said. “We need help.” Video, >click to watch/read< 10:23

High fuel prices, cheap shrimp cripple Louisiana’s shrimping industry, still recovering from Ida

Nearly a year later, the residents there and other fishing villages along the coast have yet to fully recover. Record high fuel costs and low shrimp prices are making that recovery even more difficult. Darrell Domangue, 56, has been living in Cocodrie all his life and shrimping is all he has ever known. However, with shrimp going for 75 cents to $1 per pound and the cost of fuel increasing, he wonders if he will be able to pay back the $105,000 he borrowed to buy a new boat. The average price per gallon for diesel in Louisiana is now at $5.37, up from $2.91 a year ago, AAA data shows. 18 photos, >click to read< 08:50

Florida Keys fishermen arrested on animal cruelty charges

Two commercial fishermen in the Florida Keys were arrested on felony charges after PETA released a video appearing to show the abuse of two animals. The video was initially posted as part of a PETA Investigates campaign against the consumption of stone crab claws. The person who captured the video expressed interest to the crew in learning about the stone crab industry, Goodman said. The intended focus was not on bycatch, yet she was able to openly record and capture footage of the crew members’ alleged misconduct. “The crew welcomed her aboard,” he said. “It was just somebody expressing interest in learning about the industry. It really just goes to show you how this disturbing misconduct is likely so common, that people knowing they’re filmed still would not hesitate to engage in this awful mutilation and abuse.” >click to read< 11:44

A Double Whammy: Louisiana shrimpers face high diesel prices, cheap imports

Record high diesel prices and competition from cheap, imported shrimp are hitting Louisiana shrimpers in the wallet and driving some of them out of business. Acy Cooper Jr. is a shrimper in Plaquemines Parish and the president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association. “Here in Louisiana, you can make a little bit of a living if you catch a few shrimp. We’re in between seasons now and once the shrimp starts slowing up, you can’t continue working at that price. A lot of folks are going to try to keep working, but once they see they can’t overcome it,” Cooper said of high fuel prices, “they’re going to shut down.”>click to read the article< 18:54

Delcambre shrimp processor overcoming old and new problems to survive

Gulf Crown Seafood’s Jeff Floyd and his son Jon agree that every year in the seafood business is unique. Each year new problems arise and are added to the same old ones continuously sticking around. Last year new problems arising from Covid and Hurricane Ida were added to the old ones; H2B visiting worker visa, labor shortages, import prices and product availability. “We weren’t affected directly by Hurricane Ida,” said the senior of the Floyds. “But without production this plant doesn’t survive. They only way we get production is with the boats. I don’t know exactly how many we lost out of the fleet from the storm, but talking to those at the docks their were a lot a fisherman whose boats won’t be able to be salvaged.” Gulf Crown Seafood in Delcambre is one of approximately seven shrimp processors left Louisiana. >click to read< 12:58

F/V Miss Key West bringing shrimp industry back to Key West harbor

It was once a significant part of Key West’s economy, but due to numerous economic forces, the last of the shrimping vessels in the harbor left around 30 years ago, according to Dan Smith. But as of a few weeks ago, Smith and James Phelps have brought the first commercial shrimp vessel back to the Key West Harbor since that time. It now sits in the same place where the Schooner Western Union, the flagship of Florida, once was next to Schooner Wharf bar. On Monday, the two owners stood on the docks next to the Miss Key West, along with their captain, Mark Thomson, and some relatives. Phelps and Smith came up with the idea to bring a shrimp vessel back to Key West, both their families were historically part of the fishing and shrimping industry in Key West. Photos, >click to read< 07:50

Video: U.S. Coast Guard medevacs crewmember from fishing vessel near Morgan City, La.

The Coast Guard medevaced a crewmember Monday from a commercial fishing vessel 21 miles offshore Morgan City, Louisiana. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans watchstanders received a notification at 7:46 p.m. from the commercial fishing vessel F/V GP Amelia of a crewmember suffering from abdominal pain. Watchstanders diverted a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew to assist. The helicopter crew arrived on scene, hoisted the crewmember, and transferred them to University Medical Center in New Orleans. The crewmember was last reported to be in stable condition. >click for video< 18:25

Barataria Crabber isn’t Giving Up

A large majority of Louisiana’s crabs comes from the waters of the Barataria Estuary, situated between the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche. Scott Sugasti has been on those waters working his traps since an early age, and as one of the younger crabbers on the bayou he knows hard work is the key to success. Since Hurricane Ida he has had to work harder at avoiding numerous pitfalls the storm has caused for local fishermen. Now 23, he started crabbing on his own at the age of 13, never afraid to be alone on the water. While in high school he would get up at the crack of dawn and head out in his boat. ‘I used to go before and after school. I would wake up at three in the morning all the time and head out to run my traps.’ Over the years he has started and stopped a number of times, but it became his daily occupation when he bought his first boat from his grandfather, Jimmy Matherne, two years ago. Photos, >click to read<13:21

One fish, two fish: The local commercial fishing industry faces daunting challenges despite high demand

It’s just after noon on an unseasonably warm Friday in early spring. Naples has had a string of cold days and now this hot one, but no one standing in line in front of Mike’s Bait House in East Naples seems to mind. The line extends from the street, where cars are parked nose-to-bumper. It snakes through the parking lot and winds beside a black extended-cab Chevy. In the back of the truck, two young men from Dilly’s Fish Co, owned by Tim “Dilly” Dillingham, lean over Grizzly coolers. “What’s the difference between a lane snapper and a red snapper?” a man in line calls out. “A red snapper’s going to be a little more firm,” one of the young men in the back of the truck answers. That’s Dominick Biagetti, Dillingham’s right-hand man. Biagetti serves as boat captain and crew, and he helps with offloading and delivery. He has a seascape tattooed on his leg, an underwater reef scene with a turtle and a moray eel. >click to read< 12:10

Dog swims for several miles, finds way home after falling overboard of shrimp boat

Shrimp Boat Captain Keith “Kiwi” Soffes says his pup, Monster, never leaves his side. Monster even tags along on his shrimp boat for the daily runs out of San Leon, Texas. Last week, the loyal dog fell overboard while they were out in Galveston Bay. Soffes says he didn’t notice until they were already five miles out. He was beyond shocked and heartbroken. Video, >click to read< 11:31

One rescued from shrimp boat fire near Fort Pike State Historic Site

A shrimp boat burst into flames Thursday morning near Fort Pike State Historic Site in New Orleans. One person was rescued from the boat. Kirk Jacobs with the Fort Pike Volunteer Fire Department said the person rescued was the only one on the boat. The Coast Guard also responded to the fire. This is a developing story. Video, >click to watch< 09:37

Omega Protein boat rescues six from capsized boat in Mississippi Sound

A group of boaters who were stranded in the Mississippi Sound are thankful to be alive. Around 2 p.m. Tuesday, a crew of fishermen with Omega Protein rescued six people, including two children, from a small boat that had capsized. Capt. Joel Deihl said he got a distress call from the Coast Guard asking for help. After his two fishing boats located the capsized vessel, they pulled two people from the water and another four from the overturned boat. Video, >click to read< 10:16

Could an obscure provision of a Coast Guard bill threaten offshore wind farms?

A bill that passed the House of Representatives in late March and is currently under consideration in the Senate could “cripple the development of the American offshore wind industry,” according to the industry’s trade association. President Biden has set an ambitious goal of 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind electricity generation capacity by 2030, up from just 42 megawatts currently. But an amendment to the annual Coast Guard authorization bill that would require foreign-flagged ships installing wind turbines on the Outer Continental Shelf only if they have a U.S. crew or the crew of the nation from which the vessel is flagged. The intention is to protect U.S. workers from unfair competition from foreign vessels using lower cost labor from developing countries,,, >click to read< 09:06

Alabama: Gulf Coast Shrimp Season Opens June 1st

June 1 will begin like any other day for Alabama’s shrimp, until the boats start chugging and the nets start dropping. On that day, all bets are off if you’re a shrimp. The Marine Resources Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced (last) Monday that all inside waters not permanently closed by law or regulation will be open for shrimp fishing beginning June 1. Shrimp swimming in Mobile Bay, Bon Secour Bay, Mississippi Sound, Perdido Bay, Arnica Bay, Wolf Bay and Little Lagoon will be up for grabs on that day through the end of the year. >click to read< 15:44

Mississippi: 93rd Annual Blessing of the Fleet welcomes the new shrimp season

Boats lined up alongside Deer Island celebrating the 93rd Annual Blessing of the Fleet. The annual blessing which promotes a successful and safe fishing season is a tradition in Biloxi. Michael Kovacevich remembers attending the ceremony as a young boy. “My family came from Croatia to Biloxi and like hundreds of others to work the seafood, so you know just about everybody in Biloxi can tie their past to seafood,” Kovacevich said. This year, the Shrimp King and Queen were on the blessing boat. King Joseph Powell said riding on the blessing boat brought him old memories of when he was a fisher. “It brings back old memories of the Mid 50′s when I was a shrimper and being on the boat. >click to read< 09:40

Reallocation: coming to a dock near you?

Ever since quota transfers in “shared fisheries” have been made so easy to justify (see the Massachusetts justification for the recent reallocation of fluke, bluefish and black sea bass at https://tinyurl.com/yckkr6vm), such transfers each year are going to cost us hundreds of tons of product and tens of millions of dollars of business. And as long as one-third of the voting members of the eight regional fishery management councils and three commissions either work for or run the state agencies that are funded in very large part by Wallop-Breaux revenues (see my most recent piece on Wallop-Breaux funding at https://fisherynation.com/wallop-breaux-funding-the-rest-of-the-story), without a major campaign to make the quota setting system more fair to commercial fishermen, the businesses that depend on them, and the seafood consumers they should be supplying, I don’t see that changing. >click here to read the article by Nils Stople< 14:02

Sea Hunt! Sub proposed for war on lionfish

Two marine enthusiasts are taking lionfish hunting to a whole new level, and depth as they are working on outfitting a submarine to wage war on one of Florida’s most-wanted invasive species. Scott Gonnello and Scott Cassell have begun plans to outfit a one-person Kittredge K-250 submarine into an underwater lionfish hunting machine and plan to bring the sub to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo for World Oceans Day on Wednesday, June 8. The sub was first welded together in the 1970s but was rotting away in a backyard in Cassell’s home state of California until he obtained it 1991. Cassell has since logged more than 15,000 hours under sea in it, he said. >click to read< 10:33

Coast Guard Medevacs 67-year-old fishing vessel Captain from Matagorda Bay, Texas

The Coast Guard medevaced an injured man from Matagorda Bay, Texas, Thursday. Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi command center watchstanders received notification at 4:17 p.m. from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office that the 67-year-old captain of the commercial fishing vessel F/V Master Ricky had reportedly been struck in the head by rigging block while working gear and was intermittently unconscious. Watchstanders consulted with the duty flight surgeon, who recommended a medevac. >click to read < 21:40

Local trawler has given his life to seafood industry, says it’s vital to protect our heritage

Next year will mark 50 years that David Dardar has been in the seafood industry, dating back to when he got his first boat as a teenager. The number of captains on the water may be fewer now than when Dardar got his start, but he said it’s vital that we do whatever it takes to keep our Cajun heritage alive. Dardar is captain of the F/V Risky Business, the boat he uses to harvest seafood from the Gulf each trawling season. Dardar said the industry is shrinking, but that it’s vital that it stays alive to protect the Cajun heritage that we all know and love. photos, >click to read< 16:38 Louisiana

Gulf commercial fishermen file lawsuit over new red grouper quotas

The federal government will soon impose new limits on the amount of red grouper that commercial fishers can catch in the Gulf of Mexico and local business owners say that will impact the industry and their customers. “It will definitely cost you more today. And will probably cost you more tomorrow because there’ll be less allocation,” said Frank Chivas. Karen Bell, owner of A.P. Bell Fishing Company in Cortez agrees that the price for grouper is likely to rise. Bell has signed on to a federal lawsuit challenging the reallocation of the red grouper harvest.  > click to read < 09:49

Blessing of the Fleet returns to the Pass Christian Harbor Saturday

A celebration steeped in tradition and history returns to the Pass Christian Harbor this Saturday. The annual Blessing of the Fleet returns and organizers hope it brings awareness to the struggles faced by our Coast seafood industry. Chairman Kirk Kimball said, “It’s an honor to bring back something that we can put back on the pedestal that was once dusty and we want to refine it and put it back again.” Shrimpers will once again be blessed for a safe and bountiful season at the Pass Christian Harbor when the 44th annual event happens this weekend. > click to read < 10:25

US fish landings fell 10% during first pandemic year

America’s commercial fishing industry fell 10% in catch volume and 15% in value during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal regulators said Thursday. The 2020 haul of fish was 8.4 billion pounds, while the value of that catch was $4.8 billion, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. The early months of the pandemic posed numerous challenges for the U.S. fishing industry, which has remained economically viable despite the difficult year, NOAA officials said. NOAA made the announcement as it unveiled its “Status of the Stocks” report, which provides details about the health of the nation’s commercial fishing industry. >click to read< 15:22

Commercial fishermen concerned recreational fishing is leading to overfishing

“There are plenty of fish out here to be caught,” said Captain Matt Sexton for the Small Shellfishing vessel. “Everyone should have equal chance to catch fish out here, but there are a lot of rules and regulations that are going on that are not fair to the commercial fishermen.” Those same concerns were repeated by boat captains readying their boats for their next trip. Fishing captain Casey Streeter also owns Island Seafood Market in Matlacha. He says a big part of the problem isn’t coming from commercial or charter fishing, but rather recreational fishing; and a lack of knowledge about how much fish is actually being removed from the ecosystem. Video, >click to read< 08:42

Offshore wind farm plans collide with fishing industry concerns off Carolina coast

The Biden administration’s plans to develop wind power off the East Coast are drawing concerns from the fishing industry, in the latest example of climate policy colliding with the livelihood of coastal businesses. Interior officials say they are aware of the concerns and are working on regulatory guidance that would lay out how wind farm developers can minimize harm to commercial and recreational fishing, while compensating businesses for losses. Wednesday’s auction is moving forward before officials finish that work. More lease sales are planned in the next two years for regions off the coast of California, the central Atlantic region and in the Gulf of Mexico. Without federal guidance, offshore wind developers have carved out their own settlements with local fishing groups. “Saddling project proponents with the costs of fisheries compensation would almost certainly have an adverse impact on ratepayers and/or project finance,” association officials said in a January letter to U.S. officials. >click to read< 14:50

Gulf Coast Seafood Alliance Supports Lawsuit Challenging Unlawful Red Grouper Quotas

Commercial fishermen and members of the Gulf of Mexico seafood industry have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of a recent decision by NOAA Fisheries to reallocate red grouper quota to recreational fishermen at the expense of the commercial fishery. The Gulf Coast Seafood Alliance supports the efforts by the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Southern Offshore Fishing Association, and A.P. Bell Fish Company to challenge this decision, in an effort to restore a fair allocation for commercial fishermen. The lawsuit, filed late on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenges recent red grouper allocations approved by NOAA as part of Amendment 53 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico. >click to read< 16:16

Fernandina’s Shrimping Industry: Storied Past, Uncertain Future – A Look Back

Here we are in the birthplace of American shrimping industry. We greet visitors with a waterfront Shrimping Museum. Pink and blue larger-than-life statues of shrimp adorn our parks and street corners. Our major civic celebration is the annual Shrimp Fest, complete with a parade and people dressed like crustaceans. But is it all just nostalgia? Is our historic shrimping industry just a museum piece, or is it a vibrant business that will survive and thrive? At Dave Cook’s dock at the south end of Front Street, Roy Mc Henry, who was working on his 39-foot shrimper, Queen B, while his aging Golden Retriever, Sweetie, lounged in the cockpit. Capt. McKendree was not optimistic about the state of the local shrimp industry. >click to read< 09:22

Crewman Medevaced from Commercial Fishing Vessel in the Gulf

The Coast Guard medevaced a crew member Sunday from a fishing vessel 40 miles southeast of Cameron, Louisiana. Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston command center watchstanders received a medevac request at 2:57 a.m. from the 85-foot fishing vessel F/V Jonathan Boy II, stating a 60-year-old crew member was experiencing unconsciousness, clammy, pale skin, heavy breathing, and extreme fatigue. Watchstanders consulted with the duty flight surgeon, who recommended a medevac. photos, >click to read< 17:11

Louisiana shrimpers worry high diesel fuel prices will impact profits

Shrimpers are getting ready to cast their nets, but not without major concerns for the upcoming season. Rising fuel prices could also mean higher prices for the tasty crustaceans. “I know we are going to get hit hard by the fuel prices… You better catch a lot of shrimp,” said Cheryl Granger, owner of Granger’s Seafood in Maurice, La. “I think we’re going to have a very hard time,” Granger said. “Very hard and not just us, the crabbers, the shrimpers; everybody fishing on the water.” >click to read< 08:06

Bayou La Batre fishermen back on the water after sitting idle due to soaring fuel prices

A large turnout Sunday for the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the docks behind Saint Margaret’s Catholic Church in Bayou La Batre. It was a much-needed event for shrimpers to come together after having to stop work due to the pain at the pump. Several fishing crews gathered at the docks excited to be a part of the blessing today “We’ve cleaned her up and put a little makeup on the old gal so we put her in the fleet blessing,” said Joseph Rodriguez, shrimp boat owner. >click to read< 09:11