Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting in Mobile, AL October 22 – 25, 2018

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet October 22 – 25, 2018 in Mobile, AL at the Renaissance Battle House, 26 N. Royal Street, Mobile, AL 36602.  The Committee and Council Agendas and meeting materials are posted on the Council website at >www.gulfcouncil.org<. Meeting materials will be posted as they become available. Council meetings are open to the public and are broadcast live over the internet. > Register for the webinar<. 12:48

Despite Hurricane Michael, Eastern Shipbuilding Keeps Working

In a display of resilience, Eastern Shipbuilding of Panama City, Florida is already getting back to work after Hurricane Michael, despite the storm’s devastating impact on the Florida Panhandle. However, yard manager Justin Smith says that only 100 out of 800 workers have returned to their duties so far, and many of them have lost their homes. “We are a family at Eastern Shipbuilding,” Smith said in a statement. Eastern says that it is helping to feed and take care of its employees’ families in order to help workers return to the yard.,,, Unfortunately, one of Eastern’s commercial shipbuilding orders suffered damage due to the storm. The newly-launched trawler North Star partially capsized in St. Andrews Bay during the hurricane,>click to read<09:41

Stone crab season off to promising start in Florida Keys

The state’s stone crab fishery should expect to take a hit this season from the red tide algae bloom that’s been plaguing Florida’s west coast for months, but the Keys, which accounts for 65 percent of the harvest of the sought-after claws, does not appear to be affected. The eight-month commercial season began Monday, with fishermen pulling traps that have been soaking for the past 10 days. Monday afternoon, boats were still coming back from the water, but Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association, said captains were reporting a promising first day. >click to read<20:58

Coast Guard Assists Hurricane Michael Response Effort

First responders have swung into action in the wake of Hurricane Michael, providing assistance to survivors and beginning the difficult task of searching for the missing. 17 deaths have been confirmed so far, and teams are still combing the debris left by the storm. As of Thursday night, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that it had assisted 232 people and rescued 40 across the breadth of the disaster zone. In Panama City, a Coast Guard shallow-water response team assisted more than 140 residents at a rehabilitation center, providing food, water, and oxygen for the patients and helping them board buses for relocation. >click to read<11:19

Hurricane Michael: Alaska bound factory trawler ripped from mooring, left lying on her side

Hurricane Michael ripped an almost-finished Alaska factory trawler built for a Seattle company from a shipyard mooring in Panama City, Florida, and left it lying on its starboard side in the shallow water of Saint Andrews Bay. “The boat was nearing completion, and because of all the destruction down there we have not been able to survey the vessel,” said Jim Johnson, president of Seattle-based Glacier Fish Co., which is responsible for managing the ship. photo, courier journal>click to read<23:12

Hurricane Michael Death Toll Rises to 11 Overnight

Hurricane Michael continued its rampage through the mid-Atlantic early Friday morning after ravaging parts of the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and the Carolinas, spawning deadly floods that rose so fast that there was little time to evacuate. At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the powerful storm. Michael made landfall as a high-end Category 4 storm on the Florida Panhandle Wednesday, smashing towns to rubble. >click to read<08:48

National Hurricane Center – Hurricane Michael Public Advisory – 400 PM Update

At 400 PM CDT (2100 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Michael was located near latitude 26.0 North, longitude 86.4 West. Michael is moving toward the north near 12 mph (19 km/h). A northward motion is expected through tonight, followed by a northeastward motion on Wednesday and Thursday. On the forecast track, the center of Michael will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico through tonight. The center of Michael is then expected to move inland over the Florida Panhandle or Florida Big Bend area on Wednesday, and then move northeastward across the southeastern United States Wednesday night and Thursday, and move off the Mid-Atlantic coast away from the United States on Friday. >click to read<18:21

Tropical Storm Michael prompts hurricane watches in Florida as it picks up strength

Hurricane watches are now in effect in numerous counties along the Florida Panhandle as Tropical Storm Michael continues to strengthen ahead of an anticipated landfall as a Category 2 hurricane later this week. The storm, which has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, was about 90 miles east of Cozumel, Mexico early Monday morning and is dumping rain on Cuba, the National Hurricane Center said. “Michael is forecast to be a hurricane, and possibly a major hurricane, when it reaches the northeastern Gulf Coast by mid-week, and storm surge and hurricane watches are now in effect for portions of the area,” the Center said in an advisory. >click to read<09:22

Program helps area shrimpers sell ‘ultimate premium product’

The Louisiana Limited Wild Plate Frozen shrimp program is informing buyers about the food preservation technology. “This is the ultimate premium product,” said Thomas Hymel, LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent. “It’s like it fell out of a cast net and it’s frozen.” Shrimp are packaged in 5-pound containers, then held on a plate freezer that is kept at minus 35 degrees. The products treated with this process look fresh from the ocean when they are thawed, Hymel said, with heads and even antenna intact. “This is as close to the ocean as you can get,” he said. The process also can be used for fish, Hymel said. >click to read<13:40

Coast Guard, partner agencies respond to diesel spill from grounded vessel northwest of Key West

The Coast Guard and partner agencies are responding to a diesel fuel spill that occurred approximately 7 miles northwest of Key West, Tuesday. At approximately 8:46 a.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Key West received a report of the fishing vessel, San Diego running aground on the Northwest Channel Jetty. Watchstanders launched a Coast Guard Station Key West 45-foot Response Boat—Medium crew who arrived on scene, embarked the four people that were aboard the vessel and determined the hull was breached causing pollution in the area. >click to read<14:19

Panama City man catches 330-pound Warsaw grouper – “Definitely a fish of a lifetime”

For as long as he can remember, commercial fisherman Brandon Lee Van Horn has wanted to catch a really big fish. Not your run-of-the-mill big fish, but a really big fish — the kind you tell your grandkids about one day or that strangers take pictures of, or that ends up in the newspaper. On Monday, Van Horn’s years on the Gulf paid off when he showed up at the dock of Greg Abrams Seafood with a 330-pound Warsaw grouper, 313 pounds after it had been gutted. “You have no idea how much that fish means to me,” he said. “I will probably never catch another one that big ever again.”>click to read<22:33

Plans for Texas City ammonia plant spark environmental, health concerns

Roy Lee Cannon stands on the deck of his shrimp boat docked at Eagle Point Fishing Camp during the golden hour of a summer evening,,, It’s the end of a long work day for Cannon, a shift that began before sunrise. The early-morning hours are harder for the 76-year-old Cannon, who has a titanium plate in his arm from an accident and a pig valve in his chest, but this time of day is undoubtedly the most productive. On a good day, Cannon will haul in 600 pounds of shrimp, though his yield steadily has decreased as the bay and ship channel have become a highway of commerce for the oil and chemical industries. So, when Cannon heard an $800 million anhydrous ammonia plant was in the works for the shores of Texas City, he decided that another potential bay polluter should not proceed without protest. >click to read<18:06

Bayou La Batre – Coastal Alabama Citizens Rise Up And Defeat Job-Killing Eco-Tourism Ordinance

Fearing the loss of both their livelihood and their way of life, residents of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, banded together earlier this summer and scuttled a city ordinance crafted to promote eco-tourism. Located along the Gulf Coast, a few miles southwest of Mobile, Bayou La Batre is a fishing village with a vibrant seafood-processing industry. The city of 2,500 souls has survived Hurricane Katrina and other unpleasant visitors from the tropics. But a 200-page zoning proposal developed by the city’s planning commission with assistance from the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning Commission (SARPC) and environmental groups triggered a storm of protest that sent the city’s mayor and his supporters running for cover. >click to read<12:04

Victory! Court Shuts Down Offshore Aquaculture in Gulf of Mexico

Today, Center for Food Safety, representing a coalition of fishing and public interest groups, won their lawsuit challenging the Department of Commerce’s new federal rules that would have permitted, for the first time, industrial aquaculture offshore in U.S. federal waters. “This is a landmark victory for protecting our oceans, for fishing communities and conservationists,” said George Kimbrell, CFS Legal Director and lead counsel in the case. “Allowing industrial net-pen aquaculture and its known environmental harms in the Gulf of Mexico is a grave threat. Very simply, as the Court properly held, aquaculture is not ‘fishing.’ These types of harms cannot be allowed under existing fisheries law never intended for that purpose.” >click to read<18:51

State of Louisiana seeks shrimpers for bycatch study

State fisheries officials are asking Louisiana shrimpers to participate in a study that aims to monitor how much other types of seafood get caught in trawlers’ nets. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the voluntary 2019 study is part of the agency’s commitment to “support the sustainability certification of Louisiana’s shrimp fishery.”,,, Participation in the state study will require commercial trawlers to allow agency staff members aboard their boats during designated trips throughout the 2019 shrimp seasons. The staff members will collect a sample from each haul. A background check and vessel and site inspection is required of each participating fisherman. >click to read<12:12

Four crewmembers rescued from capsized fishing vessel near Sabine Pass, Texas

The Coast Guard assisted in the rescue of four crewmembers from a fishing vessel after it capsized near Sabine Pass, Texas, Tuesday morning. Eighth Coast Guard District watchstanders in New Orleans received an emergency position indicating radio beacon signal from the 65-foot fishing vessel Captain M&M, which provided an approximate location of the vessel, and launched an Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew. >click to read<13:31

Southeast Texas shrimpers struggle with slow season

Shrimp boats along the Southeast Texas coastline remain docked as their owners try to navigate an industry whose hardships haven’t stopped since Tropical Storm Harvey entered the Gulf of Mexico a little more than a year ago. With federal regulations curbing production and unfavorable sea conditions hampering shrimp populations, Port Arthur and Sabine Pass shrimpers are hoping for the best after a season of loss. Peak shrimping season, from mid-July to October, is closing out this year with about 20 to 25 percent less production than last year, Texas Shrimp Association executive director Andrea Hance said. >click to read<18:38

17 tons of dead fish cleared from beaches due to red tide

One Florida county has dumped more than 17 tons (15,420 kilograms) of dead fish collected since red tide algae crept up from South Florida into Tampa Bay. Fish are dying off at such a rate that officials are seeking more commercial vessels to sift dead sea life from the Gulf of Mexico and haul it to a landfill. Currently, two shrimp boats and three other pieces of commercial equipment are being used to collect the fish. But it is not enough. Contractors are being asked to bring in more equipment, including large beach rakes. The rust-colored bloom could be seen from the air off Redington and Madeira beaches on Monday afternoon. >click to read<20:37

Louisiana shrimpers avert strike but their catch hits all-time low

Louisiana shrimpers are getting a little more money for their catch – but a lot less of a catch. The summer has been a roller coaster for the state’s shrimp industry. Last month, shrimpers threatened to strike if prices continued their steep decline, reaching levels early this year that hadn’t been seen since the 1980s. But a slight uptick – about a nickel more per pound of shrimp – placated many shrimpers. “It pacified them from doing anything,” Acy Cooper, a Venice shrimper and president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, said Thursday (Sept. 6). “They’re kind of good with it, but not good with it, if you know what I mean.” >click to read<12:49

Red tide and green slime: Florida faces epic statewide fight with algae

We may smell it first, warned environmentalist Rae Ann Wessel. She was right. Along a wall of mangroves, the stench last week advertised of something to be buried. It was a greeting to Fort Myers’ algae horrors. Green slime and red tide are invading the Fort Myers region’s inshore and offshore waters, slaughtering marine life and threatening a more sinister outcome: Toxins produced by a green-slime variety may link to neurodegenerative illnesses, say some scientists who are investigating. For decades, Florida’s watery environment has been sickened by pollution from septic and sewer systems, storm water and fertilizer from landscaping and agriculture. That “nutrient” pollution, with nitrogen and phosphorus flavors,,, Video, >click to read<14:24

Gordon Strengthens A Little As It Heads Toward the North-Central Gulf Coast, Will Come Ashore This Evening or Tonight

At 400 PM CDT, the center of Tropical Storm Gordon was located by NOAA Doppler weather radars near latitude 29.4 North, longitude 87.8 West. Gordon is moving toward the northwest near 15 mph (24 km/h) and this general motion is expected to continue until landfall occurs tonight along the north-central Gulf coast. A northwestward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected after landfall, with a gradual turn toward the north-northwest and north forecast to occur on Friday. On the forecast track, the center of Gordon will make landfall along the north-central Gulf Coast within the hurricane warning area this evening or tonight, and then move inland over the lower Mississippi Valley through Wednesday. >click to read<19:26

Tropical Storm Gordon Public Advisory

At 700 AM CDT (1200 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Gordon was located near latitude 28.1 North, longitude 86.2 West. Gordon is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph (25 km/h). A west-northwestward to northwestward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected over the next few days. On the forecast track, the center of Gordon will move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico today, and will approach the north-central Gulf Coast within the warning area late this afternoon or evening, and move inlandover the lower Mississippi Valley tonight or early Wednesday. >click to read<08:10

Tropical Storm Gordon Public Advisory: Storm Surge Warning, Hurricane Watch is in effect

At 200 PM EDT (1800 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Gordon was located near latitude 25.8 North, longitude 81.9 West. Gordon is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph (26 km/h and a west- northwestward to northwestward motion is expected over the next 72 hours. On the forecast track, the center of Gordon will move farther away from the southwestern coast of Florida this afternoon and move across the eastern Gulf of Mexico tonight and Tuesday. The center of Gordon will approach the coast within the warning area along the central Gulf Coast by late Tuesday or Tuesday night, and move inland over the lower Mississippi Valley on Wednesday. >click to read<14:48

Coast Guard rescues 3 fishermen in response to EPIRB activation near Port Isabel, Texas

The Coast Guard rescued three crewmembers from a life raft after their fishing vessel caught fire approximately 40 miles east of Port Isabel, Texas, Friday morning. Eighth Coast Guard District watchstanders in New Orleans received an emergency position indicating radio beacon alert from the fishing vessel Master D, which provided an approximate location of the vessel. Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Coho to the location. The Coho crew located the fishing vessel on fire, as well as the three-person crew in a life raft nearby and transferred them aboard the cutter. >click to read<12:19

Deepwater Horizon oil spill didn’t really hurt Florida pro-drilling leaders say

Former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp caused a furor recently when he claimed oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster “didn’t even reach the shores of Florida.” He now admits he was wrong. Sort of. “I guess I overstated it,” said Kottkamp, now leading a group seeking to open the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil exploration, said in an interview this week with the Tampa Bay Times. His attempt to walk back the remark could offer a preview of the campaign to come as groups push to expand drilling in federal waters eight years later. He and another industry representative say the BP oil spill was more of a public relations disaster fueled by the television news media, rather than an environmental disaster. >click to read<15:47

Shrimpers Still Impacted by Shortage of Workers

Shrimpers in the Rio Grande Valley say they are still experiencing a shortage of workers. Captain Jesus Moreno tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS it’s a tough job. He explains, new shrimpers quit within days and ask to go home. This year, the number of visas issued under the H2B program expanded. Still, only about 15 to 20 percent of the shrimpers received a visa worker. KRGV’s Christian von Preysing spoke with Andrea Hance with the Texas Shrimp Association. She says Texas shrimpers need a total of 750 workers. >click to watch<15:02

Will La.’s shrimpers strike? ‘It’s a last resort’

Acy Cooper bought his first shrimping vessel, an old wooden flatboat, when he was 15. Cooper followed his father and grandfather before him into the rich gumbo Gulf of Mexico waters from the fishing community of Venice on the coast of southern Louisiana. Today Cooper and his two sons and son-in-law operate two Laffite skiffs — one 35-footer and one 30-footer — docked in the same community for another generation. But although many American business owners are bracing for potential negative impacts of a trade war triggered by President Donald Trump’s tariffs, Cooper and his fellow shrimpers are pleading for such protections as foreign producers dump shrimp in the U.S. and cratering prices in the process. >click to read<18:51

Pasco shrimpers’ incomes cut by red tide

The red tide crisis is hitting home for Pasco County shrimpers. They worry their way of life could be coming to an end. With dead fish washing ashore by the truckload, the demand for bait shrimp is shrinking. It comes down to a drop in demand. Bait shops aren’t buying bait shrimp in the red tide zones.  And sport fishermen are staying away. That means, they’re not buying what fishermen catch. The shrimp is not the kind you see on your plate, it’s the kind other fishermen use to catch fish. Video >click to read<14:22

Senate MSA reauthorization a step back for fishing communities

In July, the House passed H.R. 200 the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” a much needed update of federal fisheries law that allows for both sustainable fisheries management and the long-term preservation of our nation’s fishing communities. Unfortunately, its counterpart bill making its way through the Senate would likely have the opposite effect. The Senate bill, S.1520, or the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018,” introduces changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA)—the main law governing U.S. fisheries—that would impose increasingly burdensome regulations on American fishermen and undermine H.R. 200’s goal of increasing flexibility in fisheries management. >click to read<17:51

Shrimpin ain’t easy, but shrimpers finding ways to navigate 30 yr low prices

Shrimpers across the state have been complaining about foreign imports that are driving prices to a thirty year low. Shrimpers with larger boats say they’re aiming for higher quantities to unload at processing plants on the Gulf Coast, while shrimpers with smaller boats are trying to build networks in communities by selling directly to the public. “With a bigger boat you can chase bigger shrimp to get more money for them. There’s nothing but little shrimp closer to land, the beach where the small boats gotta stay. I mean it’s all they can do really,” said Marty LeBlanc. >click to read<09:26