Category Archives: Gulf of Mexico

NOAA says a group of whales in the Gulf of Mexico are endangered

Federal scientists say a tiny group of Bryde’s whales in the Gulf of Mexico is endangered, facing threats including oil and gas exploration and development. “They’re the only year-round baleen whales that make their home in Gulf of Mexico, and (they) have a unique and very important role in the ecosystem,” said Laura Engleby, a marine mammal biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries’ service.,,,Engleby said, “We don’t really know much about this species.”>click to read<15:31

Gautier firefighters battling boat fire and possible fuel leak

For the past 3 hours, firefighters with the Gautier Fire Department have been working to put out a fire on a shrimp boat at Pitalo’s Marine in Gautier Tuesday afternoon. The fire started around 11 a.m. on The Noah, which is in dry dock at the marine yard. Dept. Chief Derek McCoy said firefighters are having trouble putting the fire out because of the close quarters of the boat. Vid clip, photo’s, >click to read<19:09

Fishing vessel sinks, leaving fishermen stranded 90-miles off Naples

Three Pinellas County men floating in a raft were rescued by the Coast Guard early Monday morning. The three-man crew left from Fort Myers Beach last Wednesday. They were 90-miles off the coast of Naples, about five days into a two-week-long fishing trip when their boat started taking on water. The first mate said it was terrifying. Working on a 32-foot fishing boat named Miss Saturia, Kyle Haskins said they didn’t have time to react. >click to read<12:45

The Destin Fisherman’s Cooperative has provided fuel and supplies since 1989

On Feb. 9, 1989, local fishermen established the co-op to help them and other fishermen to buy discounted fuel. “We had three or four fuel facilities back in the day that were gouging us, and some fishermen expressed an interest in getting some sort of a discount and they laughed at us,” said Kelly Windes, a member of the founding co-op board. “There were a lot more of us than there were of them, so we took control of it.” After buying their own fuel tanks and pumps and finding suppliers, the cooperative opened shop in an old building on March 23, 1989, at what is now HarborWalk Village. >click to read<10:56

Gulf Council Votes to Relax Quotas on Shrimp Fishing

Today, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council took final action on shrimp Amendment 18, allowing shrimpers to increase the amount of fishing allowed under the red snapper rebuilding plan. The Southern Shrimp Alliance advocated for this change for more than two years. The Council was unanimous in its decision. Once again, the Alliance won its arguments before regulators by presenting scientific research. The Council’s actions acknowledge that the shrimp fishery has made a substantial contribution to the rebuilding of the red snapper stock. Since the plan went into effect, shrimpers have achieved 100% compliance with the red snapper management plan’s goals. >click to read<17:28

China bought lots of Florida lobster despite tariffs. Keys fishermen paid the price

Chinese importers bought Florida spiny lobsters in what could be near-record numbers this season, despite a 25 percent tariff their government placed on U.S. seafood last July, according to the leading Florida Keys commercial fishermen’s trade group. That’s great news considering the fear commercial anglers had about the potential impact of growing U.S.-China trade hostilities on one of South Florida’s largest industries. “Going into the season, the big questions were: Will the Chinese buy? How much and at what price,” >click to read<20:25

Copeland man pleads not guilty to killing his father aboard fishing vessel

Casey Hickok, the Copeland man charged with killing his father aboard a fishing vessel about 66 miles west of Marco Island last month, pleaded not guilty Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Fort Myers. Robert Hickok, 54, also of Copeland, was sleeping when he was bludgeoned to death by his 32-year-old son within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., according to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Casey Hickok was charged with second-degree murder when the criminal complaint was filed on March 19. >click to read<09:15

Con Groups File Intent to Sue to Protect Atlantic Sharks, Giant Rays From Lethal Longlines, Gillnets

On behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice today filed a notice of intent to sue the Trump administration for failing to protect oceanic whitetip sharks and giant manta rays from being killed by longlines and huge nets used by U.S. fishermen in Atlantic fisheries. >click to read<13:59

Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet April 1-4, 2019 in Biloxi

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will meet April 1-4, 2019 at the IP Casino & Resort located at 850 Bayview Avenue in Biloxi, Mississippi. 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<22:51

Murder on the high seas? Complaint says Collier man beat dad to death on fishing boat

A Collier County man is facing charges in what the U.S. government says was an apparent murder on the high seas out in the Gulf of Mexico off Marco Island. Casey Lowell Hickok, 32, of Copeland, near Everglades City, was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, while aboard a commercial fishing vessel, Hickok was witnessed bludgeoning a sleeping member of the boat’s crew to death with a spare boat alternator, which he later threw off the vessel. The charges were filed in the Middle District of U.S. District Court in Fort Myers. >click to read<15:27

Fake lobster-tag case leads to arrests in Florida Keys

Florida fisheries investigators have made at least two arrests following a long inquiry into the sale of counterfeit lobster trap tags required by law for commercial anglers to do business in the state. The suspected ringleader is a Palmetto Bay woman who is the registered agent of more than 50 active and inactive commercial fishing operations in Florida. She was arrested Monday in the Florida Keys on racketeering and fraud charges. Elena P. Reyes, 67, is being held in Monroe County jail on a total bond of $892,500. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators also arrested Michael Enrique Sanchez,

Florida Keys Maritime business back after Hurricane Irma

Editor’s note: It’s been 542 days since Hurricane Irma swept the Keys. By in large, the Keys have recovered. But there are still some pockets that are working on rebuilding, including commercial fishermen. Many lost thousands of traps and are still struggling against the vagaries of Mother Nature. It’s something to note this weekend of the Marathon Seafood Festival. Many homes and businesses were destroyed when Hurricane Irma swept through the Florida Keys. Some will never be rebuilt; many small businesses were forced to close forever. >click to read<10:48

Game wardens seized large amounts of shrimp

Local Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens seized just over 1,800 pounds of shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday afternoon. According to Calhoun County Game Warden Chelsea Bailey, she along with a couple other game wardens were patrolling the Gulf of Mexico specifically for shrimp boats. “We inspect their catch, the net and the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) that they use on the boat,” Bailey said. These guys get rousted. >click to read<15:57

Shrimp – Record Lows in Louisiana and Florida-and a Near Record High in Texas-Close Out 2018

The Fishery Monitoring Branch of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center released shrimp landings data from the Gulf of Mexico for December 2018 and January 2019. For December, NOAA reported that 6.5 million pounds of shrimp were landed in the Gulf of Mexico, down from 6.9 million pounds last year, and 24.4 percent below the prior eighteen-year historical average of 8.6 million pounds. The decline in landings for the month was due to low shrimp landings in Louisiana and on the west coast of Florida. >click to read<21:04

Coast Guard, NOAA terminate voyage for illegal fishing in Tortugas Ecological Reserve

The Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration terminated the voyage of the 83-foot commercial fishing vessel, Lady Kristie, with three people aboard Thursday after discovering multiple violations near Tortugas Ecological Reserve. Fishing in an ecological reserve violates NOAA regulations. At approximately 12:30 a.m. the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo (WPC-1112) crew detected the Lady Kristie within a protected area. >click to read<17:08

Barnhill opens Got Ice, Inc.

Eddie Barnhill, a third generation Pine Island fisherman, has sold his boats and traps and started a new business, Got Ice, Inc. The Barnhill family has been fishing from Pine Island since Eddie Barn-hill’s grandfather, Alfred Barnhill, arrived here from Punta Gorda. His father, Edward Sr., also fished his entire life and that was Eddie’s plan to fish until he turned the business over to his sons. >click to read<10:15

Gulf of Mexico: 14-year Taylor Energy oil leak could be two times larger than BP spill

A toppled oil platform that has been leaking into the Gulf of Mexico for more than 14 years may have released much more oil than recent estimates have indicated, possibly pushing the total volume well beyond BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. New research indicates 2,100 to 71,400 gallons of oil are escaping each day from the Taylor Energy platform site, about 10 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River. The high estimate of 71,400 gallons per day is more than two times larger than the highest potential rate cited by the Coast Guard when it ordered Taylor to fix the problem late last year. >click to read<10:24

US Pelagic Trawler Picks TMC compressors

Shipbuilder Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors has awarded TMC Compressors of the Seas (TMC) a contract to deliver a complete marine compressed air system for the 100 m long Rolls-Royce designed pelagic trawler the yard is building for Seattle based Arctic Storm Management Group. According to a press release from the Louisiana-based Thoma-Sea, which designs, constructs, and delivers vessels, tugs, and ships for the commercial marine sector,,, >click to read<20:23

Reintroduced Shark Trade Bill Promotes Successful U.S. Conservation Policies at Policies at Global Level

The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2019 – A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House advances global shark conservation by ensuring that all shark and ray products imported into the United States meet the same high ethical and sustainability standards required of American fishermen. The bill has broad support from conservation groups, zoos, aquariums and the fishing industry. >click to read<13:14

Coast Guard rescues fisherman who fell overboard near South Padre Island, Texas

The Coast Guard rescued a man who fell overboard off a 65-foot shrimping vessel near South Padre Island, Texas, Saturday afternoon. A Coast Guard Station South Padre Island boat crew on a routine patrol witnessed a crewmember fall off the 65-foot shrimping vessel Morgan Rae. The boat crew recovered the crewmember and transferred him back onto the vessel. There are no reported injuries. -USCG- 10:02

Agency encourages shrimpers to sign up for bycatch study

State fisheries officials have extended a deadline for Louisiana shrimpers to participate in a study that aims to monitor how much of other types of seafood get caught in trawlers’ nets. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries opened the application process in September and initially had set a Dec. 3 deadline for shrimpers to sign up. The agency has now extended the deadline to Feb. 4. “The voluntary study was requested by the shrimp industry to collect bycatch data during commercial shrimping trips throughout state waters,” the agency says in a news release. “The study supports the sustainability certification of Louisiana’s shrimp fishery, permitting Louisiana shrimp access to additional markets.” >click to read<12:13

Heart of Louisiana: Cajun Christmas

A Christmas display in downtown Morgan City got a major upgrade this year with help from Hollywood. An Emmy Award-winning special effects artist has turned the town’s landmark shrimp boat into Christmas on the bayou. “It looks amazing,” said Kendra Dupre. “We’re art teachers. We’re from Houma, but we’re originally from this area. It’s just amazing to see such technique. Everything is so detailed.” The new, larger-than-life Cajun Christmas figures have taken over the town’s iconic shrimp boat, parked here in a highway median for decades. The display is a Christmas gift from Morgan City native Lee Romaire, who owns a Hollywood special effects studio. Video,>click to read<11:08

Fishing overhaul draws praise from various sides, What are your thoughts?

An overhaul of federal fishing regulations approved Monday by the U.S. Senate is drawing praise from groups on competing sides of the long-running issue. The bill, which now heads to the House, was the subject of months of debate and compromise among lawmakers, commercial and recreational fishing interests and environmentalists. “Passage of the Modern Fish Act will boost our conservation efforts and benefit the local economies that depend on recreational fishing,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the bill’s sponsor, said in a news release. “I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill passed, but there is still more work to be done. I look forward to continuing our efforts to modernize federal fishing policies on the Gulf Coast and to support our fishermen.”>click to read<09:57

‘The Worst I’ve Ever Seen It’: Lean Stone Crab Season Follows Red Tide in Florida

On a good day, in a good year, a captain fishing off the shores of the Florida Everglades might catch 400 pounds of one of the state’s unrivaled delicacies, the stone crab. These are not good days. As the sun began to set on a recent cloudless afternoon, the kind that makes it unthinkable to spend winters anywhere but in Florida, Rick Collins piloted the High Cotton to a dock in Everglades City, the fishing village where three generations of his family have made a living trapping stone crab. His crew offloaded the day’s haul onto a huge scale. Seventy-three pounds. “This is about the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Mr. Collins, 69, a crabber for more than half a century. >click to read<13:37

Louisiana: State begins coast-wide effort to sustain fisheries hit by wetland erosion, restoration projects

State officials have embarked on a coast-wide effort to partner with the commercial and recreational fishing industry to find ways to make fishing more sustainable in the future, even as some state projects aimed at restoring coastal wetlands and land threaten fisheries and fishers. Representatives of Louisiana Sea Grant, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority told members of the authority’s board on Wednesday (Dec. 12) that a joint fishing industry adaptation program begun earlier this year is aimed at listening to fishers and incorporating their ideas in any future adaptation plans. >click to read<12:22

Commission denies commercial fishing expansion in Hernando Beach

A proposal to expand commercial fish processing into the center of Hernando Beach was unanimously denied Tuesday by the Hernando County Commission. The proposal by Hernando Beach Seafood, which operates commercial fish and stone crab processing on Calienta Street near the main Tarpon Canal, would have moved its stone crab operation to a site on Shoal Line Boulevard where the company’s crab boats moor just off the Marlin Canal. The company needed the new processing site to reduce crowding at the Calienta location, where shrimp and crab boats cross each other when stone crabs are in season, according to spokesman Allen Sherrod. >click to read<22:46

Car was engulfed in flames after violent crash. Watch fishermen pull out the driver.

Jim Biggart says his brother Andy might not be alive today if it weren’t for the fishermen who rushed to pull him from his burning car. “My entire family will never be able to repay the debt to those people for saving Andy’s life,” The collision — which was so strong that the car immediately burst into flames — happened outside of the Nature Coast Marina in Hernando Beach. Kathryn Birren, who owns the marina, told the media company Storyful that the fishermen there heard a crash and went outside to look. >click to read<13:36

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Years after Deepwater Horizon, Offshore Drilling Hazards Persist

This is part one of a three-part investigation into offshore drilling safety. >Read part two here. Read part three here.< They are known as the “last line of defense” against an offshore drilling blowout and uncontrolled spill. They are supposed to save the lives of oil workers and protect the environment. But, as the Trump Administration proposes weakening safety requirements for these critical defenses, a Project On Government Oversight investigation found that they are dangerously vulnerable to failure. In an emergency, the defenses known as “blowout preventers” are meant to choke off the flow of highly pressurized gas and oil rising through well pipes from deep beneath the ocean floor. However, far from being fail-safe, blowout preventers have failed in myriad and often unpredictable ways. So have the people responsible for maintaining and operating them. >click to read<17:42

California man convicted in violent offshore stabbing incident

When the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kingfisher pulled up to the commercial fishing vessel Billy B 46 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico on the night of Aug. 20, 2017, the crew found Captain Noah Gibson and deckhand A.J. Love floating in the dark water, clinging to a life raft and each bleeding from multiple stab wounds. What had started as a routine fishing trip out of Bon Secour ended in a nightmare for the men after Christopher Shane Dreiling stabbed them in a delusional attack and forced them bleeding into the Gulf waters. Last week, Dreiling was convicted in federal court on two counts of assault with intent to commit murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. >click to read<18:38

Where did all the lobsters and stone crabs go? How the fishing industry is bouncing back

The red tide algae bloom plaguing Southwest Florida hasn’t hit the Florida Keys. And Hurricane Irma happened more than a year ago. But they’re both affecting the island chain’s commercial fishing industry. That’s a crucial impact because the industry is the second-largest stand-alone economic generator in the Keys next to tourism. Fishing is estimated by the Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association to bring in about $900 million a year to the Monroe County economy. That includes transactions such as fuel sales, dockage fees, and boat and engine repairs. >click to read<18:13