Category Archives: South Atlantic

This Hilton Head shrimp boat is a Lowcountry comeback story — and now a viral photo

She was surf fishing when she saw the boat, its nets trawling the water, its running lights bright in the ever-darkening sky, and its size made her pause, then hurry from the beach. Terri Chabot lives in Kure Beach, N.C., close to the pier the shrimp boat was nearing Saturday, and she gambled she’d be able to run home and back before the moment passed. The sun was setting and birds circled the boat, which, with its outriggers deployed, looked much like a pelican skimming the sea. It was under a half-mile offshore, Chabot estimated. She could not make out its name. click here to read the story 09:39

Trump Administration Dives Into Fish Fight

An unprecedented Trump administration decision over the summer that overruled an interstate fishing commission has drawn the ire of critics who worry that keeping a healthy and viable supply of flounder in the Atlantic Ocean is being sacrificed to commercial profits. While the fight over fish largely has been out of the public eye, it has implications for Maryland and other coastal states. In July, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross overruled a recommendation by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission finding New Jersey out of compliance with proposed 2017 harvest limits of summer flounder along the Atlantic coast. click here to read the story 15:28

Bi-Partisan effort to keep open permanently Newport, Charleston Coast Guard air bases

“We remain extremely concerned about Coast Guard air facilities in the high-use ports of Newport, Oregon and Charleston, South Carolina,” the four lawmakers wrote Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation; the committee’s ranking member Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.); Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chair of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure; and the House committee’s ranking member, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).  click here to read the letter 13:09

Chairman James Gilmore hopes to modernize Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

The announcement in mid-October that James Gilmore had been elected Chairman of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) came as no surprise to anglers familiar with the fishery management process at the federal level. Voted in by the ASMFC State Commissioners from Maine to Florida, the lifelong Amityville resident had spent the past two years as vice chairman. He is also Division of Marine Resources Director for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), a position he has held for the last decade and will continue to hold. In his new role as ASMFC chairman, Gilmore oversees both administration and policy issues for the regulatory agency’s individual species management boards. click here to read the story 09:35

Savannah scientists continue study of black gill in shrimp

As the Research Vessel Savannah moved slowly along Georgia’s coast in early October, Wynn Gale calmly arranged about a dozen shrimp on a table inside one of the boat’s laboratories. He inspected each specimen for dark gill coloration, and then he took a photo of the shrimp on his smartphone. Black gill, named because of a telltale dark coloration on shrimps’ gills, is caused by a microscopic parasite. Scientists have determined that the parasite is a ciliate, a single-cell organism, but have yet to identify the specific type. Scientists say shrimp suffering from black gill are safe for humans to eat. click here to read the story 08:53

ASMFC rejects plan to change menhaden management strategy, increases catch limit 8%

The Atlantic Marine Fisheries Commission decided Monday not to change the way it manages menhaden, an important species of fish at the bottom of the food chain. At a meeting in Linthicum, the panel rejected a proposal from conservationists that would have considered the effect of the menhaden commercial fishery on larger Atlantic ecosystems. Instead, on Tuesday the commission adopted a revised menhaden catch limit of 216,000 metric tons for 2018 and 2019, an 8 percent increase over the current limit. The limit is intended to ensure the menhaden population remains stable. click here to read the story 11:16

The Future Of Offshore Wind Farms In The Atlantic

Fishermen are worried about an offshore wind farm proposed 30 miles out in the Atlantic from Montauk, New York, the largest fishing port in the state. They say those wind turbines – and many others that have been proposed – will impact the livelihood of fishermen in New York and New England. Scallop fisherman Chris Scola pulls out of a Montauk marina at 2 a.m. and spends the next two-and-a-half hours motoring to an area about 14 miles out into the Atlantic. Then, with the help of his two-man crew, spends about 10 hours dredging the sea floor for scallops before heading back to port.,,, “It’s not just us in New York. It’s all down the Seaboard. They want projects from Maine all the way down to South Carolina.” click here to read the story 14:57

Environmentalists Are Wrong About Menhaden Fishery

Fishing companies are at odds with Rhode Island environmental advocacy groups over proposed changes for the menhaden fishing industry, Changes to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden are up for a vote at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in Maryland this Monday and Tuesday. Meghan Lapp, fishery liaison for the Rhode Island-based Seafreeze Ltd, said that temporary plan shouldn’t be implemented because it’s based off of science that isn’t applicable to menhaden. click here to read the story 12:19

Atlantic Menhaden Management Board Meeting November 13, 2017 1:00 pm to consider approval of Amendment 3

The Board will meet to consider approval of Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden. The Commission’s Business Session will meet immediately following the conclusion of the Atlantic Menhaden Board to consider final approval of Amendment 3. In total, there are 3 sets of meeting materials:  main meeting materials, supplemental materials and supplemental materials # 2. The main meeting materials, which can be reviewed pdf click here include the Draft Agenda, Draft Board Proceedings from August 2017, and the Technical Committee Memo on Stock Projections for the Interim Reference Point Options in Draft Amendment 3 (please note this has been revised in Supplemental Materials #2). click here for info and webinar link 20:00

THE FORAGE FISH FARCE

December 14, 2012 — The Providence Journal’s “PolitiFact” unit investigated claims made by Pew Environment Group in advertisements they ran in several newspapers asking east coast governors to support their demand for a 50% cut in the menhaden harvest. Pew justified this demand saying “… in recent years, menhaden numbers along our coast have plummeted by 90 percent.”  The newspaper found the claim to be “Mostly False”. The Providence Journal Lenfest is a Marketing/PR/Lobbying arm of Pew Charitable Trusts, Pew Environmental Group. They (Pew, Lenfest, Oceana, EDF, etc.) are presently working on eliminating the East Coast Menhaden fishery (aka Bunker, Pogies) after going after West Coast sardines recently. click here to read the story 11:38

Decision coming Monday on Menhaden management

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will decide on a new management plan for Atlantic menhaden at a meeting near Baltimore on Monday. Fishermen and environmentalists have a lot riding on how much of the resource is set aside for fishing, and how much is left for wildlife predators. Known as Amendment 3, the new rule will set the future course for managing the forage fish species eaten by many other fish, birds like osprey, dolphins and whales. click here to read the story Atlantic Menhaden Management Board – The Board will meet to consider approval of Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden. click here to read 3 sets of meeting materials 10:35

How Big Business Uses Big Government To Ruin Small Fishermen Like Me

Ensnared in an international trade dispute between Vietnam and very large U.S. catfish farms are hundreds of small wild-caught catfish producers throughout the United States. As a commercial fisherman for near on 40 years now, it didn’t take long for me to figure out that nature was at best ambivalent about whether I make a living. Being driven from the water by a thunderstorm that made working the last few crabtraps in a string unsafe was not unusual. Even if the weather part of nature cooperated, of course, there were fluctuations in abundance.,, But you know what, your own government is not nature click here to read the story 09:08

NOAA: American Fisheries Remain a Strong Economic Driver

Commercial and recreational fisheries remain a strong contributor to the United States economy, according to the annual Fisheries of the United States report released today by NOAA.
Saltwater recreational fishing remains one of America’s favorite pastimes and a key contributor to the national economy,,, Also in 2016, U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.6 billion pounds of seafood (down 1.5 percent from 2015) valued at $5.3 billion (up 2.1 percent from 2015). The highest value commercial species were lobster ($723 million),,, click here to read the report   click here for infographics 15:27

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

Tropical Storm Philippe heads toward Florida Keys

Tropical Storm Philippe, which formed Saturday afternoon (Oct. 28) off the coast of Cuba, was closing in on the Florida Keys hours later and expected to cross the southern tip of the state overnight. According to the National Hurricane Center, Philippe was still a weak tropical storm as of 8 p.m. Central time with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. It was was 75 miles southwest of Key West and moving north at 28 mph. The storm is expected to make a turn to the northeast overnight, taking it into the northwest Bahamas by Sunday morning. click here to read the story 21:36

Report on U.S. Marine Sanctuary Oil Drilling Sent to White House, Not Released to Public

U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross sent a report to the White House on Wednesday containing recommendations on whether to change the boundaries of 11 marine sanctuaries to allow more oil and gas drilling, but the report was not made public. Commerce reviewed sanctuaries containing 425 million acres of coral reefs, marine mammal habitats and pristine beaches, as part of an administration strategy to open new areas to oil and gas drilling. click here to read the story 07:18

“The fact is, law abiding, licensed commercial fishermen are considered by our government to be the most dangerous people in America.”

In September 1983 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Balelo v Baldridge decided the first court challenge against the government policy of placing federal observers on commercial fishing vessels to monitor their operations. The plaintiffs were Pacific tuna purse seiners. This the first observer program in the American fishing industry was enacted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The first observers spent many weeks on the high seas with the fishermen at a time when there was literally no other way to assure that the newly enacted law — meant to bring the mortality of marine mammals in the tuna fishery as close to zero as possible — was being followed by these operations. It was provided for in this portion of the MMPA that the captains be given notice well in advance of the required observer trips and that the funding be fully covered by Congress. click here to read the story 19:21

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

State Sen. Goldfinch testimony for offshore oil drilling draws criticism

State Sen. Stephen Goldfinch told a U.S. House subcommittee panel Wednesday that he sees oil and gas exploration off the coast of South Carolina as an opportunity for economic expansion in the Palmetto State. Goldfinch, who represents Murrells Inlet, the Waccamaw Neck and part of Charleston County, was one of four people to testify before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Goldfinch told the House panel that he believes “offshore oil and gas exploration and development could write the next chapter” in Georgetown’s history. click here to read the story 08:37

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

Overfishing Operation Nets Three Eel Traffickers

Three men pleaded guilty Thursday to trafficking juvenile American eels — a species at risk of overfishing as harvesters try to meet demand in the East Asian markets.,, “Operation Broken Glass” has resulted in 18 guilty pleas in Maine, Virginia and South Carolina.  The defendants are responsible collectively for the illegally trafficking of more than $4.5 million worth of elvers. William Sheldon, Timothy Lewis, and Charles Good joined the list on Thursday, pleading guilty before a federal judge in Portland, Maine, to violations of the Lacey Act. click here to read the story 14:53

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

MSA Reauthorization – Fishing rule reforms debated on Capitol Hill

How large of a role should the federal government have in regulating fishing fleets? Republicans and Democrats on the House Committee on Natural Resources discussed this question Tuesday in Washington, D.C., as part of renewed efforts to reauthorize and potentially amend a 40-year-old law that works to prevent overfishing and provide aid to fishing fleets.,, Several changes to the law have been made since 1996, such as setting annual catch limits and a 10-year timeline to rebuild overfished or depleted fish stocks. Republican committee members such as Alaska Rep. Don Young said these changes have taken a one-size-fits-all approach rather than provide more flexibility for regional fishery management councils to manage their own fisheries. click here to read the story 09:47

Watch Legislative Hearing on 4 Fishery Bills – click here for video

SAFMC – Officials OK red snapper fall season

Federal fishery officials approved a plan Monday to allow Southeastern anglers to harvest red snapper in the Atlantic Ocean later this fall, which would be the first open season for the popular game fish since 2014. Under the plan, the season would last six to 12 days spread out over several three-day weekends and would begin at the end of October. The decision must be approved by NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency that oversees all fishing regulations in federal waters. If the agency approves the decision, it will set the exact number of days the season will last and when it will start. The decision also opens red snapper to commercial fishing, although boats will be limited to just 75 pounds of fish per trip. click here to read the story 19:12

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

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in Charleston September  25-29, 2017

The public is invited to attend the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to be held at the Town & Country Inn, 2008 Savannah Highway, Charleston, S.C. Complete (revised) Agenda Click here for details Webinar Registration: Listen Live, Click here To visit the SAFMC click here 13:59

Menhaden battle once again pits Virginia against Northern states

Five years ago, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission cut the menhaden harvest by 20 percent, forcing the largest employer in the rural tip of the Northern Neck, Omega Protein, to lay off workers and decommission a ship.,, Since then, ASMFC, which manages fisheries from Maine to Florida, changed its method of assessment and says stocks are now healthy. It began easing catch limits to where the quota is now only about 6 percent short of the 212,000 metric tons it once was. Omega, which catches a half-billion fish each year, replaced two of its seven ships this year with larger, more efficient ships and rehired some of its employees. But the company sees a new problem. click here to read the story 11:27

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