Tag Archives: Florida

Commercial fishermen furious NOAA rejected DeSantis’ fishery disaster request

Are bad policies and poorly written federal statutes to blame? Or does it boil down to politics? That depends on who you ask. But, commercial fishermen across the state are sounding the alarm about the future of the commercial fishing industry and whether seafood that comes fresh from Florida can survive. “This industry is really on the verge of being gone,” Casey Streeter said. “We are out on our own, and there is no one coming to help us,” Streeter said. “And with this denial that we just received, you know, I don’t want to call it a death sentence to our progress and move forward, but I mean, it sets us back in a way that’s going to be pretty hard to overcome, for my particular situation, and the other fishermen in the area. >click to read< 08:50

Fishermen join disaster response effort

It took 10 years for Casey Streeter to build his fishing business, but it took just 10 hours for it all to be washed away. When Hurricane Ian hit Florida last September, local Pine Island fisherman Streeter lost nearly everything. But everything changed when Streeter got a personal call from AshBritt’s founder Randy Perkins to join him in recovery efforts. That’s why it was special for Streeter to join Congressman Byron Donalds to experience AshBritt’s coordinated debris removal work in action.  >click to read< 11:33

Coast Guard rescues 3 from sunken longliner off Dry Tortugas National Park

A Coast Guard Air Station Miami MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew rescued three fishermen, Sunday, after their fishing vessel sank near Dry Tortugas National Park. The Dolphin helicopter crew arrived on scene at approximately 2 p.m., hoisted the men into the aircraft and transferred them to Key West International Airport in good health. A good Samaritan contacted Coast Guard Sector Key West watchstanders at approximately 8 a.m. reporting the 45-foot longliner, F/V Mrs. Sandy, was taking on water with three crew members aboard.  Sector Key West watchstanders used Mrs. Sandy’s emergency indicating radio beacon position to locate the vessel. 3 Photos, >click to read< 19:49

UPDATE: Coast Guard rescues 2 from a life raft near Cape San Blas, Florida

The Coast Guard rescued two overdue fishermen from a life raft near Cape San Blas, Florida, Tuesday. At 3:21 p.m., the aircrew of a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules located a life raft with the two missing fishermen aboard. The aircrew then vectored in the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Dolphin which embarked the fishermen and transported them to awaiting emergency medical personnel. The fishermen were last reported to be in stable condition. Coast Guard Sector Mobile watchstanders received the initial call Monday evening from the vessel owner stating his vessel, F/V Capt Ken-Wil, was without power and taking on water. >click to read< 07:25

Coast Guard searching for overdue shrimp trawler with 2 people onboard near Cape San Blas, Florida

The Coast Guard is searching Tuesday for an overdue vessel with two people aboard near Cape San Blas, Florida.  Missing is Michael Redman and Jimmy Mallory. There is currently no description available for the mariners. The Coast Guard began searching Monday evening after Coast Guard Sector Mobile watchstanders received a phone call from the owner of the 54-foot shrimp trawler F/V Capt. Ken-Wil who reported his vessel disabled and without power with two people aboard. 2 photos, >click to read< 17:48

$9.6 million to get all 36 shrimp boats back in the water in less than 6 months from Hurricane Ian

All the captains we spoke with after Hurricane Ian thought this whole process of getting the boats back into the water would take possibly years but it took less than 6 months and that’s because of all of the extensive hard work day in and day out to try to get our shrimping industry back. This comes as The Florida Division of Emergency Management says they’ve been able to refloat the 36 shrimping boats and it cost $9.6 million dollars to get done. Some boats are already back out shrimping while others according to a few of the shrimp boat managers had to be taken to other states because of the lack of docks in the area that Hurricane Ian tore apart. Video, >click to read< 10:37

No federal fishing disaster decision

FEMA has given out more than five billion dollars to help people recover from Hurricane Ian, but none of that money has gone specifically to the fishing industry. Last week the federal government sent a letter saying “It still hasn’t decided if it’s going to declare a federal fishery disaster.” Ian devastated the fishing industry in southwest Florida. Fort Myers Beach the shrimping fleet went from 50 vessels to just 3 after the storm. On Pine Island, 80 percent of fish houses suffered damage. Read the letter, video, >click to read< 10:06

Last shrimp boat tossed ashore by Hurricane Ian on Fort Myers Beach back in the water

A crew from Resolve Marine works at Gulf Cove Trailer Park on San Carlos Island on Fort Myers Beach to get the shrimp boat, the F/V Rip Tide back in the water on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. It was the last shrimp boat tossed ashore by Hurricane Ian to get back in the water. Almost all of the shrimp boats in the Fort Myers Beach fleet were washed ashore by the category 4 hurricane. 27 boats were put back in the water by Resolve Marine. Six were damaged beyond repair. photos, >click to read<, Watch a time lapse video of the last shrimp boat tossed ashore by Hurricane Ian go in the water. >click to watch< 12:41

Fish exporter pleads guilty to mislabeling Florida spiny lobster sold to China

The company, Aifa Seafood Inc., based in Florida City, faces a sentence of five years probation and a fine up to $500,000. A judge could sentence its president, 57-year-old Jiu Fa Chen, of Parkland, to up to five years in federal prison and order him to pay a fine of up to $250,000 during his scheduled May 23 hearing in Miami. According to an Oct. 5, 2022, grand jury indictment, from May 16, 2019, to Aug. 3, 2019, the company bought about 5,900 pounds of lobster from a company in Port Au Prince, Haiti, and turned around and exported it to customers in China with the label, “Florida Spiny Lobster, Product of the USA.” >click to read< 15:32

The Reason Rock Shrimp Were Almost Never Brought to Market

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. That simple saying sums up the story of how a Florida boat builder-turned-fisherman came to introduce the world to rock shrimp. It’s difficult to imagine now, but back in the 1970s, shrimp trawlers hauling catch off the southeastern coast of the U.S. routinely dismissed a particular variety of shrimp as not worth the effort. In 1968, Thompson debuted his state-of-the-art fiberglass shrimp trawler, the R.C. Brent Jr., to little acclaim. Unfortunately, traditional shrimpers at the time weren’t ready to embrace Thompson’s fiberglass technology. With a growing family to support and boat sales on the wane, Thompson set out to prove the superiority of his fiberglass design — by going fishing. >click to read< 09:10

SWFL shrimp company pushing on despite seafood industry’s struggles

Shrimpers tell us it’s been an excellent year for pink shrimp, despite Southwest Florida’s struggling seafood industry. We checked in with Erickson & Jensen Seafood, the only shrimp company with boats in the water right now on Fort Myers Beach. With four boats in the water, E&J has been able to bring back about a fourth of their workers. “We’re desperately trying to sell as much as we can wherever we can,” said Grant Erickson, owner of Erickson & Jensen. “It’s very expensive. It’s very devastating. We’ve got problems at all ends in this business.” Video, >click to read< 14:14

How two islands could shape Florida’s post-Ian recovery

Tanned bare feet sticking out from a pair of loose-fitting blue Dickies, Joey Burnsed looks every bit the islander. The past few months, however, have shown another side of the lifestyle. His usually packed charter fishing schedule blew away with Hurricane Ian. But like a true islander, he’s taken it in stride, coping with whatever challenges the day throws his way. Recently, that’s meant a new gig: steering his skiff to remote mangrove thickets on Pine Island, Florida, so cleanup crews can clear storm debris. You could call that the Pine Island way – independent, resourceful, and a little stubborn. To some, the island is a modern-day link to “Old Florida,” a retreat for raconteurs, crabbers, artists, the funky and the frivolous. >click to read< 12:47

Shrimp and Grit: Fighting to save the Fort Myers Beach shrimping fleet after Ian’s devastation

The Perseverance sunk. The Penny V was crushed. The Pleiades cracked in half. Aces & Eights had five holes. The Babe took a beating. The Capt. Ryan was boxed in. The Kayden Nicole tipped. Boats were scattered along the San Carlos Island waterfront in clusters. Six boats were flung into bushes, sea grape trees and dead mangroves not far from Trico Shrimp Company, the other major shrimp player on the waterfront. Ten floated maybe a quarter mile west, up into an RV park and a boatyard. Most of these boats were old before Ian arrived. They had been built to last one decade but stretched for five, held together with the glue of ingenuity, by owners and mechanics unwilling to concede to those who called it a dying industry. Right after Ian, just one boat was fit for sea. It was the F/V Malolo, the namesake of the boat Anna’s great-grandfather had first brought to Fort Myers. Photos, >click to read< 21:30

One by one, shrimp boats are being lifted back into the water on San Carlos Island

They’re lifting a 290,000-pound boat after Hurricane Ian tossed it around and brought it on land. Scott Schofield knows a thing or two about watching the big shrimp boats being lifted and removed because he’s been out here watching, and recording, every move of these boats. Meticulous is one way to describe it. Painstaking is another. The process takes anywhere from a day and a half to two days. For boats like F/V Captain Eddie 99, it’ll be the full two days. Video, >click to read< 11:34

Hurricane Ian remains lingering threat to SWFL’s commercial fishing industry

Florida’s Gulf Coast has experienced many hurricanes, but Ian wasn’t like anything local commercial fishermen had seen before. “I don’t think any of these storms in other places have wiped out all the infrastructure as they did for us,” Streeter says. “In Lee County, we definitely lost three of the deep-water working waterfronts, and on the island, we lost three out of the four fish houses that were executing fisheries. So, we took a major hit. It’s going to be really difficult to get these fisheries back online as they were until we get that infrastructure, until we get docks in and until we get refrigeration.” “We’re in a hard spot right now and we definitely need some help from our governor. We definitely need some congressional federal help for our fisheries.” photos, >click to read< 08:38

Working Shrimp Boat Returns to Key West Harbor After 30 Year Absence 

Ask anyone who remembers Key West in the 1960s what the Historic Seaport looked like back then, when it was still called Key West Bight and was still a rather rough neighborhood of hard-working, hard-partying, and commercial shrimp boats. But those days have long been gone,,, Daniel Smith and James Phelps, who own the F/V Miss Key West shrimp boat and Southeastern Shrimp & Seafood Co., are proud to say they aren’t just a part of Key West history but are making history by bringing back an industry that was as quintessentially Key West as sponging, wrecking, and now, tourism. F/V Miss Key West late last month offloaded for the first time in 30 years, sacks of locally caught Key West pink shrimp onto the docks at the Key West Historic Seaport. Photos, >click to read< 15:39

Two shark divers freed 19 sharks from a commercial longline. They’re facing five years in prison

The men, boat captain John R. Moore Jr., 56, and mate Tanner Mansell, 29, gathered up the three miles of line and freed 19 sharks and a Goliath grouper, a state-protected species. The three-hour effort was done with the help of their charter passengers, telling them the line was an abandoned “ghost set” of line, U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutors said. Two years later, a grand jury indicted Moore and Mansell of theft of commercial fishing gear in federal waters. A jury convicted the men last week, and they now face five years each in federal prison. The line, prosecutors said, belonged to a commercial fishing operator that was licensed to catch all the species of shark that were hooked that day.  >click to read< 07:48

Crews hope to return pile of shrimp boats on Fort Myers Beach to water within 70 days

“Boats that are all tangled up and the ones that we started on are the ones that are along the edges of the water,” Vice President of Beyel Brothers, Steven Beyel said. So far, of the roughly 45 boats on land, three have returned to the water. And they are mostly in good shape. “We were able to get ours back in the water yesterday afternoon,” James Drigger said. Drigger’s boat is the ‘Miz Shirley’. “Words can’t even explain how thankful we are,” he said.Video, >click to read< 09:34

Video: Coast Guard medevacs commercial fisherman 40 miles northwest of Johns Pass, Florida

The Coast Guard medevaced a 65-year-old man from a commercial fishing vessel 40 miles northwest of Johns Pass, Florida, Monday. A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew responded and safely transported the man to Tampa General Hospital in stable condition. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg watchstanders received a VHF marine radio call on channel 16 at approximately 2:23 p.m. from the fishing vessel F/V Rachel Nicole, stating the captain was suffering from abdominal pain. A sister vessel met the Rachel Nicole and escorted the rest of the crew back to port. “Having an VHF-FM radio on board allowed us to get our resources to the correct location within ample time,” said pilot Lt. Weston Dodson. >Video< -USCG- U.S. Coast Guard 7th District PA Detachment Tampa Bay

Rock the Shrimpers Relief Benefit Sunday

Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches will be hosting a “Rock the Shrimpers Relief Benefit” on Sunday at Torched Bar & Grill in Cape Coral. The concert will benefit the Fort Myers Beach shrimping industry, with the proceeds going delivered to Trico Shrimp Company, Erickson & Jenson Shrimp Company “and independent shrimpers on Fort Myers Beach equally depending on the number of boats they own,” Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches President Steven Ray McDonald said.  >click to read, with schedule< 17:24

Sunday benefit for Fort Myers Beach shrimpers hard hit by Hurricane Ian – Only two of the 40-plus boats registered to Fort Myers Beach have been capable of fishing since September when Hurricane Ian pushed most of the fleet onshore and decimated the industry’s infrastructure, shrimpers said.  “We may not ever recover from this,” said shrimper Blaine Green, a few weeks after the storm. “It could all go away. And it wouldn’t surprise me but I hope it doesn’t.” Photos, Video, >click to read<

Estero Bay captains concerned over slow progress in stranded shrimp boat removal

Almost two months after Hurricane Ian, shrimp boat captains say not much has changed with the mangled mess of boats on Estero Bay. Approximately 50 boats are either lodged ashore or sitting at the bottom of the bay. Almost two weeks ago, a 160-foot crane was brought in to help move the boats and help them float once again. “Nothing is getting done out here. As far as I know, they have the one crane out here. This is the second boat in two weeks,” said shrimp boat Captain Roger Schmall. This week the crane finally began to refloat a second shrimp boat called “Lexi Joe”. Video, >click to read< 16:51

Nicole Expected to Become Hurricane Wednesday Before Impacting Florida’s East Coast

Tropical Storm Nicole is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday as it moves toward the east coast of Florida, forecasters said. Nicole had maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour and was moving west-southwest at 13 mph about 270 miles east of West Palm Beach, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Nicole is forecast to be at hurricane intensity by Wednesday or Wednesday night while it is moving near or over the northwestern Bahamas, the hurricane center said. >click to read< 06:37

Man, tired of living in U.S., steals boat to go back to Cuba, gets arrested on way

A 30-year-old Miami man was jailed in the Florida Keys after authorities say his plan to steal a commercial fishing boat in order to head back to Cuba hit a serious snag Monday. According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, a Marathon man reported that his 40-foot fishing boat was stolen that morning and said one of his former employees, Cristian Torres Perez, had recently quit “and had been talking about returning to Cuba as he disliked living in the U.S.” >click to read< 12:10

Still reeling from Ian, Florida shrimpers are desperate to get back on the water

Jimmy Driggers, 85, got into the fishing business when he was just 13 years old. He’s a shrimper in Fort Myers, Fla. “I was a mullet fisherman, [a] commercial fisherman in my younger days,” he said. Driggers walks with a prosthetic leg from an injury he sustained on his boat about a decade ago. It’s decorated with a sea lighthouse. He owns one shrimping boat the F/V Miz Shirley named after his wife. It can carry 50,000 pounds of shrimp. Driggers said the industry has been hurting for decades, and that he was paid more back in the 1980’s than he is today. Fuel prices have skyrocketed. Then came Hurricane Ian. It pushed The Miz Shirley half onto a seawall and half was left in the water –- unusable. >click to read< 07:28

Removal of shrimp boats begins near Fort Myers Beach

It was a bittersweet moment for shrimpers who could finally see just how badly they were damaged. The first boat, the Double E, was finally lifted after being thrown onto its side during Hurricane Ian. Wayne Romano has worked on the Double E for 18 years. “It gives me promise that maybe soon we will be back to work,” Romano said. Seeing the boat like this is heartbreaking for him. And when he got onboard to get his clothes, it made him seasick for the first time in his life. “I only made it four foot inside that boat and I had to lay down because it throws, it throws your whole equilibrium off and everything,” Romano said. “It felt like the boat was going to flip over.” 2 Videos, >click to read< 10:22

Cranes removing misplaced boats at Fort Myers Beach

Fort Myers Beach used to be a place where you’d see happy beachgoers enjoying the sun and water. However, since Ian, when you cross the bridge, you are met with construction cranes and more. The cranes are there to pick up a lot left behind by Ian, such as boats that have been lost in the storm. That kind of help cannot come fast enough, especially to those who need them for work. Fishermen have to come up with the money themselves to get the proper equipment to lift the materials needed back in the water. Although the boats aren’t even the biggest thing that needs saving, the entire fishing industry in Southwest Florida needs help. Video, >click to read< 21:50

Large Claws a Good Sign for Stone Crab Season

“My grandfather started Kirk Fish Company in the late 1940s, early 1950s, we’re not exactly sure when,” Kelly Kirk said. “My dad grew up here on the docks. I grew up here on the docks. It’s been in the family since then. The season seems to be starting out decent. It’s so hard to tell this early on. It usually takes a solid two weeks before we can judge what the season will look like and what the catch will be. But from what I’m hearing from the crabbers locally, and up and down the coast, the crabs are healthy, they’re strong. I’m optimistic that it’s going to be a strong season.” One sign of a good stone crab season, according to Kirk, is the size of the claws. “It’s a good sign when you see a lot of big ones,” Kirk said. “We’re seeing quite a few big ones already. >click to read< 13:44

The fight to protect right whale, lobsters roils Maine politics

In a state where few things matter more than lobster, it’s no surprise that Mainers are getting a hefty portion of crustacean politics as part of the campaigning for the 2022 midterm elections. What is surprising, however, is the high level of anger and frustration pointed squarely at Washington regulators, with many arguing that NOAA’s new rules are unfair and will hit the prized lobster industry far too hard. Rule backers say they’ll help protect a dwindling population of whales that’s at grave risk from fishing gear. “The men and women who make up Maine’s iconic lobster fishery are facing a terrible crisis, a crisis not of their making, a crisis that is due to this administration’s onerous regulations,” photos, >click to read< 12:11

Rebuild Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Industry – A fundraiser by Anna Erickson

Hi, we’re here with Erickson & Jensen. Looking for initial funds to rebuild the shrimp industry. The issues is that it’s not only a business but a community. Rebuilding includes getting the shrimp boats back in the water, fixing the docks, rebuilding the supply shop, repair the unloading area most of all restoring humanity within our shrimp family. >Click to read<, and please donate if you can. Thank you. 11:32

Mystery of the disappearing mahi-mahi divides fishermen

At a recent meeting of federal regulators in the Florida Keys, local fishermen raised the alarm that one of the most popular fish they go after – the dolphinfish or mahi-mahi – is fast disappearing from local waters. But industry regulators and the commercial fishing boats, say the plight of the charter boats is more complicated than that. Commercial “long line” fishing is not permitted off the Florida coast and federal regulations allocate the vast majority of the 24.5 million pounds of mahi-mahi allowed annually to the charter boats and their recreational rod-and-reel customers. They blame the larger commercial fishing vessels ,,, Photos, >click to read< 17:19