Tag Archives: Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association

Florida Fish and Wildlife Hosts Commercial Fishing Industry Summit

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hosted Florida’s first Commercial Fishing Industry Summit in St. Augustine on May 21 and 22. According to FWC, the goal of the summit was to gather representatives from the industry to help develop a vision for the commercial fishing industry for the next five to 10 years. Partnering organizations included Florida Stone Crabber’s Association, Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, Beacon Fisheries, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, Kathi’s Krabs, Organized Fishermen of Florida, Lampl Herbert Consultants, Southeastern Fisheries Association, Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, and the Southern Offshore Fishing Association, Inc. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 09:46

Commercial Lobster Season off to a Good Start as Keys Fishermen Deal with Increased Materials and Gas Prices

The Upper Keys boats have been “killing it,” with lobsters spilling out of containers onto decks, crews have been coming back to the docks earlier in the day due to lack of storage on the boats. However, in the Middle and Lower Keys, less product is being found. But this year, no matter how many “bugs” are hauled in, the chatter among all the boats is that overhead is biting into profits and thank goodness, the Chinese are buying. “The harvest is OK. Not fantastic, but it’s good,” George Niles told Keys Weekly. He has been fishing out of Stock Island for 50 years. “But we’re getting two dollars less per pound than this time last year. Traps are $50 to $60 apiece, compared to $35 three years ago. And fuel is $2 more than when Biden was elected. And that’s pure profit.” >click to read< 08:43

CARES Act Stimulus: Funding process for Florida Keys fishermen slowly unfolds

Both commercial and for-hire fishermen in the Florida Keys hit hard by the economic shutdown spurred by the novel coronavirus may apply to receive a portion of $23.6 million allocated to the state through the CARES Act Stimulus. Of the $300 million slugged for federal fisheries’ assistance, Florida is to receive about 12.7%, or the fourth largest share behind Alaska, Washington and Massachusetts. While Capt. Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, says the Keys fisheries have been slighted, he remains optimistic about the upcoming lobster season. NOAA will administer the funds through the interstate marine fisheries arms. For here, that’s the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which will, in turn, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to identify and establish a plan for fishermen to apply for funds. >click to read< 11:44

First a hurricane, then an algae bloom. Now Keys fishermen try to weather the coronavirus pandemic

This day’s haul was a good catch — hundreds of claws ranging in size from large to “colossal.” But this was among the last trips the crew of the Risky Business II will make this season to harvest the Florida delicacy. With restaurants mostly closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Piton and most other Keys commercial anglers are calling it an early season, which is scheduled to end May 10. Piton, 54, has been in the lobster and crab business for nearly 40 years and is among the most successful operators in the Keys. He said he’ll be able to weather the pandemic, but he feels for the many other commercial anglers who won’t. video, >click to read< 10:37

Coronavirus: Florida Keys Spiny Lobster Fishing Industry Hit Hard

Spiny lobster is Florida’s most valuable seafood. But the fishermen in the Keys were already having a lousy year. Then came the coronavirus. “The price crashed $4 in a day,” said George Niles, who fishes out of Stock Island. Bill Kelly from the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association said the price went from about $10.50 a pound off the boat to $6. >click to read< 19:22

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

Florida lobster fishermen testy on trade

Just as they prepare for a crucial harvest in the wake of Hurricane Irma, lobster fishermen in the Florida Keys fear a trade war with China could undermine storm recovery in the island chain. Florida’s nearly eight-month commercial spiny lobster fishing season opens Monday. Keys fishermen had hoped the harvest would help them recoup losses from last September’s hurricane, which made landfall in the Keys with 130 mph winds.,, “Hopefully the tariffs will get figured out because you can’t run your boat and not make money, especially after a hurricane year when you’ve lost so much,” Piton said in a recent interview outside his Key Largo home, where he docks his boat, “Risky Business II.” >click to read<12:49

Keys fishermen talk about traps to stop the lionfish invasion

Lionfish are the scourge of the Florida Keys seas. Since the early 2000s, they’ve been invading local waters, devouring everything in sight.,,, It’s legal to net them, even spear them where it’s allowed.,,  But the simplest, most effective method for removing lionfish is to catch them in existing lobster and stone crab traps.,, The Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association is tackling the lionfish invasion from another angle — an exempted fishing permit issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for a pilot project. >click to read< 18:53

“We live and die by stock assessments,” – Fishermen seek more responsive regulations

“We live and die by stock assessments,” said Jimmy Hull, a commercial fisherman from Ormond Beach, Fla. His statement during an informal question-and-answer period held by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is part of an overall grievance a significant number of fishermen have with the fishery management process — that it’s not responsive to current conditions in fish stocks, and instead responding to conditions months or years earlier. >click to read< 08:46

Florida commercial fishermen could get $200 million in aid

Florida’s commercial fisheries, hit hard by Hurricane Irma, should pull in a $200 million boost from the two-year federal budget passed last week. The $200 million will be included as funding for the “catastrophic regional fishery disaster for Florida” in the proposed $300 billion increase in the federal budget, Florida U.S. senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio announced. Part of that federal money could go toward ongoing trap-recovery efforts, Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association executive director Bill Kelly said Monday. >click to read< 19:29 

Lobster harvest takes a hit – Numbers starting to normalize after down season

The 2017-18 lobster season could produce half the expected harvest because of Hurricane Irma, and stone crab numbers are likely to suffer as well. “Harvest levels are returning to normal,” says Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association Executive Director Billy Kelly, but estimates that commercial lobster fisherman lost “six to eight weeks of their best production” to the storm. In total, the 2017-2018 season could yield 2-1/2 million pounds or less of lobster, an estimate Kelly says is half the expected amount. For stone crab numbers,,, >click here to read< 12:38

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

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

Florida Keys commercial lobster fleet prepares for Saturday’s opening

lobster-fireworks-Aug3Hopes are high for high prices and calm seas as the Florida Keys commercial lobster fleet prepares for Saturday’s opening of the regular crawfish season. “Based on the level of [juvenile lobster] recruitment we’ve seen, we expect another outstanding season,” Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, said Tuesday. Last year, Key commercial lobster trappers and divers collected about 5.2 million pounds of lobster, which accounts for 90 percent of Florida’s statewide lobster harvest. “Lobster is the largest [commercial fishing] cash crop in the Keys, and the largest in the state of Florida,” Kelly said. “Every season, our biggest issue facing lobster and stone-crab trap fishermen is tropical storms and hurricanes that displace and destroy gear and disrupt the normal migratory pattern of lobster,” Kelly said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.” Read the story here 07:55

Seminar in Marathon Fla. looks at spiny lobster research

Spiny lobsterSome top experts on spiny lobster will meet Wednesday in Marathon to discuss the latest research on the crustacean, which is the top-grossing marine species in the Florida Keys generating $70 million a year to the local economy. The Keys waters account for nearly 90 percent of the spiny lobster harvest in the United States. A robust Asian market and a steady catch has made spiny lobster fishery the most lucrative in the Keys. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hosting the all-day seminar Wednesday as a way to put out the latest research on spiny lobster to the local commercial fishermen and to the public, FWC lobster biologist Tom Matthews said. Bill Kelly, the executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, said there is a need for new science on the fishery, as the current science used to make regulations is “outdated and goes back to the 1990s.” Read the story here 11:57

Congressional bills aim to kill Biscayne National Park’s protected no-fishing zone

A planned no-fishing zone in Biscayne National Park could be undone by Congress. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) this week filed a Senate bill called the Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act that puts the 16-square-mile Biscayne marine reserve in its crosshairs. Sport and commercial fishing organizations, including the CCA and the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, protested the reserve as excessive and endorsed the congressional bills intended to remove it. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission objected to closing a reef-fishing area accessible to the large South Florida boating community. Read the rest here 14:36

Lobster, crabs, shrimp and more are served up in this weekend’s Key West Seafood Festival

Florida Keys commercial fishermen and fans of fresh fish and seafood gather Jan. 16 and 17 to celebrate the island chain’s bountiful ocean harvest during the 11th annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival.Presented by the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, the family-friendly feast is set for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. the first day and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. the second at Key West’s Bayview Park at Truman Avenue and Jose Marti Drive. The menu features fresh grilled Florida spiny lobster, pick-and-peel Key West pink shrimp, stone crab claws, fried local fish,,, Read the rest here 10:55

New rules for dolphin proposed

A federal fishery council has approved a rule that could keep the open so that by the time the migrating fish makes its way to the Florida Keys, the commercial fishery will not be closed. The National Marine Fisheries Service closed down the commercial dolphin fishery in July, the height of dolphin fishing in the Keys. For the past two years, fishermen off North and South Carolina, who generally fish for tuna, have targeted dolphin heavily and the annual commercial allocation has been near run out by the time Keys fishermen start fishing for dolphin. Read the article here 15:15

Florida Keys commercial fishermen critical of proposed dolphin changes

The head of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association contends that a proposed increase to the dolphin fish allocation to the commercial fishing sector does not go far enough. Kelly proposed federal fishery managers increase the commercial catch in 5, 10 or 20 percent increases a year, depending on how much the recreational side of the fishery harvests the previous year, he said. The South Atlantic and could look at the harvest data each year and make adjustments. Read the rest here 08:17

Keys commercial fishermen hurting from mahi mahi limit

Florida Keys commercial fishermen last week renewed their appeal to federal fishery managers to allow more harvests. The commercial fishery for dolphin, an offshore fish also known as mahi mahi, closed June 30 when the annual catch limit of 1.57 million pounds was reached. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council met all last week in South Carolina. Kelly traveled up to testify. “They’re leaving millions of pounds of a highly sustainable fishery on the table,” said Bill Kelly, director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association. Read the rest here 10:49

New rules, no-fishing zone for Biscayne National Park

Commercial fishermen worry that restrictions will place pressure on other areas, particularly the Keys, said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association.  That plan, which proposes banning commercial fishing as well as increased limits on catch size and number,,, The state of Florida opposes the ban on commercial fishing in that proposal. Read the rest here 13:45

Stone-crab harvest looks healthy, prices booming

stone crab season, kevin wadlowFishermen are still pulling traps in the final two weeks of stone-crab season, but early indications suggest a step toward a return to normal harvests. “Late-season production has stepped up which could bring us close to a number in the range of a normal season,” Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, said Tuesday. Stone-crab season opens Oct. 15 and closes May 15. Last season’s commercial harvest of a reported 1.9 million pounds of claws (the only part of stone crabs harvested),,, Read the rest here 14:41

Fishermen OK with colder weather on way, as Mother Nature chills the Keys

Commercial fishermen are one group of locals who welcome the cooler, breezy weather. “A little weather is always welcome to get fish, especially spiny lobster, stone crabs and mutton snapper, moving and feeding,” said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association. “This type of weather moves fish like mutton snapper out of the back country and over to the ocean side, where they aggregate on patch reefs and along the reef line.” Read the rest here 14:32

Key West: Lobster traps limits not well received

The idea of reducing the number of spiny lobster traps as a way to ease fishing pressure on the Florida Keys’ most lucrative commercial fishery did not go over well at a meeting of state federal fishery managers Monday in Key West. The group discussed three possible actions: closing the season early; embarking on a more aggressive trap reduction program; and exempting the spiny lobster fishery from annual quotas. The proposal that received the most vocal opposition was more aggressively reducing the number of traps. Read the rest here 08:09

Dock to Dish Opens Florida’s First Community Supported Fishery

docktodishDock to Dish, the first community and restaurant supported fishery program anchored in Montauk, announced last week it would open Florida’s first ever Community Supported Fishery (CSF) in Key West in February of this year. The program is being developed in conjunction with Key West restaurateur Chris Holland and the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association. Read the rest here 14:00

Fishermen want larger limit for mackerel – Council wants Catch Shares as a condition

In order to get the increase in trip limits, the fishermen may have to go along with a fishery management practice they have long opposed — catch shares. The Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association has staunchly opposed catch shares, arguing they are running smaller mom-and-pop fishermen out of business and giving greater allocations to large commercial fleets. They also create a market for people selling their allocations to the highest bidder. Read the rest here 09:03

FWC biologists: Lobster casitas too problematic

“We’re done,” said marine salver John Coffin, who has worked with other commercial divers to legalize casitas. “I really feel betrayed by (FWC) staff. The biology is good. They didn’t want the headaches. Nobody wants the headaches. …  Read the rest here 08:30

Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association lost two of its biggest advocates in Tuesday’s elections

U.S. Reps. Joe Garcia, D-Key West, and Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, were both voted out of office. They were big supporters of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association and helped the group on many fishing issues, Executive Director Bill Kelly said. Read the rest here 07:33

Stone-crab season starts Wednesday

When it comes to claws, there could be cause for cheer: Stone-crab season opens Wednesday, with commercial fishermen seeking the legal-size claws that rank as Monroe County’s most lucrative harvest after spiny lobster. “No one ever knows for sure until the first pull of the season, but we do have some things that are looking good,” Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, said Friday. Read the rest here 17:46

New rules would ban commercial fishing, lobster mini season from Biscayne National Park

“It’s always so easy to take a swipe at fishermen whether they’re commercial or recreational,” said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association. “It’s going to have a severe socio-economic impact. We’re talking generations of fishermen — a cultural heritage.” Read more here  08:55

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/06/16/4182824/new-rules-would-ban-commercial.html#storylink=cpy