Gulf fishermen, EDF request $100 million to help fishing communities recover from oil spill

Click here to view the full letter.

As the BP-Deepwater Horizon Oil Well Disaster continues to spill massive amounts of oil into the ocean—jeopardizing the multi-billion dollar fishing, tourism and other ocean-related industries in the Gulf—EDF is partnering with Gulf fishing organizations to recommend several urgent initiatives to mitigate the devastating ecological and economic consequences for the Gulf region and beyond.

The Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance and the Gulf Fishermen’s Association joined us in signing a letter that is being distributed today to Congress and the President to provide guidance for responding to the growing crisis.

In the letter, we advocate for at least $100 million in funding for direct assistance to adversely affected commercial and recreational fishermen and fishing communities, to improve fisheries science, and to make fisheries more resilient to harm caused by human activities.

First and foremost, we urge BP and its business partners, Congress, and the Administration to ensure that all possible means are applied to regain control of the oil well, ensure that the dispersants used are the safest and most effective available, and that damages are cleaned-up as quickly as possible.

Once the spill is stopped, the short- and long-term measures below are needed to begin the long process of helping ocean resources and coastal communities recover.

Short-term: Institute a fishing community recovery program.

  • LOSS RECOVERY: Help commercial and recreational fishermen and fishing-related businesses recover lost income including commercial fishing operations, seafood dealers and retailers, charter vessels and guides, bait and tackle shops, marinas, and others harmed.
  • SEAFOOD SAFETY: Help the commercial and charter boat fishing industries implement seafood and catch traceability and verification systems to ensure that commercial fishermen and charter vessels harvest fish from waters declared safe and healthy by federal regulators.
  • PUBLIC INFORMATION: Assist the commercial and recreational fishing industries to rebuild business by providing assistance to develop a public information and media campaign to highlight the real, versus perceived, impacts of catching and consuming Gulf fish to ensure consumer confidence.
  • FISHERIES BASELINE INFORMATION: Accelerate stock assessment and data collection efforts for commercial and recreational fisheries to expand and enhance baseline data on the present status of key fisheries affected by the oil spill.

Long-term: Increase fishery and community resilience through better science and management.

  • SCIENCE AND DATA: Improve science and data collection for commercial and recreational fisheries by providing significant additional funding to measure the long-term impact of the oil spill on fish stocks and track the pace of their recovery, and engage fishing vessels in research that contributes to better fishery science and enhanced seafood safety.
  • FISHERY MANAGEMENT: Increase fishing business resilience to natural and manmade disasters by accelerating fishery management reforms that achieve compliance with fishery management goals.

Never miss a post! Subscribe to EDFish via a email or a feed reader.

Posted in Gulf of Mexico / Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

Senator Shelby Makes Right Call Requesting Gulf Fishery Disaster Designation Addressing Oil Spill

Fishing businesses across the Gulf, such as these charter boats in Alabama, are facing major economic challenges from the oil spill.

Yesterday U.S. Senator Shelby requested a Gulf of Mexico fisheries disaster declaration from the Secretary of Commerce in the face of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

EDF fully supports this action and encourages U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke to grant the request.

The Gulf coast economy is closely tied to the well-being of its oceans. The uncontrolled oil spill severely threatens ecosystems and, by extension, the Gulf’s multi-billion dollar fishing and tourism industries.

By granting Senator Shelby’s request, Secretary Locke can help provide much needed federal assistance to affected Gulf fishermen and fishing communities.

Never miss a post! Subscribe to EDFish via a email or a feed reader.

Posted in Gulf of Mexico / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

South Carolina Fisherman Wants Catch Shares, Not Closures

A recent op-ed by Chris Conklin in The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, voiced frustration over the cascading closures now hitting the Southeast. Conklin comes from a fishing family and wonders if he’ll be able to stay in the fishing industry unless catch shares are instituted. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is considering a number of options – including catch shares – to reduce fishing closures and get fishermen back on the water. 

Conklin points to the success of the red snapper catch share in the Gulf of  Mexico.  Not too long ago, Gulf red snapper fishermen were in a similar situation to fishermen in the Southeast. Now, they are now enjoying the third successful year of a catch share. They have a year-round season and dockside prices are higher. These fishermen will likely receive more fish this year because fish population rebuilding is going so well.

Even as Gulf commercial fishermen deal with the worsening oil spill, the flexibility they have to fish throughout the year lets them plan their businesses in the face of natural or man-made problems better than those not under a catch share.

Never miss a post! Subscribe to EDFish via a email or a feed reader.

Posted in Gulf of Mexico / Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

Most Fishing Unaffected By Oil Spill in Gulf So Far

The federal government has underscored what many fishermen, wholesalers, and restaurant owners have been telling us – that the oil spill has yet to impact their operations.  While everyone in the Gulf is worried about the impact of the spill, now and into the future, most fishermen across the Gulf spent this week in business-as-usual mode.  The one big exception are many shrimp fishermen in southern Louisiana who are facing severe restrictions.

We’ll have updates starting next week from the Gulf where our staff have been meeting with fishing businesses.  The good news is that seafood is still flowing across the docks and many recreational fishermen who planned to head out on local boats will still be able to go.  Definitely check with your captain before canceling a trip.

Never miss a post! Subscribe to EDFish via a email or a feed reader.

Posted in Gulf of Mexico / Tagged , , , , , | Comments are closed

New Gulf Grouper Catch Share Already Proving Good for Fish & Businesses

grouperOn Jan. 1, 18 Gulf of Mexico commercially-caught grouper and tilefish species were added to the region’s individual fishing quota (IFQ) program, a type of catch share. This newly expanded program is a big conservation victory. Now, 19 valuable Gulf fisheries are being managed under a tool proven to rebuild struggling fish stocks.

This move is good for small and large fishing businesses. A year-round fishing season is just one of many benefits.  See National Fisherman’s article on how the new IFQ program is already making a difference.

Unfortunately, grouper fishermen in the Southeast aren’t faring as well under traditional management. They’re in the middle of a four month fishing closure. This isn’t just hard on fishermen, it’s hard on local restaurants and other businesses too. Southeast fishery managers should consider catch shares to eliminate these devastating season closures and bring fish populations back to health quickly.

Finally, we want to congratulate the fishermen, Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and others who worked so hard to add grouper and tilefish to the Gulf’s IFQ. We are excited to see the progress that these fisheries will make in the coming year.

Posted in Gulf of Mexico / Tagged , , , | Read 2 Responses

New NOAA policy an economic and conservation boost for Gulf fisheries

Red snapper on scaleThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) new catch share policy, which encourages the use of catch shares to manage fisheries, is exciting news for the Gulf of Mexico’s declining fisheries and struggling fishermen.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council deserves a pat on the back for already considering catch shares for some of its fisheries, and NOAA’s new policy can help jumpstart even more progress to end overfishing in all Gulf fisheries. Ending overfishing is good for Gulf economies and will give fishermen more time on the water.

The red snapper individual fishing quota (IFQ), one type of catch share, is wrapping up its third year, and we continue to see the tangible benefits of catch shares: commercial overfishing is ending, fishing businesses are more stable, and bycatch (accidentally-caught fish that must be thrown back in the water and often die) has been significantly reduced.

Other Gulf fisheries and sectors can benefit from catch shares too: Read More »

Posted in Gulf of Mexico / Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments are closed