Get Updates! and Search
No RSS feeds have been linked to this section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entries in Gulf of Mexico (35)

Thursday
May282015

Future of Saltwater Fishing Is at Stake; Speak Up Now to Ensure Access

Next week, marine fisheries management will be the focus of Congress. Don’t assume your representative will cast his or her vote in favor of recreational fishing – ask him/her to do so today. 

Bill H.R. 1335 will be voted on by the entire U.S. House of Representatives. Its intent is to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act – the law that governs how our marine fisheries are managed. Proper management equals healthy fisheries – and that means more days on the water for you and your family. 

H.R. 1335 includes several provisions to improve fishing’s future. Specifically, it would improve recreational fishing data collection, ensure marine fisheries are fairly allocated and stop unnecessary closures based on arbitrary limits. 

In addition, several amendments that will further improve the bill will also be considered.  

Tell your Representative to Vote ‘yes’ on these amendments, and ‘yes’ on H.R. 1335! Go here to send your message.

Here's why your support is needed:

Saltwater recreational fishing has a $70 billion impact on our nation's economy, supporting 454,000 jobs. However, despite the tremendous economic, social and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has never fully addressed the needs of the nation's 11 million saltwater anglers. H.R. 1335 would help to turn the tide, and would be further improved by the inclusion of amendments to be considered on the House floor.

H.R. 1335 advances saltwater recreational fisheries management.  The current bill would benefit recreational fishing by:
  • Prompting a transparent and science-based review of fishery allocations in the southeast.
  • Providing limited exceptions for establishing annual catch limits to help ensure important fisheries aren't unnecessarily closed.
  • Improving recreational data collection through greater involvement of the states.
The following three amendments are strongly supported by the recreational fishing community:
  • An amendment by Rep. Wittman (R-Va.) that gives NOAA Fisheries the authority to implement management practices better tailored to the nature of recreational fishing.
  • An amendment by Rep. Graves (R-La.) to transfer management of Gulf of Mexico red snapper to the five Gulf states, which are capable of sustainably managing this fishery while allowing for reasonable public access.
  • An amendment by Rep. Young (R-Alaska) that will improve fisheries science by better incorporating data collected by anglers into management.

 

 

Wednesday
Apr152015

Oil Spill's Impacts to Gulf Fish, Wildlife Revealed in NWF Report

Photos by Robert Montgomery

Five years following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, National Wildlife Federation  (NWF) scientists have compiled a report detailing how 20 types of fish and wildlife were impacted by the pollution that continued for 87 days.

NWF said, “The full extent of the spill’s impact may take years or even decades to unfold , but Five Years & Counting: Gulf Wildlife in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster examines what the science tells us so far.”

The report does not suggest that fishing is not good or that it will not continue to be so.

Following are updates on two species:

The mahi-mahi, also known as dorado, is an economically important species in the northern Gulf.

Like many fish, mahi-mahi produce fertilized eggs that float in the upper layers of the water column. Mahi-mahi were spawning at the time of the oil spill and it is therefore likely that their eggs and larvae were exposed to oil during 2010.

Larval or juvenile exposure to a chemical in oil from the Deepwater Horizon has been shown to cause significant developmental impacts in a number of fish species. Similar research in mahi-mahi corroborates these findings. Embryonic or juvenile mahi-mahi briefly exposed to Deepwater Horizon oil were later unable to swim as fast as unexposed fish. The concentrations of oil in the study were designed to mimic conditions in affected areas of the Gulf.

This could translate into increased mortality, as slower fish would likely be less able to catch prey or avoid predators.

These studies could help explain “crude oil toxicity syndrome,” which has been observed in a number of fish species, across both fresh and saltwater habitats.

Additional research has recently been funded that will look further into impacts in redfish and mahi-mahi.

White and brown pelicans in Texas' Galveston Bay

American white pelicans nest in colonies of several hundred pairs on islands in remote inland lakes in North America, and they winter on the Pacific and Gulf Coasts.

Most white pelicans were in their northern breeding grounds at the time of the spill.

Two years after the spill, however, researchers found evidence of oil and dispersant in the eggs of white pelicans nesting in Minnesota. Scientists made this discovery at Marsh Lake, which is home to the largest colony of white pelicans in North America.

Petroleum compounds were present in 90 percent of the first batch of eggs tested. Nearly 80 percent contained the chemical dispersant used during the Gulf oil spill. White pelicans could have been contaminated while wintering in the Gulf, either through direct contact with remaining oil and dispersant or by eating contaminated fish.

Long-term increases in breeding pairs in Minnesota have occurred since 2004, but from 2011-2012 the breeding population has essentially stabilized.

Scientists from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are continuing to investigate the impacts of these compounds, which have been known to cause cancer and birth defects and to disrupt embryo development in other species.

Contaminated eggs have been found in two other states as well. In 2012, staff at the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge collected eggs that failed to hatch from pelican colonies in the Iowa and Illinois portions of the refuge.

Population declines in migratory shorebirds and reduced breeding productivity may have an impact on ecosystems outside the Gulf region. Therefore it is important to link wintering and breeding locations for migrant species in order to fully understand the impacts of the Gulf oil disaster.

Wednesday
Mar182015

States Agree on Plan to Manage Gulf Red Snapper Fishery

In a move long-awaited by the recreational fishing and boating community, the directors of the state fish and wildlife agencies from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have agreed on state-based management of Gulf of Mexico red snapper, which in recent years has experienced increasing privatization of this public resource and decreasing recreational fishing opportunities.

 The announcement was greeted with strong enthusiasm from the recreational fishing and boating community, which has supported greater state control of Gulf red snapper.

 “Throughout the country, states have proven to be highly successful at fish and wildlife management in a way that conserves natural resources while allowing for reasonable public access,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “The Gulf states are among the nation’s leaders in marine fisheries management, which is why we have continued to look to them as the vehicle for managing Gulf red snapper going forward to get us out of the current mess created by federal mismanagement.”

 Gulf of Mexico red snapper is presently managed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, under the National Marine Fisheries Service. The states’ agreement is predicated on Congress transferring management authority away from the Councils.

 “Coordinated management among the states is the only solution to an unaccountable federal system of fisheries management,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane. “Faced with an untenable situation, the states have risen to the challenge and collectively identified a clear path to a more balanced fishery.”

 Under this management structure, each state would have authority to manage red snapper out to 200 miles off its coastline. Each state would be responsible for developing and implementing a red snapper management plan for its waters, which would be approved by the rest of the states.

 “We have long pushed for the states to take over Gulf red snapper, but until now, we haven’t had a detailed plan for what state-based management would look like,” said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. “Under this approach, we are confident that management outcomes will begin to align with the health of the resource and anglers’ access to it.”

“Gulf red snapper is incredibly important to the economy of coastal communities throughout the Gulf of Mexico region, and attracts anglers from all across the country,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “It’s abundantly clear that the states are best equipped to manage this valuable fishery. It’s time we give them that opportunity.”

Thursday
Oct302014

ASA, RFA Oppose 'Sector Separation' for Red Snapper Fishery

Not surprisingly, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) also are critical of Amendment 40, which created “sector separation” in the recreational segment of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. (For more about this issue, see post below this one.) 

From ASA:

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is strongly opposed to sector separation and is deeply troubled that this poorly conceived and detrimental plan was passed by the Gulf Council.

In its 2013 position paper on sector separation, ASA urged federal fishery managers to remove saltwater recreational sector separation from all management plan discussions. ASA believes that sector separation will create serious conflicts between private anglers and charter/for-hire captains, and further diminish recreational fishing opportunities for red snapper.

“While we understand the charter/for-hire position, we in the tackle industry don’t see Amendment 40 as being in the best interests of the entire recreational fishing community,” said Gary Zurn, Big Rock Sports SVP Industry Relations. “The economic impacts of sector separation have not been clearly determined, but we know it will have a significant financial impact on the coastal communities and businesses throughout the Gulf region that support recreational fishing.”

From RFA:

President Obama has made it very clear that his "policies are on the ballot" in Tuesday's election - coastal fishermen should understand by now that those policies include blanket marine reserves, privatized fish stock, recreational catch shares, and sector separation.

Despite heavy opposition from individual saltwater anglers, local tackle shops, marinas, most of the for-hire sector captains in the United States, tackle shops, the governors of the coastal states and nearly every standing member of the U.S. Congress, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Gulf Council) voted to divide the recreational fishing community into pieces over the next three years.

In a 10-7 vote, the appointed fisheries managers, led by NOAA Fisheries' regional administrator Dr. Roy Crabtree, approved a proposal to split the Gulf recreational red snapper fishery between charter/for hire anglers and private recreational anglers. The so-called "sector separation" measure approved by the Gulf Council will take the entire recreational quota of red snapper and split it into pieces, with the for-hire sector getting their own share of the quota and private individual anglers getting the rest.

Strangely of course, the recreational for-hire sector caters to individual anglers who book charters or climb aboard head boats to fish for red snapper, making the entire sector separation debate more about divisiveness and less about fixing the problems with federal fisheries management. The new proposal essentially privatizes more of the red snapper stock by stealing open public access away from anglers.

Wednesday
Sep172014

Rubio Fisheries Bill Praised by Saltwater Community

Representatives of the nation’s 11 million saltwater anglers and the industries they support, which collectively have a $70 billion annual economic impact, commended Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for his work on the Florida Fisheries Improvement Act, introduced today.

The bill creates a strong base to ensure that the recreational fishing and boating community’s priorities are addressed during reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act, the overarching law managing the nation’s saltwater fisheries.

“Sen. Rubio worked closely with our community to understand our needs and concerns,” noted Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “We know it will take a bi-partisan commitment to enact this into law, and we have been equally impressed with the work of Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) to include our priorities in his draft Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act reauthorization.”

Rubio said, “Florida’s fisheries deeply impact the economic well-being of our state, as well as many Floridians whose way of life depends on them. But our fisheries are also a national treasure that feed Americans across the country, provide jobs across the food industry chain, and have become a favorite pastime for millions who provide direct and indirect benefits to our local, state and national economies.

 “This legislation ensures necessary improvements to management and data collection are made to fully optimize our fisheries and help advance Florida’s interests when it comes time to amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act. However, I know there is more work to be done, and I will continue to work with Floridians and my colleagues in Congress to prioritize reauthorization of the MSA in the next Congress.”

Recreational anglers’ primary priorities are identified in the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management’s report “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.”  The Commission, headed by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and Maverick Boats President Scott Deal, identifies six key policies that would achieve the Commission’s vision, including adoption of a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management; allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation, and creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines.

“We are pleased to see many of the Morris-Deal priorities addressed in Sen. Rubio’s legislation, reflecting his commitment to give long overdue attention to improving recreational fisheries management,” said Angers.

“We look forward to continuing our engagement with Sen. Rubio and Sen. Begich to incorporate several other priorities in the final version of any legislation, including a fix for the broken management of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf.”

Contributors to the work of the Commission include American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Berkley Conservation Institute, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and The Billfish Foundation