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Entries in Gulf of Mexico (41)


Gulf Red Snapper Fishing at Stake in Pending Lawsuit

There’s a lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans that every recreational angler ought to be following like a hawk.
The case will decide whether public wildlife resources that rightly belong to all of us will instead be funneled into fewer and fewer hands -- and whether federal waters can be effectively walled off to private recreational anglers for the advantage of a tiny group of politically influential special interests.
NOAA Fisheries calls it “Amendment 40,” but it ought to be known as “Privatization 70,” because that’s what it does: if this scheme is allowed to stand, commercial fishing and charter boats will be handed a monopoly over more than 70 percent of the Gulf red snapper fishery, while recreational anglers are forced to watch from the docks.
Dysfunctional federal management has already resulted in a 10-day red snapper season these last two summers, down from 44 days the year before.
But it’s not just recreational anglers who are being short-changed.  More than 16,000 Americans owe their jobs to bait and tackle shops alone -- and that’s not even counting the big-box stores and chain retailers.  Altogether, the independent bait shops alone generate more than $796 million annually in payroll.
A red snapper season of just one weekend a year wreaks havoc on the Gulf economy, as everything from gas stations and motels to restaurants and tackle shops feels the impact. Unfortunately, nobody from NOAA took the time to evaluate the economic aftershocks.

What’s behind Amendment 40?  A lot of clever lawyering by the Environmental Defense Fund and their shill operations in the Gulf.  The unholy alliance: 387 commercial fishing operators; a handful of charter/for-hire operators, and a bunch of professional environmental lobbyists in Washington, D.C.  Coastal Conservation Association highlights the united front standing against us.
The white hats are fighting Amendment 40 in the U.S. District Court, and the State of Louisiana has recently weighed in with its support, filing an amicus brief in support of our position. 
A lot is at stake.  Stay tuned.  

From the Coastal Conservation Association 


BP to Pay $18.7 Billion for Gulf Oil Spill

BP will pay $18.7 billion in penalties and damages for its role in the largest oil spill in U.S. history, which polluted the Gulf of Mexico five years ago.

“Today‘s settlement moves the wildlife and habitat of the Gulf Coast forward on the road to recovery. It’s time to look ahead to the future and work toward getting real, on-the-ground restoration projects done," said Steve Bender, director of Vanishing Paradise, a coalition of more than 800 sportsman and outdoors groups, organizations and businesses working on Gulf Coast and Mississippi river Delta restoration.

“Because Congress passed the RESTORE Act in 2012, 80 percent of the money BP pays as a result of the Clean Water Act penalty will be returned to the Gulf Coast for much needed restoration and to improve the region’s long-term resiliency. Repairing the ongoing damage from the oil spill is also of utmost importance going forward, and the settlement dollars BP pays through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment will help the areas devastated by the spill – including habitat that supports world-class hunting and fishing."

The Gulf Coast region is an ecological and economic driver for the entire nation, and sportsmen and women care about ensuring this national treasure is restored for future generations to enjoy. With as many as 14 million waterfowl migrating to the Gulf’s warm shores annually, and salt and freshwater fishing unlike anywhere else on the planet, we must make sure this entire region – including the endangered Mississippi River Delta – is on the path forward to long-term health and recovery. We look forward to working with federal and state officials and the RESTORE Council to make sure every dime of oil disaster money goes to meaningful, comprehensive restoration.”


Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, ongoing findings deliver truths omitted by BP’s ads: the oil disaster’s negative effects are increasingly clear, present and far from resolved.

A recent infographic depicts ongoing impacts of the Gulf oil disaster five years later. And over the past year alone, new scientific research has surfaced:

A 2014 study found evidence of a 1,250-square-mile area of oil contamination on the ocean floor around the Macondo wellhead in deep Gulf sediments.

A previous NOAA study found a large number of dead dolphins in heavily oiled places, including Barataria Bay, La.

Recent studies estimate 1,000,000 birds died as a result of being exposed to BP oil.

Modeling for a recent stock assessment projected that between 20,000 and 60,000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles died in 2010 as a result of the spill.

A 2014 study found concentrations of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) – which can cause harmful effects in many birds, fish and wildlife – in Barataria and Terrebonne marshes, which may persist for decades.

A 2012 study found that oiled marshes in Barataria Bay eroded at double the rate of non-oiled marshes.

A recent survey found that 70 percent of Americans believe BP should pay maximum fines under the Clean Water Act for its role in the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

VP has identified 19 projects from Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast that have the greatest potential to restore our coast. 


We're All in this Together for Fisheries Conservation

Bass fishing on the Sabine River. Photo by Robert Montgomery

When it comes to conservation, we're all in this together, and bass fishermen have decided it’s time to start acting that way.

That’s why B.A.S.S. is joining with other industry and angler groups to form a coalition to fight for and defend saltwater access and conservation.

Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation (BASC) was created because professional anglers noticed the need to get more involved in policy discussions and speak up for recreational fishing.

“My theory is that all water flows downstream, and it eventually reaches the ocean,” said Jared Miller, Elite Series pro. “The laws that are damaging recreational saltwater fishing could also eventually affect the freshwater part of the equation.

“It’s so important for us all to work together to protection our national fisheries and our rights to fish. Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation gives us the chance to do just that.”

BASC will center around a website by the same name. In addition to alerting anglers to issues involving access, conservation, economics, and safety, it will provide them with contact information for their members of Congress and even pre-written letters that they can sign and send. The site also will send “action alerts” from the pros so anglers will know when and how to speak out on an issue, and Dean Rojas likely will be one of those spokesmen.

“As recreational anglers, we need to make it our business to be aware of the laws and regulations that govern our fisheries,” said the Elite Series pro who has competed in 13 Bassmaster Classics. “All of us have a responsibility to push for sensible regulations that look out for recreational anglers, as well manage the commercial aspects of fishing.

But one of the biggest challenges for recreational fishermen is to come together as one voice, added Jeff Kriet, also an Elite Series competitor.“Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation gives all anglers the opportunity to represent their interests and protect their rights to fish.

“We need to protect it, we need to make our voices heard, and now is the time. If we don’t advocate now, we will begin to lose the sport we all love.”

Gene Gilliland, national conservation director for B.A.S.S., echoed that sentiment and added that marine fisheries management is at a critical crossroads right now, as Congress debates reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (M-S).

“Recreational interests have long taken a back seat to commercial fisheries so now is the time for anglers to speak up and make their voices heard,” he said.

“The Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation website makes it easy (for anglers) to keep up with the issues and take action when the call comes to contact your representatives in Congress.”

Consequently, one of the first battles for BASC will be to improve M-S. To do that, anglers must convince lawmakers of the importance of marine recreational fisheries, both in terms of popularity and economic benefits. Already the red snapper season has been reduced to just a few days a year, even though many believe that the stock is the healthiest that it has been in decades.

“The current structure of recreational offshore fishing is really limiting and one-sided,” said Bobby Lane, Elite Series pro. “What was once a great family sport has become an activity fewer and fewer anglers are choosing because they are not allowed to catch fish that are obviously abundant.”

If fresh and saltwater anglers don’t stand together, he added, “The outdated regulations that limit saltwater fishing will eventually bleed over into freshwater fishing.”

Fortunately, recreational fishing leaders already have put together a blueprint for improving M-S, entitled “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries.” Its recommendations include establishing a national policy for recreational fishing, allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit of the nation, and adopting a revised approach for saltwater recreational fisheries management.”

Under current regulations (for some species), said Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins, “It’s not even worth it to take a trip out to try and catch fish. If recreational anglers decide not to fish, it hurts boat sales, tackle sales, fuel sales . . . and the list goes on. It’s time for us to speak up and keep offshore recreational fishing alive.”

Along with B.A.S.S., American Sport Fishing Association, Coastal Conservation Association, Recreational Fishing Alliance, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, these already fishermen have signed on in support of BASC: Cliff Crochet, Kelly Jordon, Jeff Kriet, Mike Iaconelli, Bobby Lane, Jared Miller, Brandon Palaniuk, Dean Rojas, Marty Robinson, and Terry Scroggins.

(A variation of this article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Why Bass Anglers Should Care about the Gulf of Mexico

In the June issue of B.A.S.S. Times, did you read my feature about restoration efforts for the Gulf of Mexico? If you didn’t, probably it was because you believe that what happens in the Gulf has little to do with bass fishing and bass fishermen.

Sadly, this “it’s not affecting my fishing so I’m not interested” is all too common among anglers on many issues related to the future of recreational fishing. Otherwise, with our numbers around 40 million, we’d be a far more formidable force than we are for protecting access and enhancing the nation’s fish and waterways.

Aside from that, bass fishing and the Gulf of Mexico are inextricably tied, from Tampa Bay in Florida to Galveston Bay in Texas. Ask anyone who has caught both largemouth and snook in Florida’s Crystal River or targeted bass, along with redfish, in the marshes around Venice, La. Or ask Mike McClelland, who focused on the Clear Creek area of Galveston Bay to finish second in an Elite Series event out of Orange, Texas, this past spring.

To reach his waters, McClelland ran 230 miles round trip, and thus was limited to fishing just 2 ½ hours each day.  “Two hours was the fastest I could make the run, and that was under perfect conditions,” he said.  “On Saturday, it took me two hours, 47 minutes to get there. It was just brutal.”

But worth it. McClelland checked in with 46 pounds, just 4 behind winner Chris Lane.

Clear Creek and other freshwater waterways that pour into Galveston Bay haven’t received nearly as much press for their bass fishing opportunities as those in coastal Florida and Louisiana. But they are there, pumping in vital fresh water and nutrients to feed the bay system.

“The Trinity and San Jacinto rivers are the two largest, but there are dozens of small and medium-size streams feeding the bay, and most of them hold freshwater fisheries,” said Shannon Tompkins, a veteran outdoors writer for the Houston Chronicle who has been fishing the area for more than 40 years. One of Tompkins’ favorites is the lower Trinity, which boasts the largest remaining cypress swamp in Texas, just a few miles upstream from where it enters Galveston Bay, as well as good fishing for bass, crappie, catfish, and other species.

Many of the tidal streams, he added, have been severely degraded over the years, as have other Gulf inshore waters, but still manage to be productive, although not to the level they once were or might be again.“Maintaining, enhancing, and restoring those waterways is crucial to the health of the bay system, as well as important to provide recreation, including freshwater fishing,” Tompkins said. Restoration efforts include projects aimed at improving and/or restoring freshwater systems throughout the Gulf.


Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation


On a recent trip to Galveston, officials with the Galveston Bay Foundation and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) showed me how conservation projects are bringing back marshes and sea grasses to benefit the entire ecosystem, from invertebrates and sea birds to flounder and bass.

And five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, if bass anglers will join with their salt cousins to demand that RESTORE Act of 2012 funds be spent on coastal restoration, all will benefit.  “The restoration of the Gulf environment is key to the longevity of recreational fishing in the region,” said Amanda Fuller, deputy director of NWF’s Gulf of Mexico Restoration Program.

The RESTORE Act mandates that 80 percent of Clean Water Act civil and administrative penalties paid by BP and other companies responsible for the spill go to the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund. That means each of the five coastal states will receive hundreds of millions of dollars for restoration projects. But Fuller and others worry that states might be tempted to use some of that money for projects that are more about job creation and infrastructure than about habitat restoration and improvement of water quality.

“That’s why it’s important for sportsmen to get involved,” she said, emphasizing that they should tell their governors to spend the money on restoring the Gulf environment.

And if that’s not enough to convince you that restoring and enhancing the Gulf of Mexico is in your best interests as an inland bass angler, consider this: If we don’t sustain the fisheries there, many of those salt anglers are going to start moving in on your waters.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)


Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation Endorsed by CCC

The Center for Coastal Conservation has endorsed Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation (BASC), a new online advocacy system that allows fishing enthusiasts to write, call, or tweet their federal officials easily and intuitively.  The BASC site -- -- was launched on June 1 by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, B.A.S.S.

“It is more important than ever that America’s 46 million anglers make our voices heard, and Bass Anglers for Saltwater Conservation will make it easy for us to do so,” said Center for Coastal Conservation president Jeff Angers, calling the new B.A.S.S. initiative “a powerful new advocacy tool.”

“Whether you fish in saltwater or freshwater, I encourage you to visit today and speak out about the sport we love,” Angers added.

At, fishing enthusiasts can contact their members of Congress by email, call, or Tweet.  The site provides both informational talking points and prewritten materials, so that anglers can reach out with ease to their federal officials.

Angers said he is hopeful the fishing community will use to urge Congress and President Obama to protect recreational access to thriving fish stocks.

“With Congress considering the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary legislation affecting recreational fishing in federal waters , and with Washington imposing unrealistic restrictions on fishing from the Carolinas to Biscayne Bay and the Gulf of Mexico,  it’s time we as anglers make our voices heard,” Angers said.