April 1, 2014
FLORIDA AND MISSISSIPPI FISHERIES TO RECEIVE MORE THAN $17 MILLION IN FISHERY DISASTER RELIEF FUNDS
As part of the Fiscal Year 2014 federal budget, Congress approved $75 million in fishery disaster relief funds. On February 26, NOAA Fisheries announced Mississippi will receive $10,941,828 and Florida will receive $6,316,533. The allocation comes after the Department of Commerce declared six fishery disasters in 2012 and 2013. Two separate disasters were declared in the Southeast U.S. The first was in September 2012 for the Mississippi oyster and blue crab fisheries due to floods, and the second was declared in August 2013 for the Florida west coast oyster fishery due to excessive drought conditions. NOAA will work with the eligible states affected by the disaster to quickly allocate the funding.
“We are very concerned for those affected by these fisheries disasters,” said Roy Crabtree, southeast regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “We will work closely with each state to distribute funds as quickly as possible to help folks move past these challenging times.” Funding recipients will have broad latitude to determine the best use of the funds to meet the unique needs of their local businesses and communities. Funds can be used for activities that “restore the fishery or prevent a similar failure in the future, and to assist a fishing community
affected by such failure.”
There are a number of steps that have to take place before the money can be distributed. Funds are allocated through the federal grant process. NOAA Fisheries works with the recipients to develop spend plans and ensure that all statutory and grant requirements are addressed. NOAA has have determined that matching requirements do not apply to states, Councils and Commissions in this particular situation. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Commerce Secretary can declare a fishery disaster, which makes it possible for Congress to appropriate funds to provide economic assistance to fishing businesses and communities, including fishermen, affected by a disaster and to support other activities addressing the disaster.
MISSISSIPPI COMMERCIAL SPOTTED SEATROUT RULES GO INTO EFFECT MAY 1
Beginning May 1, commercial fishermen will be required to obtain an endorsement along with their commercial fishing license in order to harvest spotted seatrout. The endorsement is $10, and fishermen must complete an application showing that $5,000 of seafood product was sold in any 12 consecutive month period. That proof can include copies of sales records along with a copy of the applicable harvester's license for the appropriate time period. Other forms of proof include records showing 10 percent of the fisherman's net income came from commercial fishing activities in any previous tax year. A form showing this must be submitted to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) completed by a licensed tax preparer that includes a Preparer Tax Identification Number. It must be notarized before being submitted to MDMR. The endorsement will be valid for three years, after which the qualifying documents must be re-submitted. Changes to Title 22, Part 7, Chapter 9, Section 110 that reflect these changes are posted on the MDMR website at www.dmr.ms.gov. The MDMR will assist fishermen in obtaining the required endorsement. For assistance, call 374-5000 and ask for the Trip Ticket office.
NEW SHRIMP GEAR REDUCES FUEL COSTS, IMPROVES QUALITY
A new publication, "Reducing Fuel Use in the Southeastern U.S.Shrimp Fishery with Vented, Cambered Doors and Braided, Sapphire® Webbing," explains advancements in shrimp-trawl gear to improve fuel efficiency and catch quality. According to the study, the new gear is a real income builder for the shrimp-trawl industry, even when using conservative assumptions about useful life, fuel saved, even fuel cost over time. The first part of the publication explains changes that make cambered, steel doors and Sapphire nets a legitimate alternative for operators in the southeast U.S. shrimp-trawl fishery. The second part of the publication conducts an investment analysis that compares the costs of cambered gear and Sapphire nets to those of traditional wooden doors and nylon nets. The cambered gear and Sapphire nets were found to make economic sense! While the cambered gear and Sapphire nets cost about 50% more than traditional gear, they save money due to a longer useful life, the fact that the Sapphire material does not require twice yearly dipping, and a conservative fuel savings of 10% (which is 6,610 gallons based on data from 1986 to 1997). The cambered gear production costs are a good deal lower than those estimated for the traditional gear.
Generating additional income through cost savings helps make the shrimp industry more resilient to fluctuating dockside prices, higher fuel costs, and below average annual shrimp harvests. In addition, earning more income from fishing increases your retained earnings. Greater retained earnings enable an operator to (a) keep up with preventive maintenance, (b) explore investment in other fuel-saving technologies like state-of-the-art propellers and nozzles, (c) increase brine freezing capacity so larger quantities of shrimp can be thoroughly frozen in each 15-minute, on-deck freezing cycle, and (d) withdraw a portion of those new-found retained earnings each year to fund a personal retirement account. Industry experts believe the strategy of reducing fuel costs and increasing quality are within the reach of virtually all offshore shrimp producers through the gear improvements and that it will have a significant, positive, lasting impact on the economic well-being of shrimp-trawl businesses. Find the full study at: http://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Final_fuel-saving-reference_02-19-2014.pdf
NEW INFORMATIONAL SITE HELPS BUYERS UNDERSTAND
THE SUSTAINABILITY OF GULF SEAFOOD
Seafood buyers and other interested parties now have access to a one-stop-shop for the information they need to be confident that seafood harvested from state-managed fisheries in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico is sustainable. Launching at Seafood Expo North America, GulfFishInfo.org, or Gulf FINFO, gathers information from fisheries experts from across the Gulf states and puts easy to understand, science-based facts about Gulf state fisheries at the public’s fingertips. “The site will be a valuable tool in communicating this previously unpublished or hard to find information. With the species data broken down by state, plus overviews from a Gulf perspective, buyers have everything they’re looking for to make sound purchasing decisions,” said Chris Blankenship, Director of the Marine Resources Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Program Administrator of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission.
A collaboration among the five Gulf states, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC), and NOAA Fisheries, Gulf FINFO provides a platform for these authorities to communicate how they conserve and manage fisheries in Gulf state waters. Gulf FINFO complements FishWatch.gov, which covers fisheries in federal waters. FINFO will be a great regional tool for introducing the public to state fisheries management,” stated Chief of External Affairs for NOAA Fisheries Communications Office Laurel Bryant. “We are pleased that it includes federally managed species by linking to FishWatch.gov. This collaboration with the Commission and states underscores the importance of partnerships necessary for successful marine fisheries management in the U.S.”
Gulf FINFO profiles top Gulf fisheries, with information ranging from basics about species biology and habitat to how fisheries operate and how each state ensures these operations are sustainable. Through FINFO, users can quickly review the status of Gulf fisheries resources or dig deeper to understand the robust science and responsible management at work to ensure these resources are viable for generations to come. According to GSMFC FINFO Coordinator Alex Miller, “This site is our response to a previously unmet need in the Gulf seafood industry, providing a tool through which buyers can understand the status of the seafood they purchase, and it fulfills the mission of the Commission by bringing the Gulf states together to promote Gulf fisheries.” Gulf FINFO uses education, rather than advocacy, to help seafood buyers appreciate the unique environment of the Gulf and demonstrate that Gulf seafood is not only world-famous but sustainable, too. “For decades, our biologists, managers, and fishing industry have worked hard to ensure Louisiana’s fisheries operate sustainably and continue to provide some of the best quality, best tasting seafood on the market,” stated Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Assistant Secretary of Fisheries Randy Pausina. “And now, through FINFO, we’re able to clearly explain this to the world.” The initial industry response has been positive. According to Carl Salamone, Vice President of Seafood Sustainability for Wegmans Food Markets, “Wegmans is very excited about the creation of this program with regards to sustainability of Gulf Seafood. This will enable us to educate our seafood folks who in turn educate our customers. We find more and more of our customers asking questions on the seafood we offer from this region. Being able to answer these questions with the help of the Gulf FINFO site will be a win-win.” Contact: Alex Miller, Staff Economist , GSMFC, 228-875-5912.
GREAT AMERICAN SEAFOOD COOK-OFF SLATED
The Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition (Coalition), through the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Inc. (Foundation), and with assistance from the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, Gulf Seafood Institute, and the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), will host the 11th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off. The Cook-Off is the nation's most prestigious seafood cooking competition, and is supported by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, audited by the National Fisheries Institute, and endorsed by the National Restaurant Association. The event will be held in conjunction with LRA Foodservice Expo in the Southwest Airlines Gulf Coast Seafood Pavilion in New Orleans, LA on August 2, 2014. Top-level executive chefs from around the nation will compete against each other while preparing sustainable, domestic seafood dishes using seafood that best represents their state. A panel of the nation's distinguished chefs and food lovers will judge the competition. The winner will be declared the "King or Queen of American Seafood 2014."
The Great American Seafood Cook-Off helps to shine the spotlight on the nation's domestic seafood communities and showcases the finest seafood from various regions of the country. Last year's event was a grand success and in addition to nationwide print coverage, it is being broadcasted across the United States on more than 90 PBS stations. Louisiana Public Broadcasting is returning to produce this year's show which will be offered to affiliates of PBS across the United States, underlining the national attention that this event receives. The Coalition provides a framework for the seafood community to coordinate marketing efforts among the Gulf States with emphasis on working with tourism boards, restaurants, retailers and chefs. The Foundation is coordinating the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition through funding provided by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission's (NOAA Award #NA10NMF4770481). For more information, please visit http://www.eatgulfseafood.com and follow the Coalition on Facebook at Gulf Coast Seafood and Twitter at @eatgulfseafood.