Gulf Coast Fisherman
COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN GET REPRIEVE FROM LIFERAFT REQUIREMENTS
Commercial fishermen got a last-minute reprieve from regulations, originally scheduled to go into effect on February 26, 2016, which would have required the use of out-of-water survival craft (e.g. inflatable life rafts). On February 8, 2016, the President signed H.R. Bill 4188, the “Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015” into law. In it, section 301 amended the out-of-water survival craft requirements in Title 46 United States Code (U.S.C.) §3104, limiting its applicability. Essentially, what this means is that the rectangular life floats which provide in-the-water buoyancy for users are still legal. Here is the link to Marine Safety Bulletin issued by the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard on February 18, 2016: http://www.fishsafe.info/MSIB%2004-16%20%20Clarification%20-Survival%20Craft%20Requirements%20for%20UCFIV.pdf.
FISH OIL FROM MENHADEN COULD IMPROVE PUBLIC HEALTH
A new study published in Lipid Technology highlights the potential positive impact of consumption of oil derived from menhaden, a US-caught fish high in the omega-3s EPA and DHA, on public health across the country. Medical expenditures in the US are the highest in the world, and cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality, costing more than $444 billion each year in direct and indirect costs. The consumption of 1000 mg per day of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids by the at-risk population - as recommended by the American Heart Association - may reduce the risk of a coronary heart disease (CHD) event and reduce nationwide healthcare costs by $1.7 billion.
This study determined that the current US menhaden oil supply, sustainably sourced entirely in US waters, could provide the recommended amount of EPA and DHA to all Americans over 55 with CHD. Additionally, the excess menhaden oil could be used to supply the salmon farming industry, which in turn could help supply all pregnant and lactating women in the US with the recommended weekly servings of oily fish. This is important due to the recent recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that pregnant and breastfeeding women eat 8-12 ounces of fish per week to support fetal neurodevelopment.
.According to study author Douglas M. Bibus, PhD, of the University of Minnesota: "Consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids are principal tenants of public health recommendations in the US to promote positive health and development. Omega 3 deficiency is now recognized to affect the majority of US citizens and is classified as a preventable cause of disease and death." He continued: "The present research highlights that people are not consuming adequate amounts of EPA and DHA, and normalizing dietary intakes of omega 3 has the potential to significantly impact public health while reducing rising health care costs."
(Source: The Fish Site, February 26, 2016)
GULF STATES TO ACCEPT OIL SPILL SETTLEMENT
The Deepwater Horizon natural resource trustees—representatives from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, NOAA, DOI, USDA, and EPA—have proposed to accept the $8.1 billion settlement from BP to resolve their liability for natural resource injuries stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As a next step in this process, a final version of a comprehensive programmatic assessment and restoration plan and programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Gulf of Mexico, incorporating public comment received in late 2015, has been released. This plan would allocate funds from the settlement over the next 15 years.
In October 2015, the trustees released the Draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which included an assessment of impacts of the spill and identified the types of restoration needed to compensate the public for these impacts. More than 6,300 public comments were submitted on the document for 60 days, and they were all considered in preparing the final document. Additional information can be found at: http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/2016/02/update-on-the-comprehensive-restoration-plan-for-the-gulf-of-mexico/..
FLORIDA 2016 GULF RECREATIONAL RED SNAPPER SEASON
On February 10, 2016, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced plans to modify the 2016 recreational red snapper season. The newly proposed season would be open Saturdays and Sundays in May starting May 7. On May 28, the season would open continuously through July 10. Finally, the season would reopen for Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in September and October, and on Labor Day. This would provide for a 78-day season in Gulf state waters.
FISH TAGGED IN MISSISSIPPI RECAPTURED NEAR ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
A shovelnose sturgeon tagged and released in the Mississippi River near Tunica by Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) biologists was recaptured on February 5, 2016, in the Mississippi River near Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. The fish, which swam almost 380 miles, was captured and released alive by a commercial fisherman. The sturgeon was originally tagged in 2012 by biologists performing research on pallid sturgeon, an endangered fish species.
"Sturgeon are remarkable fish that often make long distance migrations throughout the Mississippi River Basin," says MDWFP fisheries biologist Nathan Aycock. "This isn't the first fish we've tagged that was recaptured years later, hundreds of miles away. We've also caught fish in Mississippi that were tagged in other states, including one sturgeon, originally tagged near New Orleans, that moved over 550 miles upstream!" "We tag fish to learn about their movement patterns and habitat use," added Aycock. "Documenting long range movement of riverine fish species such as the sturgeon demonstrates the importance of working with other state and federal agencies to manage and protect these amazing animals."
GULF STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION FLOUNDER MANAGEMENT PROFILE
Gulf (Paralichthys albigutta) and southern flounder (P. lethostigma) range throughout the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Mexico. Their habitats, distribution, and abundance change with life history stages and seasonal movements. They are found in freshwater, brackish water, and saltwater. Gulf and southern flounder are the primary species that comprise the commercial and recreational fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico because of their relatively large size. Southern flounder are most common from Mobile Bay, Alabama, to Brownsville, Texas and Gulf flounder are most abundant in the eastern Gulf along the Florida Coast. Southern flounder have been found to occur in a variety of habitats. They prefer muddy substrates and are relatively abundant in areas where the substrate is composed of silt and clay sediments. Gulf flounder have been found in association with firm or sandy substrates which are more common in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Although flounder are not harvested in the same quantity as other popular commercial and recreational species, they are still an important component of Gulf fisheries. Their popularity is primarily due to their excellent quality as food fish. As a result, southern and Gulf flounders are the dominant flatfish in commercial and recreational landings for the Gulf. The Gulf and southern flounder are valuable recreational species on the Gulf Coast where they are harvested mainly by hook-and-line and gig. Gear types used to incidentally harvest flounders are basically the same as those used to commercially harvest other marine species and include butterfly nets, shrimp trawls, gill nets, trammel nets, hand lines, longlines, and haul seines. Since the implementation of regulations in the 1990s related to turtle excluder devices (TEDs) and bycatch reduction devices (BRDs), landings of flounder from nets and trawls have decreased substantially in Florida and Mississippi, which collect gear type data for commercial landings. Landings by gear type before and after these regulations are not available for Louisiana and Texas, although it is likely that these regulations affected commercial flounder landings similarly in these states. Recent data from the states recording flounder landings by gig/spear (Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi) have shown an increase in the proportion of flounder landed by this gear type. Flounder landings in the Gulf of Mexico, while fluctuating annually, generally were between 1 million and 1.6 million pounds each year from the late 1980s into the mid-1990s. The widespread restrictions placed on entangling nets in the Gulf in the mid-1990s resulted in a sharp decline in the total landings to about 600,000 pounds. Since 2000, the Gulf-wide landings have continued to decline fairly steadily due, in part, to additional regulations on bycatch; a reduction in overall effort in many of the fisheries in the Gulf; several catastrophic events in 2004, 2005, and 2008 related to extensive hurricane damages; and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
To view or download the report, click on http://www.gsmfc.org/publications/GSMFC%20Number%20247.pdf.
FEBRUARY BOARDWALK TALKS FOCUSED ON OYSTERS
Oysters were the hot topic for February's Boardwalk Talks at The Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Dr. Bill Walton held the crowd's attention February 3 as he discussed oyster farming in Alabama. Dr. Walton works at Auburn University's Shellfish Lab located at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. In recent years, he's been working on the development of oyster mariculture and working with oyster farmers in southern Alabama. Dr. Walton explained during the talk that when farming oysters you have the ability to promise consistency. "It's about working with what nature gives you to produce something you're proud of," Dr. Walton said after the talk.
Mid-month, Postdoc Associate Meagan Schrandt shared details of research focusing on how well the oyster can bounce back from a disturbance such as the oil spill. Dr. Sean Powers is the Prinicipal Investigator on the project. "This work will help create a plan in the future," Schrandt explained. The three-year research which began in the fall of 2015 includes oyster reef locations from Louisiana to Apalachicola, Florida. Data being collected from the field samples include the size of the oyster, the number of oysters, and what's living with the oysters. Another level of Schrandt's research will make use of Dr. Walton's oyster mariculture. Schrandt said Dr. Walton's team is working to harvest a large number of spat to be used in a controlled lab experiment.
This information was compiled by Dave Burrage, Peter Nguyen and Benedict Posadas. For more information, visit our office at 1815 Popps Ferry Road, Biloxi, MS 39532 or telephone (228) 388-4710.
MSU Coastal Research and