National Fisherman


GULF OF MEXICO — There's now a draft plan for using fines from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to restore the Gulf Coast's natural resources and economy.

But the document doesn't include two items required by federal law: a 10-year allocation plan or a three-year priority list of projects and programs, The Times-Picayune reports.

There are several reasons, according to the 20-page "draft initial comprehensive plan" released Thursday by The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. One is that officials don't yet know how much money the RESTORE Act trust fund will get or when it will arrive. The U.S. Treasury has not issued procedures for spending it. The council wants public input. And Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have not yet completed their own plans.

The federal-state body will oversee billions of dollars in Clean Water Act fines from the spill. The RESTORE act allocates 80 percent of the money to restoration projects along the Gulf Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, and the rest to a trust fund to cover the cost of future oil spills.

Along with the document, it released a 112-page environmental assessment and a list of several hundred potential federal and state projects and programs that have been authorized but not yet begun, 73 of them in Louisiana.

Its list of goals for spending the money: restore and conserve habitat, restore water quality, replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources, enhance community resilience, and restore and revitalize the Gulf economy.

As a result of a settlement of Clean Water Act civil claims with Transocean, the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded and sank during the BP Macondo well blowout in 2010, the trust fund will receive $800 million during the next two years. It has already received $320 million of that.

Read the full story at the Mississippi Business Journal>>

Inside the Industry

The Downeast Salmon Federation has received a major grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to ensure and improve the water quality of eastern Maine’s most important rivers, according to the Ellsworth American.

Read more...

Louisiana crab fishermen and their catch are feeling the pressure of a downturn in the state economy, and a resulting upturn of people entering the fishery.

“It’s a crazy business right now,” said Pete Gerica, the New Orleans fisherman who now serves as president or the Louisiana Crab Task Force, a legislatively-created board of industry voices that makes recommendations to state government.

Read more...

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