Written by Jen Finn
On the eve of a U. S. Senate hearing in Franklin County, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on Monday declared a commercial fishery failure for the oyster fishery in Apalachicola Bay.
Gov. Rick Scott requested the declaration in September 2012 because the fishery was near collapse. A May 2013 state report sent last week to federal officials blames lack of fresh water flowing from federal reservoirs in Georgia and Alabama.
Pritzker declared the commercial fishery failure for the oyster fishery along the west coast of Florida. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the fishery resource disaster resulted from excessive drought conditions in Apalachicola Bay and elsewhere in the Florida panhandle during the 2012-13 winter fishing season.
"We understand the economic significance this historic oyster fishery has for fishermen and related businesses in the panhandle of Florida," Pritzker said in a news release. "Because the drought caused such a decline in oyster landings and a rather significant drop in revenue, the fishery qualified as a resource disaster under the nation's fishing law."
The U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will conduct a field hearing Tuesday in Apalachicola at the courthouse annex starting at 11 a.m. U. S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, and Scott also are scheduled to tour the area.
The May report issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the population of legal size oysters has dropped 67 percent. Recovery of oyster populations, the report said, will take five years under "ideal" conditions with adequate fresh water flow.
In a statement issued Monday night, Scott said NOAA did the right thing in making the declaration.
"Now we need the support of Congress to provide the dollars necessary to support this region's recovery," Scott said. "Congress should move with a sense of urgency to provide much-needed support for families in the region, so they can get back on their feet and continue providing our nation with the world's best oysters."
Read the full story at the Florida Current>>
National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15
In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.
National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15
In this episode:
March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received
The National Marine Educators Association has partnered with NOAA this year to offer all conference attendees an educational session on how free NOAA data can add functionality to navigation systems and maritime apps.
Session topics include nautical charts, tides and currents, seafloor data, buoy networking and weather, among others.Read more...
NMFS announced two changes in regulations that apply to federal fishing permit holders starting Aug. 26.
First, they have eliminated the requirement for vessel owners to submit “did not fish” reports for the months or weeks when their vessel was not fishing.
Some of the restrictions for upgrading vessels listed on federal fishing permits have also been removed.Read more...