National Fisherman

A federal judge in New Orleans accepted an agreement for BP to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record fine in connection with the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which ranks as one of the nation's worst environmental disasters.

The agreement, announced in November, allowed a unit of the London-based oil giant to plead guilty Tuesday to 11 counts of seaman's manslaughter in connection with the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the gulf. The company also entered a guilty plea to one felony count of obstruction of Congress and two environmental misdemeanors.

The company was fined $4 billion in connection with the spill and was given five years' probation.

Tuesday's court action ends the company's current criminal issues, but is just one step in the ongoing proceedings related to the disaster. Four current or former BP employees have been indicted on criminal charges. BP has separately agreed to a $7.8-billion settlement with lawyers representing Gulf Coast residents and businesses and could be assessed more than $17 billion under the Clean Water Act.

"Today's guilty plea and sentencing represent a significant step forward in the Justice Department's ongoing efforts to seek justice on behalf of those affected by one of the worst environmental disasters in American history," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. "I'm pleased to note that more than half of this landmark resolution -- which totals $4 billion in penalties and fines and represents the single largest criminal resolution ever -- will help to provide direct support to Gulf Coast residents as communities throughout the region continue to recover and rebuild."

At the hearing, BP again apologized for the deaths and for the spill.

Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times>>

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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