Gulf Coast Fisherman
2015 YEAR TO DATE SHRIMP LANDINGS AND PRICES DOWN
NOAA's recent release of shrimp landings data in the Gulf of Mexico for July 2015 shows that over 10.5 million pounds of shrimp were caught last month, up from 9.5 million pounds harvested in July 2014. The year-to-year increase was driven by landings in Texas, where 5.2 million pounds of landed shrimp were reported compared to just 2.9 million pounds in 2014. The amount of shrimp landed in Texas in July 2015 was on par with the average volume of shrimp landed in July over the last thirteen years (2002-2014).
In Louisiana, on the other hand, the 3.3 million pounds of shrimp landed last month was significantly less than the 4.9 million pounds caught in July 2014. The total volume of shrimp reported for the state last month was the lowest total reported for July by NOAA since July 2010 and almost one-third of the July historical average over the last thirteen years (4.8 million pounds). For 2015, Gulf shrimp landings over the first seven months (40.4 million pounds) are reported to be slightly less than 2014 (40.5 million pounds). It is the second smallest volume of shrimp reported harvested in the Gulf between January and July over the last fourteen years, ahead of only 2010 (34.0 million pounds), and almost thirty percent below the prior thirteen year historical average (56.8 million pounds).
Although landings volumes have been reported to be historically low, the ex-vessel prices reported by NOAA for July 2015 were substantially lower than ex-vessel prices reported in July of last year. For the Northern and Western Gulf regions, ex-vessel prices for 26-30 count shrimp have fallen to levels not seen since 2009. Across all regions, ex-vessel prices for 41-50 count shrimp are substantially less than what they were reported to be last year. Of the ex-vessel prices reported by NOAA, only prices for U15 count shrimp have remained at elevated levels. (Source: The Shrimp e-Advocate August 24, 2015)
MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION REQUIREMENTS TO BE EXTENDED TO FOREIGN EXPORTERS
On August 11, 2015, NOAA Fisheries has published a notice in the Federal Register about rules for foreign seafood exporters regarding marine mammals. Although there is a five year window for implementation, the new rules would require certification for any export fishery that interacts with marine mammals. Unless the foreign country had a program certified as effective by NMFS for reducing marine mammal bycatch mortality, exports from that fishery would be prohibited into the US. The operation of the program appears similar to the Turtle Excluder Laws, which require tropical shrimp producing countries to certify the use of turtle excluders for wild shrimp, if they intend to export such shrimp to the US.
Over the years, exports have been suspended from some countries for failure to comply, with the most recent being Mexico, whose wild shrimp exports were suspended for a year. Fisheries that interact with marine mammals include yellowfin tuna in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, where dolphins are at risk, many longline fisheries that have marine mammal bycatch, large scale driftnet fisheries, and even potentially pot fisheries like lobster. In the US, lobster gear has been modified to reduce whale interactions, and entanglement is recognized as the leading cause for marine mammal bycatch globally.
Once the rule is fully in effect, a foreign country would have to meet the following qualifying conditions before a fishery that interacts with marine mammals could export to the US:
- Marine mammal stock assessments that estimate population abundance for marine mammal stocks in waters under its jurisdiction that are incidentally killed or seriously injured in the export fishery;
- An export fishery register containing a list of all vessels participating in an export fishery under the jurisdiction of the harvesting nation, including the number of vessels participating, information on gear type, target species, fishing season, and fishing area for each export fishery;
- Regulatory requirements (e.g., including copies of relevant laws, decrees, and implementing regulations or measures) that include:
- A requirement for the owner or operator of vessels participating in the fishery to report all intentional and incidental mortality and injury of marine mammals in the course of commercial fishing operations; and
- A requirement to implement measures in export fisheries designed to reduce the total incidental mortality and serious injury of a marine mammal stock below the bycatch limit. Such measures may include: Bycatch reduction devices; incidental mortality and serious injury limits; careful release and safe-handling of marine mammals and gear removal; gear marking; bycatch avoidance gear (e. g., pingers); gear modifications or restrictions; or time- area closures.
- Implementation of monitoring procedures in export fisheries designed to estimate incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in each export fishery under its jurisdiction, as well as estimates of cumulative incidental mortality and serious injury for marine mammal stocks in waters under its jurisdiction that are incidentally killed or seriously injured in the export fishery and other export fisheries with the same marine mammal stock, including an indication of the statistical reliability of those estimates;
- Calculation of bycatch limits for marine mammal stocks in waters under its jurisdiction that are incidentally killed or seriously injured in an export fishery;
- Comparison of the incidental mortality and serious injury of each marine mammal stock or stocks that interact with the export fishery in relation to the bycatch limit for each stock; and comparison of the cumulative incidental mortality and serious injury of each marine mammal stock or stocks that interact with the export fishery and any other export fisheries of the harvesting nation showing that these export fisheries:
- Does not exceed the bycatch limit for that stock or stocks; or
- Exceeds the bycatch limit for that stock or stocks, but the portion of incidental marine mammal mortality or serious injury for which the exporting fishery is responsible is at a level that, if the other export fisheries interacting with the same marine mammal stock or stocks were at the same level, would not result in cumulative incidental mortality and serious injury in excess of the bycatch limit for that stock or stocks.
The next step will be a formal comment period, after which NOAA will issue the final rule. (Source: SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton August 11, 2015)
CONVICTION AFTER SHRIMP MISLABELING CASE
A North Carolina seafood processor and wholesale distributor faces a felony conviction after Federal prosecutors exposed the company’s shrimp mislabeling scheme. The prosecution also resulted in a $100,000 fine, forfeiture of more than 20,000 pounds of shrimp and three years’ probation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina joined forces to investigate and prosecute Alphin Brothers Inc., in a case that saw the company admit to falsely labeling tens of thousands of pounds of shrimp.
“This case is an example of coordinated law enforcement, both state and federal, working together with the tools they already have to crack down on fish fraud,” said Lisa Weddig, Secretary of the Better Seafood Board.
US Attorneys used the Lacey Act as the centerpiece of their prosecution. Federal law makes it illegal to “make or submit any false record, account, or label for, or any false identification of, any fish or wildlife that has been or is intended to be imported, transported, purchased, or received from any foreign country, or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.” “The key to stamping out fish fraud is just what we see in this case,” said Ms Weddig. “Officials didn’t need new laws or new rules and regulations to go after and ultimately convict this operation. They used the Lacey Act and exceptional coordination to crack down on clear fraud.” Lacey Act violations can result in five years in prison and half a million in fines for companies and $250,000 in fines for individual defendants.
“A felony conviction, fines, and forfeitures illustrate how significant this crime is and how seriously the Feds take it,” said Ms Weddig. The Better Seafood Board was established by the National Fisheries Institute to provide a mechanism for industry’s partners in the supply chain – restaurants, retail operations, producers, and processors - to report suppliers suspected of committing economic fraud. (Source: TheFishSite News Desk, August 27, 2015)
KATRINA REMEMBERED 10 YEARS LATER
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. It was the most costly natural disaster on record, causing an estimated $108 billion in damages, and was one of the top deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, causing at least 1,245 fatalities. Days after the hurricane hit, the Department of Commerce declared the entire Gulf of Mexico to be a fishery failure. Each gulf state lost millions of harvest dollars and only a fraction commercial fishery facilities were fully operational in the following years.
Fishermen were immediately concerned for the future and started to hatch a game plan. The industry was ready to fight for their place in the market, while consumers were turning away.
As soon as business started to pick back up, many of those same fisheries were affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which spewed 210 million gallons of oil into the water. In an area that some were starting to think must be cursed, fishermen began to rebuild their lives and once again got back to the water against all odds. They rebuilt their homes, boats, docks, and facilities, getting back to what they do best as soon as they could. Unfortunately, while fishermen were recovering, their markets were being slammed with a continuous flood of cheap imports. Now, 10 years after most people would’ve given up, fishermen are still at work.
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