Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United- Stay informed on the issues that matter!
|Posted by [email protected] on February 9, 2018 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc. issued the following statement today following the transmittal of a support letter from U.S. Senators regarding language in an appropriations bill that would increase transparency in imported shrimp:
A recent letter to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, dated February 8, 2018, from eleven influential Republican and Democrat U.S. Senators led by Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker (R) would include shrimp in the full implementation of the Seafood Important Monitoring Program (SIMP) as part of the FY18 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill within 30 days of enactment. The language of the bill referenced in the letter can be found in S. 1662; Section 513 authored by Senator Richard Shelby (R- AL). The Senators advocate for the inclusion of this important language in the final FY18 omnibus appropriations legislation.
The language, if implemented, would force shrimp importers to adhere to similar standards that the U.S. shrimp industry has been required to meet for years. “With full implementation, the American people would have better, timelier access to health and safety information for this widely consumed product”; the Senators noted. Not only would the bill help build consumer confidence in the safety of imported shrimp; it would also help to close on the door on fraudulent schemes including the adulteration of domestic, wild-caught shrimp that is often mixed with cheap imported shrimp and passed to consumers as U.S. product. Additionally, the language in the bill would help hold importers accountable that source shrimp from countries and companies that employ slave labor and use excessive amounts of antibiotics on the imported shrimp, most of which is farmed raised.
“We sincerely applaud Senator Wicker and the rest of the Senators who expressed strong bipartisan support for the hard-working U.S. shrimp industry in today’s letter regarding including shrimp in the Seafood Important Monitoring Program. The domestic, wild-caught shrimp industry has been in a state of decline for decades due to the flood of cheap, imported shrimp from countries such as India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. This bill is a beacon of hope for our coastal communities that greatly rely on domestic shrimp production- the largest commercial fishing industry in the southeastern United States.” said Ryan Bradley, Director of the Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United and fifth-generation commercial fisherman.
|Posted by [email protected] on December 18, 2017 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
Growing problem creates opportunity for collaboration
Recently, a group of commercial fishermen from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama traveled over one thousand miles north to meet with a group of conservation minded farmers in Wisconsin. The reason for the meeting was to discuss the ever growing Gulf Dead Zone that spreads seasonally from the mouth of the Mississippi River into highly productive fishing areas of the Gulf of Mexico. This opportunity allowed fishermen to share their stories of the Dead Zones’ impact on their livelihoods and allowed the farmers to show the fishermen some of the practices they are utilizing to help protect the Gulf fishery. Farmers and commercial fishermen have at least one thing in common; and that is the average age of both is getting older every year. This means that fewer young people are getting in to the predominately family-run businesses that make up the two industries and this could spell big trouble for the future of the nation’s food supply. This is why it is important that these two groups come together now, to address these problems so that future generations of domestic food producers can continue to supply the nation with reliable, healthy, and sustainably harvested food options that are also good for the environment.
One young farmer named Michael Dolan, age 24 of Seven Seeds Farm in Spring Green, WI is leading the charge of farmers in his region in an effort to promote sustainable, organic, and conservation minded farming practices. Michael is the Director of the Iowa County’s Uplands Watershed Group; a non-profit which includes farmers from Southwest Wisconsin who utilize conservation practices such as no-till farming, cover crop planting, stream buffers, and by maintaining tree lines all without the use of toxic sprays. “We can create change when we see the problem head on and connecting fishermen with farmers is a great place to start addressing the problem of the dead zone.” said Michael. These farmers should be applauded for their grass roots efforts, innovation, and drive to keep nutrients on the farm and out of the flow down to the Dead Zone. Together with the help of the Michael Fields Agriculture Institute- which provides administrative and organizing support to several farmer-led groups; the Wisconsin farmers recently hosted nine Gulf fishermen and their families including seafood dock owners and a wetland specialist to discuss the Gulf Dead Zone issue over a magnificent seafood dinner. Nearly, eighty-five farmers from the surrounding area attended the feast featuring a bountiful spread of fresh Gulf Seafood such as succulent shrimp, salty oysters, and some of the coast’s finest fish courtesy of Louisiana fishermen. The connections made through this gathering are invaluable in the fight to stem the growth of the ever expanding Gulf Dead Zone.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announced during 2017 that the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest in recorded history. The Gulf Dead Zone; which spreads annually from the mouth of the Mississippi River on both the west and the east coast of Louisiana is largely caused by nutrient run-off from fertilizer used on upland farms that end up flowing into downstream watersheds. The influx of high amounts of nutrients from the river into the Gulf gives rise to massive algae blooms which in turn deprive the waters of nearly all the available oxygen. Any marine life that is not able to swim out of harm’s way perishes. The Gulf Dead Zone not only impacts the federal waters off of the Louisiana coast but is steadily encroaching into Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama state waters. Although, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been convening a Gulf Hypoxia Task Force since 1997, little has actually been done to slow the growth of the Dead Zone. The Wisconsin farmers predict that next year will be even worse than this year’s record breaking hypoxic zone because of the torrential rains that occurred throughout the region this fall. The impacts of the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone greatly threaten commercially-important species of shrimp, crabs, and fin-fish including highly sought after species such as red snapper, grouper, menhaden, and tuna. A recent Duke University study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicated that the Gulf Dead Zone was effecting not only the abundance of shrimp but also noted that hypoxic conditions have resulted in stunted shrimp growth. As the Dead Zone continues to grow, the problem has the severe potential to send shockwaves throughout the Gulf seafood industry; ultimately forcing consumers to have to pay higher prices for the Gulf seafood the nation has come to enjoy and depend upon.
Myself- Ryan Bradley, a fifth-generation commercial fisherman from Long Beach, MS and Director of the Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United; a non-profit business alliance of Mississippi fishermen and fishing businesses, was one of the fishermen who attended the recent get together with Wisconsin farmers. “I’ve seen the dead zone first hand both shrimping and fishing in the Gulf; every spring and summer it begins to expand. We go from catching fish as fast as we can; to seeing absolutely nothing within just one week. It seems to be getting worse every year and moving in to areas we have never seen before. The dead zone starts growing right around the time valuable fish like red snapper are laying their eggs in these waters and you have to wonder if they are able to survive. Thankfully, as river levels drop in the fall season and dissolved oxygen is replenished; the marine life begin to move back into these areas but we have noticed a significant reduction in both shrimp abundance and size each year”; I told the farmers. It is important for fishermen, farmers, and resource managers to meet face to face to discuss these issues so that we can humanize the problem and connect it to those whose livelihoods depend on one another. Hopefully, more funding can be set aside to encourage these types of invaluable exchange programs with other states such as Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota to further the discussion and promote voluntary wholesale change in the farming practices that are employed.
Although much of the Gulf Dead Zone has been attributed to excessive nutrient run-off from upland watersheds; an equal amount of blame could be cast on the extensive levee system that has straight jacketed the Mississippi River. The natural capacity of Louisiana’s river basins to remove nutrients has been greatly diminished as the Mississippi has become one of the most heavily engineered rivers in all of the United States. Over time, urbanization and engineering modifications have disconnected the river from the land. The result is substantial land loss in Louisiana equivalent to one football field per hour of critical habitat necessary for a plethora of native flora and fauna to thrive. Now more than ever; Louisiana is faced with unprecedented, controversial freshwater and sediment diversion projects that present tough decisions for stakeholders and policy makers in an effort to ebb the tide of land erosion. The need for coastal protection and land loss mitigation is undoubtedly needed to protect coastal ecosystems; however, generational fishing families are rightfully concerned about the future of their livelihoods due to the unknown and possibly unintended consequences of several proposed comprehensive restoration projects. It is unclear if river diversion projects would create hypoxic zones in the estuaries that juvenile marine life depends upon before moving offshore.
When it comes to the Gulf Dead Zone issue, everyone can play a role in diminishing the ever growing hypoxic areas. This can be accomplished when purchasing beef by choosing U.S. grass fed beef over U.S. grain fed beef. Grass fed is promoted as being healthier for the cattle, the consumer, and the environment. This is because grass fed beef requires far less soil tillage which equates to less soil and nutrient run-off and a significant overall reduction in nutrient use. The fewer nutrients sent down river, means less hypoxia in the Gulf Dead Zone and more of the tasty bounty the Gulf of Mexico fishery provides to countless seafood consumers. Cooperatively, farmers and fishermen are working together to solve the complex problems our industries face with the hopes of improving both industries and the environment for the benefit of all Americans for generations to come. This issue requires all hands on deck and the prudent use of all available funding sources to tackle the Gulf Dead Zone problem. The RESTORE Act funding from the historic BP Oil Spill settlement presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to make major headway in addressing the growing hypoxic zone that has likely been exacerbated by the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by; we can all work together to make a difference.
Special thanks to the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute that provides administrative and organizing support for the Uplands Group. Many thanks to Wisconsin Farmers Union, Organic Valley, Strauss Brands, the McKnight Foundation, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, and the many other sponsors and collaborators for supporting this growing connection between Wisconsin farmers and Gulf fishermen.
To read the press release from the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, click here.
|Posted by [email protected] on October 27, 2017 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
The next time you enjoy Mississippi seafood, celebrate the people who brought it to you!
October is National Seafood Month, and there’s no better place to celebrate seafood than right here in the Magnolia State.
What Mississippi may lack in coastline length, it more than makes up for in seafood heritage and pride. Popular delights like oysters, shrimp, flounder and blue crabs – just to name a few – are all pulled from the briny waters off our coast and shipped fresh to seafood lovers across the state and this great nation.
The Mississippi seafood industry had a profound impact on the Gulf coast by establishing itself as a diverse immigrant community that led it to be called the “Seafood Capital of the World” as far back as 1869. In 1890 alone, local canneries reportedly processed 2 million pounds of oysters and 614,000 pounds of shrimp. Twelve years later, those numbers had skyrocketed as 12 canneries reported a combined catch of nearly 6 million pounds of oysters and 4.4 million pounds of shrimp.
Over the years, Slovenians, Cajuns, Eastern Europeans and Vietnamese (among others) came to Mississippi for its seafood bounty, its canning industry and its promise of opportunity for all.
Fast forward to 2015, when Mississippi landed 306 million pounds of seafood – more than any other Gulf state but Louisiana. Current landings support nearly 10,000 jobs and generate more than $239 million in economic value.
Mississippi has launched an extensive marketing campaign to promote its proud seafood culture. The Mississippi Seafood Trail was established by the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association in 2014 to reinvigorate the local seafood industry and help area restaurants increase sales of genuine Gulf seafood in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The Trail’s focus was to promote restaurants that proudly serve wild-caught, genuine Gulf seafood. With 69 participating restaurants across 360 miles from the Delta to the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Seafood Trail makes it easy for tourists and residents to find establishments that offer genuine, delicious Gulf seafood.
At the heart of Mississippi’s seafood success is a strong commitment to science. Fishermen and women team up with scientists to improve data collection and the science used to manage our fisheries. Managers work with fishermen to develop and implement policies that rely on sound science to protect both the fish and the fishermen. Government workers and fishermen collaborate to identify and fund opportunities to collaboratively solve problems.
It is truly a team effort, and one that has its roots in the strong Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The Magnuson-Stevens Act is our nation’s bipartisan fishery backbone, and it is something all Mississippians should be proud of. Thanks to Magnuson-Stevens’s science-based conservation requirements, 41 fish stocks have been rebuilt nationwide since 2001, and the number of fish stocks needing protection remains near all-time lows. Healthy fish stocks ensure profitable fishing businesses and a steady supply of sustainable seafood not just for today – but for future generations of fishermen, watermen and satisfied consumers like you.
Mississippi’s culture is a blend of traditions from a diverse community of people who pride themselves on their seafood history and heritage. When you purchase Mississippi Gulf seafood, you’re not only getting the highest-quality seafood, you’re supporting the state’s rich local culture and unique way of life. That’s a year-round reality we are celebrating this month.
So the next time you enjoy a dozen shrimp, red snapper fillet, crab cake or bowl of shrimp gumbo, take a moment to celebrate the people who helped bring this seafood to you.
* Special thanks to Eric Brazer for drafting this letter that was published in The Sun Herald- Biloxi on Friday, October 27, 2017. Eric Brazer is the Deputy Director of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance - the largest organization of commercial snapper and grouper fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico, which works to ensure that our fisheries are sustainably managed so fishing businesses can thrive and fishing communities can exist for future generations.
|Posted by [email protected] on April 8, 2017 at 6:50 PM||comments (0)|
The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc. (MSCFU) is pleased to announce our participation as a registered team in the MDEQ Beach Outfalls Challenge. This is a public prize competition in which 28 registered teams will compete in a challenge to "enhance Mississippi's ability to restore and maintain ecological integrity of priority bays and estuaries by providing measurable improvements to water quality and reducing significant sources of degradation".
Through the Beach Outfalls Challenge, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) hopes to have competitors come up with practical, implementable eco-restoration solutions for water resource improvement. These designs need to be flexible in implementation, aesthetically pleasing, not have any unintended consequences, and be compliant with MDEQ's National Fish and Wildlife (NFWF) proposal. MDEQ is seeking two different areas of focus for water improvement applications, as designs can focus on outfalls with in-stream or on-beach solutions.
Winning designs will be implemented, at pilot scale, by MDEQ. To learn more about the MDEQ Beach Outfalls Challenge and why it is important for MSCFU to be involved please visit our team page at:
If you would like to particpate on our Team or would like to become a sponsor please contact [email protected] Design submissions are due April 14, 2017 at 5 P.M. Central Time.
|Posted by [email protected] on February 8, 2017 at 8:45 PM||comments (0)|
Notice of Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Public Hearing regarding Shrimp Amendment 17B:
Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 6:00 - 9:00 pm
1600 E. Beach Blvd.
Gulfport, MS 39501
The Council reviewed a public hearing draft of Shrimp Amendment 17B. The Council selected preferred alternatives that would establish an aggregate maximum sustainable yield of 1.12 million pounds of tails and aggregate optimum yield of 8.5 million pounds of tails; set a minimum threshold number of shrimp permits at 1,072; form a review panel when the number of permits reaches 1,175; and allow vessels to transit through Gulf federal waters without a federal vessel permit if trawl doors and nets are out of the water and the bag straps are removed from the net. The Council will host public hearing meetings for Shrimp 17B in conjunction with Coral Amendment 7 scoping meetings.
Visit here to view the entire Gulf Council meeting recap:
|Posted by [email protected] on February 8, 2017 at 8:40 PM||comments (0)|
BILOXI, Miss. – A portion of an oyster reef in Pass Christian will open Thursday, Feb. 9, for tonging, officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced Wednesday.
Conditionally Approved Area II “F” will open at legal sunrise Thursday. It is part of the Pass Christian Reef and is known as the “Tonging Box.”
All applicable rules and regulations shall remain in effect, and all other waters and reefs shall remain closed to the harvest of oysters.
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