Upcoming DWH seminar – Building resilient communities: Lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Just a friendly reminder about an upcoming Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Program seminar:

Building resilient communities: Lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

September 27, 2016 – Long Beach, MS (or stream online)
This seminar will identify traits that made communities more resilient after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, discuss programs and resources that are available to communities, and share lessons learned in overcoming disasters and identify ways to strengthen resiliency. For more information or to register, see the attached flyer or visit: http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/presentations/building-resilient-communities/


The Technology & Deepwater Horizon seminar last week in Miami, FL was a great success! Whether you missed it or loved it and want to see it again, video recordings and pdfs of each of the presentations from that seminar are available at: http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/presentations/technology-deepwater-horizon/


If you plan on attending the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute annual conference in November, we will be there too! Please join our input workshop at the conference: Oil Spill Science and Information Needs for Gulf and Caribbean Stakeholders. For more information and to register, visit: http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/presentations/gulf-caribbean/


LDWF releases stock assessments previously held due to DWH litigation


By Julie Lively

Several stock assessments that were previously unreleased due to ongoing Deepwater Horizon litigation have been released. 


Recently released assessments include:

·     Update Assessment of Blue Crab

·     Update Assessment of Striped Mullet

·     Assessment of Black Drum

·     Assessment of Southern Flounder

·     Assessment of Sheepshead

·     Update Assessment of Spotted Seatrout

·     Oyster Stock Assessment – 2014

A list of recent LDWF fisheries stock assessments can be found at: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/stock-assessments. Earlier stock assessments may be obtained upon request from Rene LeBreton, rlebreton@wlf.la.gov.


On April 4th, 2016, the Court approved the settlement between the United States, the five Gulf States and BP for damages stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Oyster Task Force, Coastal Restoration Subcommittee, and Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit Appeals Board to Meet


Coastal Restoration Subcommittee

Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 11:00 A.M.

UNO Advanced Technology Center

2021 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 210

New Orleans 70122




I.             Call to Order

II.            To hear the presentation: Building Land in Coastal Louisiana:

Expert Recommendations for Operating a Successful Sediment Diversion that Balances Ecosystem and Community Needs- Natalie Peyronnin

III.           Public Comment

IV.           Set next meeting

V.            Adjourn


The meeting will be held in compliance with Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law as defined by Louisiana R.S. 42:11, et seq.  The public is invited to attend. To listen in to the meeting via webinar register at


The Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit Appeals Board will meet on Tuesday, September 27, 2016. The meeting will convene at 10:00 a.m. in the second floor conference room of the University of New Orleans’ Advanced Technology Center located at 2021 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans.  


Agenda items for the meeting of the Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit Appeals Board are as follows:


1.     Roll Call of Board Members

2.     Approval of Minutes from August 23, 2016 Meeting

3.     Hearing of Deferred Renewal Permit Appeals

a.     Randy Chaisson, Sr.

4.     Update on Recommendations Made at August 23, 2016 Meeting

5.     Receive Public Comments

6.     Set next meeting date

7.     Adjournment


This Board was established by Act 922 of the 2008 Regular Legislative Session for the purpose of hearing appeals of vessel permit denials by LDWF. Act 922 requires that anyone commercially harvesting oysters on the public oyster seed grounds and reservations, except those in Calcasieu Lake and Sabine Lake, must do so from a vessel holding a public oyster seed ground vessel permit issued by LDWF.


The meeting will be held in compliance with Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law as defined by Louisiana R.S. 42:11, et seq.  The public is invited to attend.


For more information, please contact Ty Lindsey at 225-765-2387 or tlindsey@wlf.la.gov

Louisiana Oyster Task Force Meeting

John Tesvich, Chairman

Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 1 p.m.

2021 Lakeshore Dr., STE 210

New Orleans, LA 70122




I.         Roll call and introduction of guests

II.        Approval of August 23, 2016 Meeting Minutes and September 27, 2016 Agenda

III.       Treasury Report

A.      Oyster Tag Sales

B.      LOTF Financial Report

IV.         Committee Reports

A.      Public and Private Oyster Grounds Committee  (Mitch Jurisich)

B.      Enforcement (Captain Chad Hebert)

C.      Legislative (Jakov Jurisic)

D.     Research (Earl Melancon)

E.      Coastal Restoration (Dan Coulon)

F.      Marketing (LDWF)

G.      Health (Lance Broussard)

H.     Sustainability (LDWF)

I.        Professionalism (LDWF)

J.      Aquaculture (John Supan)


V.         New Business

A.    Update on the Findings of Surveying Area 1-N and Calcasieu Lake- LDWF

B.    Discussion of the NOI to Amend Title 76 as it Pertains to Oyster Leasing- LDWF

C.    Update on oyster sampling in Barataria Basin for System Wide Assessment & Monitoring Program (SWAMP) – CPRA

D.     To Hear a Presentation on the Pearl River Project- Andrew Whitehurst

E.    Discussion of the Hardships Facing Oystermen Engaged in Aquaculture- Byron Encalade


VI.         Public Comment

VII.        Set Next Meeting

VIII.       Adjourn


The meeting will be held in compliance with Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law as defined by Louisiana R.S. 42:11, et seq.  The public is invited to attend.  To listen in to the meeting via webinar register at:


Gulf Council to Host Coral Stakeholder Engagement Meetings

The Gulf of Mexico will host a Coral Stakeholder Engagement Meeting in Louisiana to educate fishermen using bottom contacting gear on the importance of deep-water coral reef habitats, and to gather input on potential coral protection mechanisms and proposed areas that may warrant Habitat Area of Particular concern designation. 


The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. local time with a brief presentation on deep-water corals. Staff will then describe proposed protections on priority areas that have been identified by the Council’s scientific and fishermen advisors. The proposed expansion of the Flower Garden Sanctuary will be included in the presentation. Finally, staff will take comments to gather local knowledge on deep-water coral areas and discuss any unintended consequences that may occur as a result of management action.


Monday, September 26, 2016 

Courtyard Marriott

142 Library Drive

Houma, Louisiana



Click here to submit comments online: 




Crab Task Force to Meet September 20th at 1:00 p.m.


Pete Gerica, Chairman

Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 1:00 p.m.

UNO Advanced Technology Center

2021 Lakeshore Dr., Room 210

New Orleans, Louisiana 70122




I.      Roll Call and Introduction of Guests

II.     Approval of June 8, 2016 minutes and September 20, 2016 agenda

III.    Financial Report

IV.    New Business

A.     Update on Seasonal Closure and Derelict Crab Trap Closure- LDWF

B.     Discussion of Crab Possession Limits and Regulations- Trudy Luke

C.     Update on the Blue Crab Mark-Recapture Study-  Zack Darnell

D.    Discussion of the MSC Certification- Gary Bauer

VI.    Public Comment

VII.   Set Next Meeting

VIII.   Adjourn


The meeting will be held in compliance with Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law as defined by Louisiana R.S. 42:11, et seq.  The public is invited to attend.  To listen in to the meeting via webinar register at:


Giants of the Deep- Goliath Grouper


Goliath Grouper. Courtesy of Angela Collins

The goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) is a large fish that inhabits tropical and subtropical waters. It can be found in the eastern Pacific, western Atlantic, and eastern Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Brazil, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico usually in shallow reefs and along structures such as oyster beds, mangroves, rock and coral reefs and artificial reefs like oil rigs. Goliath groupers are unlike most members of the grouper family because they can be found in brackish water. Prior to 1990, the goliath grouper was recreationally and commercially fished. However, overfishing and environmental factors caused a decline in the population. The goliath grouper is listed as critically endangered
on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is now a federally protected species. The goliath grouper was formerly known as the Jewfish until 2001 when the American Fisheries Society (AFS) determined that the name was
culturally insensitive and adopted the name that is used today.
Adult goliath groupers have small spots in the fins, body and head and are typically olive, gray or brownish yellow in color. Goliath groupers are opportunistic ambush predators that feed on a variety of food items. This grouper primarily feeds on crustaceans such as
crabs, shrimp and spiny lobster. Other prey items include octopus, juvenile sea turtles, gastropods, and a variety of fish such as hardhead catfish, stingray and parrotfish.
The goliath grouper is the second largest member of the grouper family and one of the largest reef fish on earth. An adult goliath grouper can weigh as much as 800 pounds and reach 8.2 feet in length. These fish can live more than 35 years and are slow growers. On average they grow approximately four inches per year until age six, then growth declines sharply to 1.2 inches per year until age 15 and down to 0.4 inches per year after age 25. Due to their slow growth rate, they take several years to reach sexual maturity. Males are considered sexually mature when they have reached a total length of 45.5 inches and are over seven years old, while females reach sexual maturity when they reach a length of 48.2 inches and are at least six years old.
It is believed that goliath grouper are making a comeback, but data is needed before any changes can be made to regulations and management. Due to this believed increase, Florida Sea Grant and Florida Fish and Wildlife have been hosting the Great Goliath Grouper Count (GGGC) since 2010. During this event every spring, volunteer divers go out and collect abundance and size data on any goliath grouper they encounter. This information has been helpful for management to understand if goliath grouper are making a comeback.


Goliath Grouper. Courtesy of Angela Collins

Louisiana Sea Grant is partnering with Florida Sea Grant to collect their own goliath grouper sightings. Off Louisiana, goliath grouper are most likely to be found on artificial reef structure like the oil rigs. Louisiana waters are warm enough for these amazing fish to show up in the warmer months. We expect that they might be spotted during spear diving, research, recreational diving or even shrimping activities. If you have ever seen a goliath grouper off the coast of Louisiana (state or federal waters), please let us know. You can report your sighting at http://tinyurl.com/Ggrouper or call (225) 578-0771.

– Tom Aepelbacher & Julie Lively
For more information on the Great Goliath Grouper Count, please visit

Great Goliath Grouper Count Provides Fisheries Managers with Stock Assessment Data

Coral Protection Workshops for Fishermen Using Bottom Contacting Gear


By Julie Lively

The Gulf Council will be hosting two meetings late this month to get some extra input from fishermen using bottom contacting gear (shrimpers and longliners) in the federal waters of the Gulf. The Council scientists suggested we consider protecting 47 areas in the Gulf and we’ve narrowed down to 15 priority areas with the help of or Coral and Shrimp Advisory Panels.

The Council be hosting these meeting to gather feedback from fishermen on the proposed areas before the Council even begins the scoping process. This will be the absolute earliest and best way to get fishermen involved in the development of this Amendment as the Council move s forward.

Meetings will begin at 6 p.m.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Courtyard Marriott

142 Library Drive

Houma, Louisiana


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bayou La Batre Community Center

12745 Padgett Switch Road (CR 23)

Irvington, Alabama


FB16-061: NOAA Seeks Comments on a Proposed Rule to Extend Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Recreational Sector Separation Provisions – Comment Period Ends October 24, 2016

red snapper copy

Red Snapper Illustration by Diane Rome Peebles

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that would extend the 2017 sunset provision by five years for the recreational red snapper sector separation regulations.


These measures are outlined in Amendment 45 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico submitted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council). The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on September 8, 2016, with the comment period ending October 24, 2016.


History of the sector separation provisions

The sector separation provisions were implemented in May 2015 through the final rule for Amendment 40. Amendment 40 specified sub-quotas, annual catch targets, and accountability measures for the federal for-hire and private angling components of the recreational sector. The purpose of this amendment was to increase flexibility in future management of the recreational sector fishing for red snapper and reduce the chance for recreational quota overruns. For more information on Amendment 40, see



The final rule for Amendment 40 also put in place a three-year sunset provision for sector separation. Unless modified, the sector separation measures expire after December 31, 2017, which means the recreational sector would be managed as a single entity again.


The Council is currently working to develop and approve actions to address the management of charter vessel and headboat fishing within the federal for-hire component. If approved by NOAA, these actions likely would not be effective until after the sector separation provisions expire at the end of 2017. Therefore, the Council determined there was a need to extend the sunset provision for an additional five years past the original sunset date.


Proposed Management Measures

The rule would extend the sunset provision from the end of the 2017 fishing year (December 31, 2017) to the end of the 2022 fishing year (December 31, 2022).


How to Submit Comments

NOAA Fisheries must receive comments on this proposed rule no later than October 24, 2016. We will address all comments specifically directed to Amendment 45 or the proposed rule in the final rule.* NOAA Fisheries encourages constituents to access the proposed rule and Amendment 45 for more complete information at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2016/am45/index.html or the e-Rulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov.


You may submit comments on the proposed rule, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2016-0089, by any of the following methods:

Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to

http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0089, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.


Mail: Submit written comments to Peter Hood, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701-5505.


Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).


*Note that if your comments on Amendment 45 and the proposed rule are the same, you only need to submit one set of comments.


Louisiana Oysters

Louisiana Oysters Credit: Paula Ouder

On September 1, 2016, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission set the 2016/2017 oyster seasons based on the annual oyster stock assessment provided by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists and comments received from members of the public, including the oyster industry.


The following opening dates were set for the upcoming oyster season:

·    Wednesday, September 7, 2016 – Bay Junop Public Oyster Seed Reservation, Lake Mechant Public Oyster Seed Grounds, and Vermilion/East and West Cote Blanche/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds will open at one-half hour before sunrise.  No harvest of oysters for market sales is allowed on any public oyster area prior to the second Monday in October.  Therefore, any and all vessels harvesting on the open public oyster seed grounds between September 7, 2016 and October 9, 2016, both dates inclusive, shall be harvesting seed oysters for bedding purposes only and shall not have sacks or other containers typically used to hold oysters on board the harvest vessel.


·    Monday, November 14, 2016  –  The Bay Long/American Bay sacking-only area and Hackberry Bay will open at one-half hour before sunrise. 


·    Tuesday, November 15, 2016  –  Hackberry Bay (sacking-only)

·    Season delayed until further notice – all Public Oyster Seed Grounds East of the Mississippi River and north of a line extending east from the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet at latitude 29 degrees 42 minutes 56.74 seconds N latitude (including Drum Bay sacking-only area).  The cause of that delay is described below.


During the 2016/2017 open oyster season, the following provisions shall be in effect:

1.  Any vessel from which any person(s) takes or attempts to take oysters from the public oyster seed grounds and reservations described above shall:

a.  Be limited to a daily take and possession limit not to exceed 50 sacks of oysters per vessel.  A sack of oysters for the purposes of this declaration of emergency shall be defined as the size described in R. S. 56:440.  The daily take and possession limit shall not apply to vessels harvesting seed oysters for bedding purposes.  The possession limit shall not apply to vessels operating under a valid Oyster Cargo Vessel Permit.
b.  Be limited to either harvesting market oysters for direct sale (sacking) or harvesting seed oysters for bedding purposes on any one day and is specifically prohibited from doing both on the same day.

2.  If any person on a vessel takes or attempts to take oysters from the public oyster seed grounds or reservations described above, all oysters contained on that vessel shall be deemed to have been taken from said seed ground or reservation from the time harvest begins until all oysters are off-loaded dockside.
3.  Prior to leaving public seed grounds or reservations with oysters harvested from said seed ground or reservation: all oysters must be sacked, the number of sacks shall be recorded in a log book, and each sack shall be properly tagged.
4.  All vessels located in public seed grounds or reservations during those times between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise shall have all oyster dredges unshackled.

The following areas shall remain closed for the 2016/2017 oyster season:

·      The area east of the Mississippi River and south of a line extending east from the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet at latitude 29 degrees 42 minutes 56.74 seconds N latitude, excluding the American Bay area listed above

·      The Bay Gardene and Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservations

·      The Little Lake, Barataria Bay, Deep Lake, Lake Chien, Lake Felicity, and Lake Tambour Public Oyster Seed Grounds


The opening of the season in the following area is delayed until further notice:

·      all Public Oyster Seed Grounds East of the Mississippi River and north of a line extending east from the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet at latitude 29 degrees 42 minutes 56.74 seconds N latitude, including the Drum Bay sacking-only area


This oyster season delay is necessary due to extensive oyster mortality observed throughout the area and also to protect a recent spat set in order to increase the likelihood of spat survival and facilitate resource recovery.  Protection of the remaining oyster resource is in the long-term best interest of the public oyster seed grounds in this area.  Data indicating the need for this season delay was collected on September 1, 2016.


Seasons were not set for the Sabine Lake or Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster Areas.


Closure dates, adjustments in sack limits and/or sacking-only areas will be determined by LDWF Secretary Melancon on an “as needed” basis, based on biological and harvest data, or if enforcement issues are encountered.  The Secretary is also authorized by the Commission to take emergency action to reopen areas previously closed if the threat to the resource has ended, and to open public areas if substantial oyster resources are located. 


Public notice of any opening, delay, or closure of a season will be provided at least 72 hours prior to such action, unless such closure is ordered by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for public health concerns.