Historic Sinking of the USCGC Mohawk
Creates First Dedicated Veterans Memorial Reef using a Military Ship
Coastal Conservation Association Florida and the Lee County Department of Natural Resources partnered to deploy the USCGC Mohawk to its final resting place. The 165-foot World War II Coast Guard Cutter, "Mohawk" was the last remaining ship of the Battle of the Atlantic. The Mohawk was laid to rest in 90 feet of water on July 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM roughly 28 nautical miles off of Sanibel Island on Floridas southwest coast, creating the first Veterans Memorial Reef dedicated to all U.S. veterans. The reef will be the new home to untold numbers of fish and other invertebrates living in the Gulf of Mexico.
CCA Florida chartered the 90 "Great Getaway" that transported over 100 passengers to the deployment site. The passengers included USCG 2nd Class Petty Officer Edward March who served on the Mohawk for 15 months during WWII, his family, local veterans, members of the media, local and state dignitaries and elected officials as well as CCA members from across the state of Florida. â€œThe feeling was surreal as the cutter slipped below the surface,â€ said CCA Chairman Jeff Miller. â€œThis moment marked the ending to a long and historical life above water and the beginning of a new life as an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico.â€
Fisherman and scuba divers alike are very excited about the new artificial reef. â€œWith more fish in the Gulf of Mexico comes the need for more habitat,â€ said Don Roberts, CCA Florida Habitat Chairman. â€œThe sinking of the Mohawk will bring a new home to fish and marine life as well as new opportunities for fishermen and scuba divers from all over the world. The ship was an amazing site and looked as if she was ready for action.â€ The Mohawk was laid to rest with a fresh coat of wartime camouflage paint along with her anchor chains, props, replica guns, replica depth charges and a even a new whale boat was added. The official name of the reef is the U.S.S. Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef and the coordinates are 82°43'42.347"W 26°33'14.64"N.
The Mohawk was built in 1934 for patrol and icebreaking duties in the Hudson and Delaware rivers. During WWII, the USS Mohawk was commissioned for escort operations and traveled the world defending her country until 1945. The Mohawk launched 14 attacks on German submarines, rescued more than 300 survivors from torpedoed ships and was the last vessel to radio Gen. Dwight Eisenhower that the weather would be clear enough to launch the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
â€œCCA Florida was honored to have the opportunity to participate in this historical event,â€ said Brian Gorski, CCA Florida Executive Director. â€œCCA Florida would like to thank Mike Campbell and the Lee County Department of Natural Resources for all of their time and effort in establishing the U.S.S. Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef.â€
CCA Florida salutes the members that served on the USCGC Mohawk along with all other service men and women that have served or are currently serving to protect the United States of America.
Southeast Fishery Bulletin
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
727-824-5305, FAX 727-824-5308 FB12-048
NOAA Fisheries Service Announces an Extension to the
Gulf of Mexico Recreational Red Snapper Season
NOAA Fisheries Service announces that the closure date for the Gulf of Mexico recreational red snapper season is being extended six days. The new closure time is 12:01 a.m. local time, July 17, 2012.
Landings and effort data are not available in-season to estimate if the recreational red snapper quota will be met on July 10. However, the north-central Gulf of Mexico has experienced extended severe weather during the first 26 days of the 2012 recreational red snapper fishing season, including Tropical Storm Debby. A substantial portion of recreational red snapper harvest in the Gulf of Mexico comes from the north-central Gulf of Mexico, thus NOAA Fisheries Service expects fishing effort and landings have been less than initially projected.
Wind speed and wave height data from four buoys stationed throughout the Gulf of Mexico were used as proxies for determining days when fishing did not occur or when effort was reduced. Wave height was the most consistent difference between 2011 and 2012. Days with wave heights greater than 4
feet was used as the proxy to indicate fishing days lost. Weather was not as much of a factor in the western Gulf of Mexico, and this was considered in the calculations as well. Assuming weather in the eastern Gulf of Mexico will improve, and fishing effort returns to expected rates, NOAA Fisheries Service projects the recreational fishing season for the entire Gulf of Mexico can be extended an additional six days.
This bulletin provides only a summary of the information regarding the rule. Any discrepancies between this bulletin and the rule published in the Federal Register will be resolved in favor of the Federal Register.
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6919 Portwest, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77024
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2012 CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH
Florida Senators Join Call for Snapper Season Extension
Stretch of bad weather impacts already short Gulf red snapper season
WASHINGTON, DC â€“ A stubborn tropical system that impacted the eastern Gulf of Mexico for more than a week in late June put a significant dent in the shortest red snapper season on record and prompted Floridas two U.S. Senators to write a letter to the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requesting an extension to the season.
â€œWeve spoken at length about the red snapper fishery and its economic impact in the state of Florida. Fishing is more than a job in the Gulf of Mexico â€“ it is a way of life,â€ wrote Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. â€œShortened seasons, decreased bag limits, and closures severely impact these coastal communities. We urge you to ensure that fishermen arent unfairly disadvantaged by weather that is out of their control, and extend the red snapper season accordingly.â€
The request by Nelson and Rubio is accompanied by a similar letter from 17 members of the U.S. House of Representatives also seeking an extension of the season.
â€œYou cant do anything about the weather and even without a tropical system stirring things up, you can lose a lot of days out on the water just because of high wind and waves,â€ said Jeff Miller, chairman of CCA Florida and owner of Millers Boating Center in Ocala, Florida. â€œA 40-day season does not leave much margin for error, and to be kept off the water for a week or more really impacts this region economically. I am glad that our elected officials are keeping an eye on this and thank them for going to bat for us. Hopefully NOAA Fisheries is listening.â€
Compounding anglers frustration is mounting evidence that the snapper population is the healthiest it is been in recent history, with fishermen finding snapper in places they have never appeared before and catching the two-fish limit literally in minutes.
â€œYou cant get a bait past them if you can get out there,â€ said Miller. â€œBeyond the impact of this recent spate of bad weather, someone really needs to look at how we are managing this fishery. Im all for rebuilding the fishery and proceeding with caution, but the current regulations seem way behind the curve. This is a success story for fisheries management, but they are still clamping down on it like its a collapsed stock. It just doesnt make sense.â€
The 2012 red snapper season opened on June 1 and is scheduled to close around July 11. To see a copy of the Nelson/Rubio letter, click HERE.
6919 Portwest, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77024
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2012 CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH
CCA applauds Idle Iron language in Sportsmens Act
Legislation takes valuable step in protecting marine habitat
As a result of consistent pressure and engagement by Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and its partners, language that begins to address the critical issue of Gulf rig and platform removals has been included in the Sportsmen's Act of 2012. Congressional Sportsman Caucus Chairs Senators Jon Tester (D-Mt) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 as an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill (S. 3240) this week.
â€œThere is an immediate need to halt these removals and CCA is actively working to put a moratorium in place,â€ said Pat Murray, president of CCA National. â€œAs part of that overall strategy, this legislation includes a new plan for the Department of Interior to send a report to Congress on how it is going to assess this critical habitat before indiscriminately ripping out these artificial reefs. Something has to be done to make the federal government realize it is making a horrible mistake destroying this valuable habitat.â€
In a misguided response to the 2010 Gulf oil spill, the U.S. Department of Interior issued the Idle Iron directive in October of 2010 ordering that all non-producing rigs and platforms be plugged and any remaining structure removed within five years of the issuance of that directive. Since then, CCA has worked on and supported a number of efforts to derail the negative impacts of the Idle Iron Policy, including the Rigs to Reefs Habitat Protection Act filed by U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-Ms), the recent decision by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to begin the process of classifying rigs and other vital artificial reefs as Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), and letters of opposition from Texas Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) to the Department of Interior. Earlier this week, CCA and a coalition of marine conservation, tackle and boating industry groups called for a moratorium on the Idle Iron Policy in a letter to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar,
â€œInclusion of Idle Iron language in the Sportsmens Act is yet another step towards our goal and we are grateful to Senators Tester and Thune for including this section in the Sportsmens Package. It raises the visibility of an issue that is of great importance to recreational anglers,â€ said Murray.
Passage of the Sportsmens Act would require the Department of Interior (DOI) to coordinate with relevant federal and state agencies and accredited marine research institutes to assess the biodiversity and critical habitat present at platforms and related structures subject to removal, and assess the potential impacts of their removal. DOI would also have to develop a report on the potential impacts that the removal of those structures would have on the rebuilding plans for Gulf reef fish and habitat. Ultimately, the Secretary of Interior would also have to submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives a final report that includes a description of public comments from regional stakeholders, including recreational anglers, divers, offshore oil and gas companies, marine biologists, and commercial fisherman, as well as options to mitigate potential adverse impacts on marine habitat associated with that removal.
The Sportsmens Act of 2012 contains a number of other components beneficial to hunting and recreational fishing and shooting. In addition to the Idle Iron language, the Act also contains a section containing the Billfish Conservation Act and a section that specifically excludes ammo and fishing tackle from the Toxic Substances Control Act.
6919 Portwest, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77024
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 18, 2012 CONTACT: Ted Venker, 1-800-201-FISH
Economic studies make convincing case for reallocation
Mountain of evidence points to allocation increases for recreational anglers in the Gulf
With the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council set to review allocations for Gulf red snapper and grouper during its meeting this week in Tampa, Coastal Conservation Association has presented a summary of 19 studies going back to 2000 that show the economic benefits of shifting a greater portion of the allocation of these two species to the recreational sector. All of the studies, conducted by private, academic and government scientists, have been presented to the Gulf Council previously and the Council has chosen to take no affirmative action.
"We're not talking about one or two studies, we're talking about an overwhelming body of work spanning more than a decade by some of the most respected economists in fisheries management," said Chester Brewer, chairman of CCAs National Government Relations Committee. "The best available economic science clearly supports increasing the recreational allocation. It is difficult to understand why NOAA Fisheries has not acted on these studies before now to produce the best possible outcome for the economies of the Gulf states and for the nation."
CCA supports basing allocations on modern economic and demographic criteria that reflect current and future realities for these fisheries rather than outdated catch histories. Management schemes that give away public resources through measure such as sector separation and catch shares lock-in outdated allocations to individual businesses, making those resources subsequently unavailable to respond to economic and demographic changes.
"We urge NOAA Fisheries to use the considerable economic information it has in hand to increase opportunities for the entire recreational sector, comprised of hundreds of thousands of anglers," said Brewer. "Recreational angling is an economic engine that should be enhanced during these tough economic times that are impacting every sector of our society. These 19 studies indicate that a relatively simple allocation shift would immediately produce economic benefits to anglers and the businesses that depend on them."
CCA supplied the summary of economic data to Gulf Council members and NOAA staff in a letter to Council Chairman Robert Gill and urged the Council to act on the information to look objectively towards maximizing the benefits generated for the entire nation by these valuable marine resources.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Ted Forsgren
March 5, 2012 (407)702-3567
CCA FLORIDA CONFRONTS THE LATEST ATTEMPT BY COMMERCIAL NETTERS TO CIRCUMVENT THE GILL NET BAN
Once again a small group of commercial netters are trying to get the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to allow larger mesh sizes in nets so they can be used as gill nets. The netters are now going to local county commissions and asking them to approve resolutions to the FWC urging them to increase the allowable mesh size. The netting group is not telling the whole story.
â€œCCA Florida has sent letters to the Governors Office and to all coastal County Commissioners providing information regarding the prohibition on the use of gill netsâ€, said Jeff Miller, CCA Florida Chairman of the Board. â€œWe are concerned that Collier and other county commissions are not familiar with the history of FWC actions and the legal findings of fact in the previous lawsuits, so we have prepared a package of information on the past decisions that we have sent to the coastal County Commissionsâ€.
The measures being pushed by the netting group include a resolution which would allow net fishers to use a larger size mesh in their nets. However; all the current and best scientific information and testimony indicates that marine nets with mesh sizes exceeding two inches are gill nets. The critical factor in determining whether a net is a seine net or a gill net is mesh size. Modifying regulations to allow nets which exceed two inches stretched mesh would not be allowed by the net limitation amendment. Net studies, expert testimony and all court cases agree on that point.
In November 1994 an overwhelming 72 percent of Floridas voters said yes to the constitutional amendment limiting marine net fishing. The amendment includes both a prohibition on the use of gill and entangling nets in all state waters and a size limit on other nets. Although the restrictions have been in place for nearly 16 years, there are still factions within the commercial industry who refuse to accept the legal reality that the constitutional prohibition on gill nets means no gill nets.
The last time the netting group went to the FWC in 2008 their request to increase the mesh sizes was again rejected by the Commission. Here are two of the strong comments made by Commissioners at that meeting.
â€œThis is not a science question, the resource has rebounded. This constitutional amendment passed by a remarkable margin and our predecessors created a bright line definition, done objectively, and upheld in litigation,â€ said FWC Commissioner Ken Wright. â€œI am adamantly in favor of keeping the current two inch regulation. We are Trustees of a decision and bound to follow the will of the peopleâ€.
â€œGoing to a larger mesh size has the intent of creating a gill net. We cant point to a dog and call it a cat,â€ said FWC Commissioner Brian Yablonski. â€œWe are bound by duty to the law and must respect the rule of lawâ€.
Since 1994, there have been numerous lawsuits, attempts to create enforcement loopholes, and outright scams all designed to invalidate or circumvent provisions of the constitutional amendment. All have failed. The Florida Legislature, Florida Courts, and state agencies have upheld the clear intent of Florida voters.
â€œCCA Florida will continue to be the outspoken advocate and protector of the Constitutional Amendment which prohibits the use of gill nets and other damaging netsâ€ said CCA Florida Chairman Jeff Miller.
For more information or to join CCA Florida, please visit CCA Floridas website at www.ccaflorida.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Ted Forsgren
April 7, 2012 (407)702-3567
OPPOSE THE TRANSFERABILITY OF FOOD SHRIMPING PERMITS IN TAMPA BAY!
We urge all conservation minded recreational fishers and other conservation groups to send emails opposing the transfer of food shrimping permits.
CCA Florida strongly opposes the transferability of food shrimping permits in Tampa Bay. Those remaining permits should have been phased out years ago, as was planned, by the Marine Fisheries Commission. Otter trawls and other net gear for food shrimping are some of the most damaging and wasteful types of commercial gear. In the early 1990s, the number of food shrimpers had grown substantially. Anglers and other conservationists had become concerned about the damage to sea grasses and the by-kill damage to juvenile fish. When the issue was brought before the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC), the Commissioners were also concerned about the damage caused by the shrimpers. The MFC reached a compromise with the Tampa Bay shrimpers that the existing food shrimpers would be required to get a permit and when the shrimper decided to stop shrimping the permit would expire. The Marine Fisheries Commission was the precursor agency to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
The FWC staff recommendation will prevent the phase out of food shrimping in the bay. Allowing the transfer of permits, and likely sale, will make it difficult to remove the food shrimpers and their damaging gear. Those who pay to enter the fishery will fight to prevent ending the program if tranferability occurs. In addition there is a possibility of more shrimpers demanding to be included in the program.
The remaining food shrimpers have had 20 years to amortize their original investments. They have had exclusive commercial access to that public resource over that time period. It is time to get all the food shrimpers out of Tampa Bay.
CCA OPPOSES PLAN TO INCREASE REGULATIONS IN KINGS BAY
Dear CCA members,
CCA Florida has recently sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) opposing their plan to increase the manatee regulations in Kings Bay, Crystal River on the basis that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) state regulations already cover all of the areas that are proposed for additional regulations. CCA ultimately is concerned over angler access to these areas and the Gulf of Mexico. The USFWS proposal has caused a huge backlash among many interested groups. The Crystal River City Council and the Citrus County Commission have both voted unanimously to oppose the proposed plan. Anglers and other boaters have showed up in large numbers at public hearings to oppose the federal plan. These unwarranted additional federal regulations will undermine the support of local government and other groups which are necessary to maintain long term protection of manatees and access for water users.
The link below is a petition that has been created by the Save Crystal River group. Please help out your CCA Florida members that live and play in Crystal River by clicking on the link to help keep more unnecessary federal regulations out of state waters.