Some ask: Is the Gulf cleanup finished?

Finding tar balls linked to the BP oil spill isn’t difficult on some Gulf Coast beaches, but the British oil giant and the government say it isn’t common enough to keep sending out the crews that patrolled the sand for three years in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Tourist John Henson of Atlanta disagrees, particularly after going for a walk in the surf last week and coming back with dark, sticky stains on his feet. Henson said there were plenty of tar balls to remove from the stretch of beach where he spent a few days.

Patrols ended this month


Tarpon, Bonefish to Become Catch-and-Release Only; FWC Considers Tarpon Gear Modifications

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), at its June 12 meeting in Lakeland, approved a proposal to make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only fisheries and moved forward with a proposal to modify the types of gear used to target tarpon in Boca Grande Pass.

This catch-and-release proposal was adopted in recognition of the fact that the economic and fishing value of bonefish and tarpon greatly exceed their value as food fishes.

The following changes will go into effect Sept. 1 in state and federal waters off Florida: 

FWC Approves Easier-to-Follow Marine Fisheries Regulations

Marine fisheries regulations will soon be easier to read, understand and enforce. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at its June 12 meeting in Lakeland approved a proposal that will revise marine fisheries information in portions of 68B of the Florida Administrative Code, providing consistency among regulations and clarifying complex and confusing language. These changes go into effect Sept. 1.


Gulf Recreational Snook Harvest to Reopen Sept. 1

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reviewed and discussed the current status of snook populations in Gulf and Atlantic waters at its June 12 meeting in Lakeland before deciding to allow the recreational harvest of Gulf of Mexico snook to reopen this September. 

The harvest of snook in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters has been closed since early 2010, when a cold snap negatively impacted the population, particularly juvenile snook. In 2012, the Commission extended the temporary closure through Aug. 31, 2013, in an effort to further protect this important species and give it time to recover more fully from the cold snap. 


South Florida Issues Topic of Upcoming Workshops; Share Your Input

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Councils), will host five workshops to gather public input on south Florida marine fisheries regulations and issues.

In 2011, an Ad Hoc Joint Committee composed of the two Councils and the FWC was formed to identify issues in south Florida and create joint management solutions. South Florida waters are managed by the FWC and the Councils. The area is also home to several species that are unique to the region. These workshops are a beginning step into examining issues that are particular to south Florida.

FWC Permanently Waives License Requirement for Lionfish Harvest

Temporary changes making it easier for divers to help control the lionfish population will be put into Florida rule soon.

At its June 12 meeting in Lakeland, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) adopted changes that will waive the recreational license requirement for divers harvesting lionfish using certain gear and exclude lionfish from the commercial and recreational bag limits, allowing people to take as many of the invasive fish as they can.

Prior to the change, recreational anglers could not catch more than 100 pounds of lionfish without being required to have a commercial license.

60,000 LBS. of concrete Sank To Create an Artificial Reef Off the Coast of Ponte Vedra

Twelve miles east of Ponte Vedra heavy blocks of concrete aboard a Coast Guard Cutter were dropped into the ocean.

Joe Kistel, Executive Director of TISIRI, a marine conservation organization, said it was a carefully planned operation.

"Today we are doing something different with the help of the Coast Guard. We are actually going to use these old buoy anchors and what these are the anchors that held navigational aides offshore in place.  The Coast Guard as a maintenance routine has to go and replace these occasionally. So we partnered with the Coast Guard to take these old anchors and to build an artificial reef," said Kistel.

 The 60,000 pounds of concrete are being used to create a relatively small reef next to existing artificial reefs. 

The goal of this reef is research.

BP Oil Spill Cleanup Ending in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, Coast Guard and BP Say

The U.S. Coast Guard and BP announced Monday June 10th that the company will end active Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup operations in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida by mid-June. A Coast Guard news release also said future response efforts in those states, if needed, will no longer be led by its Gulf Coast Incident Management Team, which will continue to oversee cleanup efforts in Louisiana.

Response operations remain active along 84 shoreline miles in Louisiana, according to a BP news release, with another 20 miles in the state awaiting approval as being cleaned or awaiting final monitoring or inspection. There are 18 Coast Guard officials and 87 contract employees working on the Louisiana response, said Lieut. Cmdr. Natalie Murphy, with cleanup operations taking place on Grand Terre Island, Grand Isle, Fourchon Beach, Elmer's Island and part of West Timbalier Island. She said there's still no time frame for the end of response efforts in Louisiana.

Atlantic Sharpnose & Bonnethead Shark Assessment Webinars

The SEDAR assessment of the HMS stocks of Atlantic Sharpnose and Bonnethead sharks will consist of one workshop and a series of Webinars.

The SEDAR Workshop will be held from 9 a.m. on June 25, 2013 until 6 p.m. on June 27, 2013. 

The Workshop will be held at Wyndham Bay Point Resort, 4114 Jan Cooley Drive, Panama City Beach, FL 32408; telephone: (850) 236-6000.

    SEDAR address: 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405.

Natural Resource Trustees to Hold Public Meetings on Gulf of Mexico Restoration

The Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees (Trustees) for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill  announced new opportunities for the public to engage in the early restoration process.

Development of the PEIS will begin with a public scoping period, as prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act. The 60-day scoping period, which extends from June 4 to August 2, 2013, will include the six public meetings listed below: