Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 

Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) recently authored H.R. 2023, a bill known as “The Modern Fisheries Act”- but is quite the opposite. The bill rolls back many of the fishery protections that we've relied on for the past 4 decades.

Conservation efforts under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is the main federal law overseeing our fisheries, have brought back over 40 species of fish from collapse. Over 50 more species are in the process of rebuilding. Frequently consumed fish such as black sea bass, red grouper and summer flounder have seen complete recoveries after a lack of management led to their collapse in the first place.

The Modern Fisheries Act ironically takes a step back in time by eliminating some of the most crucial components of successful management, such as annual catch limits, in order to appease small private interest groups. Let Congress know that you will not stand for this.
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Mike's 33 lb. Flathead catfish April 2017

Mike Blackwell of McHenry Ms. , a passionate advocate for Red Creek, passed away on May first after emergency heart surgery. In his 7 decades of time on earth he explored and fished on Red Creek for more than 50 years. In his retirement, he lived in his camp on the Creek in Jackson County and split his time among trot-line fishing for flathead catfish, helping renovate creek camps for his friends and family, and organizing his neighbors to petition the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to identify and remedy the sediment problem on Red Creek that comes from incompatible land uses and wetland destruction caused by an upstream recreation business.  Mike lived more than 10 miles downstream from the source of sediment and runoff, but expressed to me more than once that the layers of mud that now coat the sandbars on the Creek down near his camp were...

 

Name: Anitra Woods 

GRN Partner OrganizationBayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)

Hometown: Thibodaux, Louisiana

Parish: Lafourche

At the rate of a football field per hour, Louisiana’s coast is rapidly vanishing. Residents in our coastal parishes stand firm on the frontlines. They live with the knowledge that sea level rise, coastal erosion, and intensified storms threaten their homes and their way of life. In the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, our state has proposed “nonstructural” options for responding to these threats, including resources for voluntary buyouts from their homes and assistance with floodproofing and elevation. According to the state of Louisiana, if an area would flood more than 14 feet during a 100 year storm event, that area is deemed an unsafe and not resilient community. The state calls these areas “Resettlement Zones.” To ensure that communities are prepared for the future and understand where predicted Resettlement Zones will be,...

 

Name: Sang Ho 

Interview Date: April 5, 2017

GRN Partner Organization: Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation (MQVNCDC)

Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana

Parish: Orleans

Everyday, Louisiana loses football fields of its coastal wetlands. Few know this as well as the fishermen whose work depends on the Gulf’s waters. They live with the knowledge that sea level rise, coastal erosion, and intensified storms threaten their homes and their way of life. In the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, our state has proposed “nonstructural” options for responding to these threats, including resources for voluntary buyouts from their homes and assistance with floodproofing and elevation. According to the state of Louisiana, if an area would flood more than 14 feet during a 100 year storm event, that area is deemed an unsafe and not resilient community. The state calls these areas “Resettlement Zones.” To ensure that communities are prepared for the future...

 

Name: Clarence Brocks

GRN Community Partner Organization: Zion Travelers Cooperative Center (ZTCC)

Hometown: Phoenix, Louisiana

Parish: Plaquemine

Louisiana’s coast is disappearing at an unprecedented rate. People residing in our coastal parishes bear witness to these changes from the frontlines. Sea level rise, coastal erosion, and intensified storms threaten their homes and their way of life. In the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, our state has proposed nonstructural options for responding to these threats, including resources for voluntary buyouts from their homes and assistance with floodproofing and elevation. According to the state of Louisiana, if an area would flood more than 14 feet during a 100 year storm event, that area is deemed an unsafe and not resilient community. The state calls these areas “Resettlement Zones.” To ensure that communities are prepared for the future and understand where predicted Resettlement Zones will be, Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) has created ...

 

MSU Nutrient Management Poster from MWRC 2017

This annual Water Resources Conference is hosted by Mississippi State University’s Water Resources Research Institute and provides one of the main ways to keep up with groundwater and surface water issues in the state. It was held at the Jackson Hilton Hotel April 11-12.


Much of the conference’s emphasis was on consumptive groundwater use in the state’s “Delta” region - the center of large scale row-crop commodity agriculture. The Mississippi Alluvial Plain (MAP) aquifer irrigates corn, soybeans and cotton and fills catfish ponds in a cluster of counties in the central Delta. Under this region, a cone of depression and lowered water table exist caused by wide-scale pumping and comparatively slow groundwater recharge.  Several United States Geological Survey scientists addressed this problem.  Ideas set forth to solve overuse of the aquifer include irrigation efficiency, tail-water recovery and on-farm surface storage, constructing weirs (short dams) on local streams to create...

 

Name: Donald Bogen, Jr.
Organization: Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)
Hometown: Thibodaux, Louisiana
Parish: Lafourche

Louisiana’s loses a football field of coastal wetlands every hour. Everyday, those who live in our parishes on the coast are visibly confronted with the knowledge that sea level rise, coastal erosion, and intensified storms threaten their homes and their way of life.

In the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, our state has proposed “nonstructural” options
for responding to these threats, including resources for voluntary buyouts from their homes and assistance with floodproofing and elevation. According to the state of Louisiana, if an area would flood more than 14 feet during a 100 year storm event, that area is deemed an unsafe and not resilient community. The state calls these areas “Resettlement Zones.” To ensure that communities are prepared for the future and understand where predicted Resettlement Zones will be, Gulf Restoration Network...

 

Comments from the CoastHere in the Gulf, every day our seas are rising, our lands are sinking, and our communities face bigger and bigger flood risks.

In 2017 our communities most at risk are being declared “Resettlement Zones” by the Louisiana Office of Community Development. The recently revised Louisiana Coastal Master Plan has proposed nonstructural options for responding to these threats, including resources for voluntary buyouts from their homes and assistance with floodproofing and elevation. Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) has created a series of maps representing communities that have been declared Resettlement Zones in order to ensure that residents are prepared for the future.

These towns are anchor communities for our fishing industries and our local food production. They are not at the end of the road, they are at the beginning of the water. As the seas have risen, these communities have...

 

In March, Senator Richard Shelby (AL) announced that the funding has been secured for a $9.5 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant program to help improve fishery management in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA will accept proposals from the community on how to better conduct stock surveys, with an emphasis on surveying areas that aren’t currently done by NOAA, such as artificial reefs. The stock assessments will help to give NOAA a better idea as to where we are in the process of rebuilding the red snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing them to make more accurate management decisions moving forward.

This program, championed by Senator Shelby, is an encouraging step toward conservation of our marine ecosystems during a period of uncertainty for our nation’s environmental landscape. Under the extremely successful Magnuson-Stevens Act, almost 100 species have either been rebuilt or are in the process of...

 
Isle

Louisiana has a new draft of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. The 2017 plan is focused on improving the ability of Louisiana’s coastal communities to face rising seas and increasing storms. The Master Plan proposes a combination of restoration projects, levees or other structural projects and a “nonstructural” (flood risk reduction) approaches to protect our coastal communities as we face continuing wetlands loss, rising seas, and increasing storms.  

However, many hurricane seasons will come and go before the Master Plan’s restoration, levee and other structural projects are completed. In the meantime, the state must prioritize and fund flood risk reduction programs, such as elevating homes and flood-proofing buildings, in our state’s most at-risk communities.   

Gulf Restoration Network, in coalition with the Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO), Coastal Communities Consulting, Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), Grand Bayou Village Tribe, Oxfam America, Terrebonne Readiness Assistance Coalition (TRAC), and Zion Travelers...

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