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U.S. seafood catch at a 17-year high

CalusaCalusa Posts: 11,881 Officer
The U.S. seafood catch reached a 17-year high in 2011, and Gulf of Mexico fisherman broke some records as well.


MADEIRA BEACH --
2011 was quite a year for commercial fisherman across the country.

The U.S. seafood catch reached a 17-year high, and Gulf of Mexico fisherman broke some records as well.

Dean Pruitt has been a commercial fisherman in Pinellas County for 30 years.

Pruitt has several boats, they go out for days, and during a good year they bring back thousands of pounds of fish at a time.

“Getting that fresh local fish means a lot like Frenchy’s seafood, Crabby Bill’s, and Dockside Dave’s,” said Dean Pruitt.

New numbers show all of the fishing regions in the country saw an increase in volume and value of their harvest in 2011.

In the Gulf, it was the best year since 1999.

“That means the average person can eat more fresh fish off the boat locally, you know. Before you would go to a restaurant and ask the guy at the restaurant is the fish local? No it’s imported,” said Pruitt.

Pruitt said the fishing in the Gulf is quite different than it was just a couple of years shortly after the oil spill.

Pruitt said safe fishing waters aren’t the only improvement.

He said a 10-year plan to regulate the business has allowed the fish to multiply in bunches. This means there’s more fish out there to catch.

“It put stiff regulations where we just couldn’t catch what we wanted,” Pruitt said, “and now just fishing is so good I say fishing is twice as good as it was five years ago.”

Pruitt spent this Sunday afternoon waiting for his latest boat to come in.

The boat had about 10,000 pounds of his yearly grouper quota onboard, an indication 2012 is also going to be one to remember.

In all, last year’s Gulf catch was about two billion pounds.

Although more has been caught, Americans ate 15 pounds of seafood on average in 2011, down about a pound from 2010.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/news/baynews9/news/article.html/content/news/articles/bn9/2012/9/23/u_s_seafood_catch_at.html

Replies

  • Tom HiltonTom Hilton Posts: 1,594 Captain
    Here's a video uploaded by the Environmental Defense Fund featuring Mr. Pruitt;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i5iybR9GC8


    Here's an article on how Mr. Pruitt was sent to prison for violating fisheries regulations;

    http://www.sptimes.com/2005/12/08/State/Felon_helps_draft_gro.shtml

    ST. PETERSBURG - One of the architects of a $35-million plan to help the embattled grouper fishing industry was once sent to federal prison for his role in a criminal conspiracy involving illegal grouper fishing.

    Dean A. Pruitt, 46, of Clearwater admitted to using "deceit, craft, trickery, and dishonesty" to undermine federal enforcement of grouper regulations in the early 1990s.

    Pruitt, who spent four months in federal prison, is part of a nine-member committee that helped the Southern Offshore Fishing Association, based in Madeira Beach, draft a plan to "buy back" some federal fishing permits.

    The idea is to reduce the number of fishermen and make the industry more profitable for those who remain.

    "To have individuals like that on the committee certainly undermines the credibility of the proposed buyout," said Ted Forsgren, executive director for the Florida Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association.

    "I hope our elected officials reject this plan outright," he said. "It will do nothing for conservation."

    Pruitt, contacted Wednesday, admitted he made a mistake and said he was sorry for his actions.

    "I was kind of wild back then," he said, "but I've since gotten married to a wonderful woman and have grown up. I'm not a perfect citizen, but every day I try to be."

    Opponents of the taxpayer-financed buyback will meet in Madeira Beach next week to present an alternative plan they say will preserve grouper stocks and the livelihoods of small, independent fishermen.

    Florida's commercial longline fleet, which relies on boats that lay miles of fishing line rigged with thousands of hooks on the sea floor, has been the subject of controversy for more than a decade.

    Environmentalists and recreational anglers believe longlines kill indiscriminately, without regard for size, sex or species.

    It was a series of incidents involving longline fishing that brought Pruitt to the attention of federal authorities in the early 1990s.

    He and his brother, Douglas L. Pruitt, 40, ultimately pleaded guilty in 1993 to fishing in areas they knew were closed to longlines, federal records show.

    When the Coast Guard approached, the Pruitts would warn each other with a system of whistles broadcast over their VHF radios, according to federal records.

    The Pruitts also instructed their crew to paint buoys marking the long lines a dark color so they would not be seen by law enforcement officers, the records say.

    The crew also was told if federal officials approached, they were to hide longline gear beneath ice in the hold of the vessel to avoid detection, the records show.

    If the longlines were in the water, they were to cut the longline gear loose and tell authorities they were fishing for shark, not grouper, the records say.

    On Sept. 19, 1990, Douglas L. Pruitt reportedly told his crew to throw overboard a longline baited with illegal undersized grouper to keep the Coast Guard from getting it, federal records show.

    Dean and Douglas Pruitt both served four months in federal prison for their crimes.

    Dean Pruitt was the subject of a recent series of St. Petersburg Times stories that detailed the saga of one his fishing boats that sank during a recent hurricane.

    Bob Spaeth, spokesman for the offshore fishing association, said he saw no problem with Pruitt serving on the buyback committee.

    "He made a mistake and did his time," Spaeth said. "He knows a lot about fishing and that is what is important."

    The buyout plan also has been criticized by members of the commercial fishing industry.

    "This plan is a thinly veiled initiative by large scale dealers and longline operators to circumvent the regulatory process," Martin Fisher and William Tucker wrote in an open letter to their fellow commercial fishermen. "They have enlisted the support of Congressman (C.W. Bill) Young to enact legislation that will enable them to further monopolize the grouper quota."
    Fishermen who hold federal reef fish permits were asked to vote on the buyout proposal earlier this fall.

    The results of the referendum were 38 percent in favor and 62 percent opposed. But those initial results will not stand.

    The marine fisheries service, one of two federal agencies the Pruitts admitted defrauding, will "weight" the votes based on the catch history of the permit holders.

    The Times, under the Freedom of Information Act, has asked for documents detailing how the "weighting" process will be determined, but that request so far has been denied.

    James Fensom, a former member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council currently under consideration for a circuit judgeship in Panama City, was highly critical of the longline buyout in a February letter to Gov. Jeb Bush.

    "The current push for a partial bottom longline buyout will be of no benefit to the status of the grouper stock," Fensom wrote. "Bottom longline fishermen have resisted regulations for years and have argued that there is not a problem in the fishery. They now acknowledge the over capacity of the longline fishermen and seek a buyout."

    "Those who support the partial buyout," Fenson wrote, "have been hoodwinked."
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 12,379 AG
    So? Tell us again how the current system keeps a brother down and the old system didn't?

    Buying a permit or buying shares still depends on somebody willing to sell and a buyer willing to pay the price. ACME don't seem to grasp that concept.
    BTW, don't see y'all *****in about the blue crab deal for Fl. Runs along the same veins but maybe it's not worth your time, ya know it don't affect you bottom line.....

    That's what it is really all about... You boys ain't no different than those you despise except you one of the have nots....

    Vested interest,,, They got it, you don't.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • ANUMBER1 wrote: »
    So? Tell us again how the current system keeps a brother down and the old system didn't?

    Buying a permit or buying shares still depends on somebody willing to sell and a buyer willing to pay the price. ACME don't seem to grasp that concept.
    BTW, don't see y'all *****in about the blue crab deal for Fl. Runs along the same veins but maybe it's not worth your time, ya know it don't affect you bottom line.....

    That's what it is really all about... You boys ain't no different than those you despise except you one of the have nots....

    Vested interest,,, They got it, you don't.

    I grasp it just fine, Thank You. Before IFQ's in the GOM, a Permit Holder could go out and catch fish, bring it back and sell it. After the IFQ,
    this only could happen IF he could get "Shares" on top of that. Since 60% of the permit owners were not allowed to participate in the
    referendum that determined the fate of their own fishery, it now meant their were completely at the mercy of those 40% willing to play.
    They already had one hoop to jump through, now its a whole obsticle course. Of coarse add on top of that the additional cost associated
    with this new game, and less are able to participate....but thats what Catch Shares were intended to do was'nt it?

    As to the 17 year high.....notice what also hit an all time record? Imports. The all time high cost of US produced seafood as a result of
    the high cost of doing business in the Catch Share, Market Based, management Scheme has driven Domestic Seafood cost ever upward.
    That may be good for the now fewer number of commercial fishermen that have a guarenteed quota of the public resource (which they did
    not have to pay for), and less competition (which Catch Shares produces)......but its not so good for the American Seafood Consumer who
    is now forced to shell out (pun???) more money to pay for the Catch SHare fish, or by cheaper imports. The results?? A record high import
    rate of seafood that most in the struggling economy can afford.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 12,379 AG
    So, you don't think that higher operating costs(Fuel for example) doesn't have an effect on consumer prices?
    17 year high with record imports as well means seafood consumption is going up.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 12,379 AG
    Why aren't you complaining about the blue crab, stone crab, spiney lobster plans, all which rely on a willing seller. Same thing with clam leases. Some of the more desirable leases are going for around 50k.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • BlindmulletBlindmullet Posts: 106 Deckhand
    IFQ program seems to be working well on the fishing side. I don't agree with money from the NE owning shares, but the fishing side is better than it has been in decades.

    Fish go overseas for more money.
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