Archive for the 'NOAA' Category

Is the VOO program hiring commercial fisherman, first?

June 2, 2010

This story from Bayou, Le Batre, Ala. really started the day off.

“At issue, according to those there, is that recreational boat owners are being hired before those who make their livelihoods solely from fishing local waters.”


Evidently, BP’s VOO program is in question, “We are adjusting the vessels of opportunity program to give priority to commercial vessels and fisherman.”

There’s a post in the Louisiana Sportsman forum stating that boat captains could be paid $35/hr just to drive the boat. I wonder what that’s all about.

What does a fishing community look like?

June 2, 2010

Fishing Communities Facts

Many communities in the Gulf of Mexico were
originally founded to exploit the rich marine resources.

Some communities in the Gulf of Mexico, for example,
Empire and Venice in Louisiana, are below sea level
and protected by levies.

In many coastal communities, fishermen can no
longer afford to live near the water because
increasing development and redevelopment of these
areas has raised the cost of living beyond their means.

Seafood processing and sales

In 2006, there were 174 fish processing plants and
255 wholesale businesses located in the Gulf region
that together employed 10,841 workers.

Louisiana had the most wholesaler plants in 2006
(126) that together employed 661 workers, while
Texas had the second highest number (77) that
together employed 825 workers.

Shrimp fishery

The combination of long term increases in expenses
including marine diesel fuel, combined with the
dramatic increase in the amount of relatively cheap
imported farm raised shrimp, is making it very
difficult for many Gulf fishermen to make a living in
commercial fishing. Over 90% of the Nation’s shrimp
supply is now imported.

Vietnamese fishermen are now an important part of
the shrimp fishery in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Recreational fishing

Florida had the most saltwater recreational fishermen
in the United States in 2006: 3.7 million, and another
2.9 million saltwater anglers from other states
reported saltwater fishing trips to Florida in that year.
These recreational fishermen released just over 44%
of their catch in 2006.

Historical context

Coastal dwelling American Indians relied on the Gulf
of Mexico’s inshore marine resources for part of their
subsistence for thousands of years before Europeans
began arriving in the 16th century.

Some of the first scientific studies of the Gulf’s fishery
resources were begun in 1884 by the U.S.
Commission of Fish and Fisheries. They eventually
included surveys of the oyster beds in areas near
Apalachicola, Florida, and inshore waters of Alabama
as well as other areas.
[Source: Gulf Summary Communities]

“Overall, 30 fishing communities in Alabama, 99 in Louisiana, 14 in Mississippi, 68 in Texas, and 119 in West Florida have been profiled by NMFS social scientists because of the nature of their links with commercial and/or recreation fishing. In 2006, 14 United States’ top fifty ports by landings revenue were located in the Gulf region. They were: Bayou La Batre, Alabama; Dulac-Chauvin, Empire-Venice, Golden Meadow-Leeville, Intracoastal City. Lafitte-Barataria. Louisiana: Brownwsville-Port Isabel. Port Arthur, Galveston and Palacios, Texas; and Apalachicola, Fort Myers, Key West, Tampa Bay- st. Petersburg, Florida. On average, the Gulf of Mexico accounted for 21% of U.S. annual landing revenue from 1997-2006.

The Gulf’s top fishing communities were typically smaller towns and villages with populations below 20,000 persons. However, on major metropolitan center approaching 2 million (Houston, Texas), and a few larger coastal cities also have significant fisheries involvement (Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; and Brownsville, Texas) Louisiana’s and Alabama’s top fishing communities are most likely to have populations below 5,000.Nine of Louisiana’s top ten fishing communities and seven of Alabama’s top ten fishing communities fall in this group.”

[Source: NOAA Fisheries Service – Southeast Region – Publications,, Accessed: June 2, 2010. No date cited. See also: Identifying Communities Associated with the Fishing Industry in Louisiana]

What will happen to a hurricane that runs through this oil slick?

June 2, 2010

NOAA’s Oil Spill Questions

What will happen to a hurricane that runs through
this oil slick?

• Most hurricanes span an enormous area of the
ocean (200-300 miles) — far wider than the
current size of the spill.
[*Emphasis LQ: LQ’s note: So the size of both states of West Virginia and Maryland are under 200 – 300 sq miles? I don’t think so.]
• If the slick remains small in comparison to a
typical hurricane’s general environment and size,
the anticipated impact on the hurricane would
be minimal.
• The oil is not expected to appreciably affect either
the intensity or the track of a fully developed
tropical storm or hurricane.
• The oil slick would have little effect on the storm
surge or near-shore wave heights.
What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in
the Gulf?

• The high winds and seas will mix and “weather”
the oil which can help accelerate the
biodegradation process.
• The high winds may distribute oil over a wider
area, but it is difficult to model exactly where the
oil may be transported.
• Movement of oil would depend greatly on the
track of the hurricane.
• Storms’ surges may carry oil into the coastline
and inland as far as the surge reaches. Debris
resulting from the hurricane may be contaminated
by oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident, but
also from other oil releases that may occur during
the storm.
• A hurricane’s winds rotate counter-clockwise.
o A hurricane passing to the west of the oil slick
could drive oil to the coast.
o A hurricane passing to the east of the slick
could drive the oil away from the coast.
o However, the details of the evolution of the
storm, the track, the wind speed, the size, the
forward motion and the intensity are all
unknowns at this point and may alter this
general statement.
(continued on back)
Hurricanes and the Oil Spill
Will the oil slick help or hurt a storm from
developing in the Gulf?

• Evaporation from the sea surface fuels tropical
storms and hurricanes. Over relatively calm water
(such as for a developing tropical depression or
disturbance), in theory, an oil slick could suppress
evaporation if the layer is thick enough, by not
allowing contact of the water to the air.
• With less evaporation one might assume there
would be less moisture available to fuel the
hurricane and thus reduce its strength.
• However, except for immediately near the source,
the slick is very patchy. At moderate wind speeds,
such as those found in approaching tropical
storms and hurricanes, a thin layer of oil such as
is the case with the current slick (except in very
limited areas near the well) would likely break into
pools on the surface or mix as drops in the upper
layers of the ocean. (The heaviest surface slicks,
however, could re-coalesce at the surface after the
storm passes.)
• This would allow much of the water to remain in
touch with the overlying air and greatly reduce
any effect the oil may have on evaporation.
• Therefore, the oil slick is not likely to have a
significant impact on the hurricane.
Will the hurricane pull up
the oil that is below the
surface of the Gulf?

• All of the sampling to date
shows that except near
the leaking well, the
subsurface dispersed oil is in
parts per million levels or less. The hurricane will
mix the waters of the Gulf and disperse the oil
even further.
Have we had experience in the past with
hurricanes and oil spills
• Yes, but our experience has been primarily with oil
spills that occurred because of the storm, not
from an existing oil slick and an ongoing release
of oil from the seafloor.
• The experience from hurricanes Katrina and Rita
(2005) was that oil released during the storms
became very widely dispersed.
• Dozens of significant spills and hundreds of
smaller spills occurred from offshore facilities,
shoreside facilities, vessel sinkings, etc.
Will there be oil in the rain related to
a hurricane?

• No. Hurricanes draw water vapor from a large
area, much larger than the area covered by oil,
and rain is produced in clouds circulating
the hurricane.
Learn more about NOAA’s response to the BP oil
spill at
To learn more about NOAA, visit
May 27, 2010
From the PDF Accessed June 2, 2010
See also 2010 OUTLOOK