Louisiana Shrimp FIP Receives High Ratings For Progress in 2015

Shrimp is the largest fishery in Louisiana, with 109 million pounds worth approximately $227 million landed in the state in 2014. Sustainability is vital to keep the delicious shrimp harvested in Louisiana and Gulf waters available for consumption, to ensure the health of the ecosystem, and to support the livelihood of the shrimpers who work so hard to bring America’s most popular seafood to the docks.

In 2010, a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) for Louisiana shrimp was initiated by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) in collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries,  Paul Piazza & Son, Inc,  Gulf Island Shrimp, and National Fish & Seafood. The FIP was successful in meeting its original improvement goals, including the development of a Louisiana Shrimp Fishery Management Plan, which was released in May 2015.

In summer of 2015, SFP passed their role in the FIP on to Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.). In fall 2015, two sustainability assessments were carried out for the Louisiana shrimp fishery highlighting the significant steps taken by the fishery and identifying remaining areas with opportunity for improvement.

Last week, during a session at Seafood Expo North America, SFP gave the FIP high ratings for its progress over the last year. Through collaboration with management and stakeholders, G.U.L.F. will continue to facilitate the successful development of the FIP as it moves forward. More information can be found at AudubonGULF.org.
louisiana shrimp

Derelict Crab Traps in the Gulf of Mexico

DSC_7643 Traps are the most common way that blue crabs are harvested in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as along the Atlantic Coast. In the Gulf, traps were introduced as gear in the late 1940s and were the predominant gear by the 1950s. While they made harvest easier and more profitable for fishermen, problems arose especially regarding derelict traps.

According to NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, derelict fishing gear is any fishing equipment that has been “lost, abandoned, or discarded in the marine environment.” While some derelict traps are discarded intentionally, other instances such as theft, bad weather, or the lines being cut by boat propellers can cause traps to be lost.

derelict trapsOnce a trap is lost, it quickly becomes a hazard. Stray buoys and lines can be problematic for ships or boats and traps may be caught in shrimp trawls or ensnare recreational fishing lures. Ghost fishing poses a threat to animals in the area where the trap is lost. Ghost fishing occurs when lost gear continues to trap and kill animals, such as fish, crustaceans, reptiles, marine mammals, and sea birds. In the case of blue crab traps, the diamondback terrapin are a species of concern because they are listed as protected or endangered in some areas, and they share some habitat with blue crabs. Derelict cleanup efforts began in order to address some of these concerns.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the states began coordinating clean up efforts in the early 2000s. Relying on state agency employees, fishermen, and volunteers, derelict trap cleanup programs have become well established across the Gulf and many occur on an annual basis. Well over 60, 000 traps have been removed since then, and efforts have been so successful in some states that they now only organize cleanup events on an as needed basis.

The benefits of removing this debris from the water are many. There are less navigational hazards, less traps for animals to be killed in unintentionally, and less polluted coastal areas. Recently, a study also found that there is an economic benefit to trap removal. In the Chesapeake Bay, another major area for crab harvest, it was found that removing over 34, 000 traps led to an additional 13, 000 metric tons in harvest.

P1010863G.U.L.F has enjoyed participating in trap cleanup efforts in Louisiana over the last several years. Texas, Louisiana and Florida host annual clean up events as well. Mississippi and Alabama, due to their smaller coastlines and the efficacy of past clean up events, host volunteer derelict trap retrieval on an as needed basis. If you are interested in volunteering with a Trap Removal Program follow the links below for information on each state’s efforts.

Texas Abandoned Trap Removal Program

Louisiana Derelict Crab Trap Rodeos

Mississippi Derelict Trap Removal Program – as needed basis

Florida Derelict Trap Clean Up Events


G.U.L.F. Initiates Eight MAPs Across the Gulf of Mexico

For the last two years, Audubon Nature Institute’s sustainable seafood program, Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.), has been working with the seafood industry and management agencies in all five Gulf States on Marine Advancement Plans (MAPs). This work, commissioned by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, aims to provide a road map that will advance Gulf state fisheries toward greater sustainability.

At the conclusion of 2015, G.U.L.F. has benchmarked eight fisheries against the Food and Agriculture Organization Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, an internationally recognized standard of sustainability. Benchmarking reports were completed by utilizing information from management agencies, academic institutions, and direct industry input. The results of each benchmarking report show that Gulf fisheries are currently meeting high standards of responsible management at state and federal levels and provide recommendations for each fishery on areas that could further improve sustainability of these valuable resources. The next step for G.U.L.F. is to work collaboratively with management agencies and industry members to implement recommendations provided by these reports. Some fisheries have already begun this process, resulting in Action Plans publicly available on G.U.L.F.’s website, www.AudubonGULF.org.

“We are very proud of our seafood along the Gulf Coast, ” said John Hewitt IV, Director of G.U.L.F. “It is an integral part of the economy and culture of this region, and the management agencies here do an excellent job regulating species such as crab, shrimp, and oyster, so that populations stay as healthy as possible for the enjoyment of all.”

Industry engagement is important to G.U.L.F., which is why we have traveled extensively to meet with members at multiple levels of the supply chain.  “Ultimately, we wanted fishermen and processors actively engaged in our projects, ” continued Hewitt. “It’s their industry, and we are here to act as a guide to translate what fishermen are doing on the water into the language that restaurants and retailers are looking for regarding sustainable seafood sourcing.”

G.U.L.F. is dedicated to advancing the fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico toward greater sustainability, and will continue to collaborate with industry and regional managers. Through education and outreach, Marine Advancement Plan development, and third-party assessment and certification of our fisheries, G.U.L.F. highlights what makes the region’s seafood special and encourages our fisheries to go above and beyond to meet the highest standards for responsible fisheries management.


Join us for an exclusive evening with members of our Chef Council!

Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) is excited to announce an exclusive culinary experience in an unforgettable setting. Please join some of New Orleans’ best chefs as they present an all-inclusive six-course dinner set in front of Audubon Aquarium of the Americas’ breathtaking Gulf of Mexico exhibit. Proceeds from this event will benefit the ongoing work of G.U.L.F., Audubon’s sustainable seafood program.

G.U.L.F. Chef Council’s own award-winning chefs from some of New Orleans’ finest restaurants will showcase the bounty and diversity of Gulf seafood. Final menu selections will be determined by the freshest catch of the day. Tickets to this exclusive evening are very limited. Join us as we highlight the incredible resource that is Gulf of Mexico seafood with Great Chefs for G.U.L.F.,  Thursday, September 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Audubon Aquarium.

Participating Chefs:

Tenney Flynn, GW Fins

Susan Spicer, Bayona

Alan Ehrich, Audubon Nature Institute

Kristen Essig, Meauxbar

Chris Lynch, Atchafalaya

Jeremy Wolgamott, High Hat Cafe 


Space is very limited. Reserve your seats now!

GW Fins plate

G.U.L.F. Welcomes New Restaurant Partners

GULF Partner Logo In October 2014, Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) launched its restaurant partnership program by forming a Chef Council. This summer, we have expanded the program, adding 11 new restaurants.

Dickie Brennan, owner and managing partner of Dickie Brennan and Co said, “I’m a proud New Orleanian and growing up in the family I did, a main point of pride is our city’s food. Our cuisine wouldn’t be the same without our delicious local seafood. Out of our waters come some of the best tasting shrimp, oysters, crab and fish. It’s important to us to support the local men and women who use sustainable fishing practices. They’re helping to ensure that we have some of the world’s best seafood for generations to come!”

Tenney Flynn, Chair of the G.U.L.F. Chef Council and co-owner of GW Fins said, “When we launched the G.U.L.F. Chef’s Council a year ago, our hope was to continually expand our restaurant membership, adding many of the finer restaurants in New Orleans. We are excited to see that so many restaurants are such big supporters of responsibly using local seafood and welcome all of these new restaurants to the program.”

Whether you’re visiting Louisiana or you are a local, we encourage you to eat at one of our restaurant partners. By doing so, you are supporting our wildlife and our way of life.

New Restaurant partners

Full Press Release

G.U.L.F. Travels Entire Coast

We at Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) pride ourselves on the hands-on approach we take to sustainability and Gulf Coast seafood. We actively travel the Gulf of Mexico, speaking with management and industry on how to best advance the sustainability of our fisheries.

ashford pointing to Mexico

Ashford says “Mexico is that way, ” in Brownsville, TX.


Last week we completed the arc of the Gulf, having officially driven the entire coast, from Brownsville, TX on the Mexican border, to Key West, FL, the southernmost point in the continental U.S. in the last year and a half. While that is about 1, 700 miles from Point A to Point B, we have done it in several stretches, traveling a cumulative 27, 000 miles.


Blue crab sculpture in Rockport, TX.


We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the seafood industry across the Coast, advancing the sustainability of our well managed fisheries.

laura and ashford key west

Ashford and Laura at Southernmost point in Key West, FL.

Louisiana agents now allowed to enforce TEDs in state waters

DSC_7867aToday,  Bill HR 668 passed into law, which repeals the 1987 law prohibiting state agents from enforcing turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on shrimp trawls in state waters. TEDs are installed in nets to allow endangered sea turtles to escape while shrimpers are fishing. Since 1987, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and the United States Coast Guard, who have the authority to penalize boat owners if there is a TED violation, have been working in Louisiana waters, ensuring TEDs are installed properly. Moving forward, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) agents will contribute to efforts that ensure compliance with TED requirements in state waters. The change comes after the Shrimp Task Force submitted a letter supporting the repeal of the law earlier this spring. The law goes into effect August 1, 2015.

Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) has worked to advance seafood sustainability in the Gulf of Mexico since 2012. John Hewitt IV, G.U.L.F.’s Executive Director, said, “We are fortunate to live and work in this region and have been collaborating with industry and LDWF since the program’s inception. We fully support the repeal of this law and applaud what the Shrimp Task Force, fishermen, and regulators do on a daily basis to make sure our fisheries are well-managed. We are looking forward to continuing to work throughout our region, securing a vibrant future for Gulf of Mexico seafood.”

DIGITAL CAMERAShrimp is the largest seafood industry in the state of Louisiana, with a dockside value of $178 million in 2013. However, the inability of LDWF agents to enforce TEDs in state waters has damaged the reputation of the industry in some areas.

“It’s time we get rid of the stigma on the non-enforcement of TEDs, ” said Lance Nacio, owner of Anna Marie Shrimp. “Most shrimpers are already pulling TEDs and what you hear from some NGOs is a misrepresentation of our industry. Whatever a law might say or not say, we’re invested in having a good fishery.”

Kristen Baumer, President of Paul Piazza & Son, Inc. says, “As a major supplier of Louisiana shrimp to foodservice and retail consumers, we are very proud that Louisiana and our fishery has enhanced our commitment to sustainability. This allows the focus to be on educating the U.S. consumer that our wild caught Louisiana shrimp is safe, available, and delicious to eat.”

Underutilized Fish Gaining Momentum in New Orleans

bycatch 2015Bycatch, often referred to as “trash fish, ” is becoming a hot culinary trend nationwide. When fishermen go out, they target certain species. Sometimes, other species are caught, and these are usually thrown back because they are not seen as valuable. In other words, the fishermen can’t get as much money for them. Chefs are starting to demand these bycatch species at their restaurants to offer something different for customers. Often, these underutilized species are just as delicious as their more known counterparts, but they don’t have the name recognition. One example is blue runner. This is an open water fish commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico that many people have never heard of, but blue runner have a similar taste as tuna.

Blue runner is one of the species that was highlighted at the Bycatch Happy Hour at Carmo on June 4. This event, which was a collaboration with Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) and the New Orleans Eat Local Challenge, encouraged guests to try something a little outside of their comfort zone.

“I think it’s part of the focus on getting what’s local and adding diversity to your diet, of tapping into more of what’s really out there, ” said John Fallon, Assistant Director of Outreach and Engagement for G.U.L.F. “The trouble with serving this kind of seafood is the consistency. You don’t always know what you’re going to get because, by its nature, it isn’t a targeted catch. But when there’s more of a market for different types of fish, more fishermen will take care of what they catch and people can get better access to it.”

For more information about Carmo’s Bycatch Happy Hour, and the Trash Fish movement in New Orleans, visit the New Orleans Advocate.

G.U.L.F. Publishes Action Plan for Texas Blue Crab

Audubon Nature Institute’stxbc_cover_link Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) has spent the last year working with the blue crab industry in Texas to create a Marine Advancement Plan (MAP). MAPs are a collaborative effort between G.U.L.F., management, and industry to advance the fishery towards greater sustainability.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department does a great job managing the blue crab fisheries in Texas state waters, ” said Laura Picariello, Research Manager for G.U.L.F. “Our goal is to continue working with the blue crab industry to increase sustainability by addressing the few gaps that exist in our Sustainability Benchmarking Report.”

Before creating the Action Plan for the Texas blue crab fishery, G.U.L.F. assessed the fishery against internationally accepted standards of sustainability. “The score for Texas blue crab was quite high, ” continues Picariello. “From there, we met with management and industry to discuss ways to address what few gaps exist and developed recommendations and actions to increase the sustainability of the fishery.”

Recommendations for the Texas blue crab fishery did not just result from the Sustainability Benchmarking Report. Industry interviews also revealed areas in which the industry felt the fishery could improve.

One of the areas G.U.L.F. discussed with participating stakeholders is the industry creating a blue crab organization that can provide a forum for industry to discuss challenges, ways to improve the fishery, and advocate for the fishery with a unified voice. Other industry

Continued industry education is also one of the recommendations. G.U.L.F. is working with Texas Sea Grant,  discussing how to best expand the efforts Texas Sea Grant has started with the Port Arthur Area Shrimpers Association to also include blue crab industry.  Similarly, Louisiana Sea Grant and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has created the new Louisiana Fisheries Forward Program that addresses issues such as safety training, professionalism, and current regulations.

More detailed information about the Texas Blue Crab Marine Advancement Plan, and the full Action Plan, are available at AudubonGULF.org.

MS Seafood Cook-Off features top chefs from around the state

The sixth annual Mississippi Seafood Cook-Off will be held Friday, June 5, from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Slavonian Lodge in Biloxi.

The competition showcases 10 of Mississippi’s most talented chefs, and they will be competing for the title of “king” or “queen” of Mississippi seafood. Each chef will present his or her signature dish featuring fresh, sustainable Mississippi Gulf Seafood to a select group of judges.

The winning chef will represent Mississippi in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off on Aug. 8 in New Orleans.

“The annual cook-off is one of the best events we have to showcase the top-quality chefs we have in Mississippi and fresh Gulf seafood, ” said Jamie Miller, executive director of MDMR. “It also allows us to raise money for a vital community organization, CLIMB CDC.”

Chefs from various states compete in the national cook-off and must create their dishes using domestic seafood native to their state. Mississippi and Louisiana are tied for the most wins in this competition.

In 2013, chef David Crews of Cleveland, Miss., won the national title.

Chef Derek Emerson of Jackson will emcee the Mississippi Seafood Cook-Off. Emerson owns several restaurants, including Walkers Drive-In, Local 463 and Caet Wine Bar. He also is a James Beard Award semi-finalist for best Chef of the South.

The following chefs will be competing in the June 5 cook-off:

  • Ty Thames/Restaurant Tyler – Starkville
  • Matthew Kajdan/Parlor Market – Jackson
  • Justin Ferguson/Purple Parrot Café – Hattiesburg
  • Eric Spencer/Island View Casino – Gulfport
  • Ryan Bell/Hal & Mal’s – Jackson
  • Danie Rodriguez/LUNCH and City Life Café – Biloxi
  • Clayton Barney/Cotton Blues – Hattiesburg
  • Chef Anthony Rametta/Cora’s – Biloxi
  • Camron Razavi/Magnolia House by Kelly English – Biloxi
  • Corbin Evans/Oxford Canteen – Oxford


Although only the judges will taste the chefs’ preparations, event attendees will be served fresh seafood dishes prepared by culinary students of Café Climb in Gulfport. Café Climb is part of CLIMB Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit group that focuses on practical workforce training, livable wage employment opportunities, small-business job creation and sustainable housing solutions. The group’s mission is to promote strong communities by giving individuals access to opportunities that inspire self-reliance.

Tickets to the Mississippi Seafood Cook-Off are $15 for one and $28 for two, and all proceeds go to CLIMB CDC. Tickets are available online at msseafood.com.

Download the Audubon Gulf Seafood Guide mobile app:
Click here for the app tutorial on YouTube.
Sponsored and coordinated by Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Authorized by the five Gulf state marine resource management agencies.
NOAA Award #NA10NMF4770481.