Louisiana Blue Crab Fishery First to Receive G.U.L.F. Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification

Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) continues its mission to ensure the viability of Gulf of Mexico fisheries by certifying Louisiana blue crab under its new  certification program. The G.U.L.F. Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification is a regionalized model  measuring the responsible practices for the sustainable harvest of our vibrant Gulf of Mexico seafood.

The Louisiana blue crab fishery is the first to go through the process and receive the G.U.L.F. RFM certification. Global Trust, an independent assessment body specializing in the certification of fisheries, carried out the evaluation and awarded the certification.

Similar certification models have also been established in Alaska and Iceland.

dsc_8272“It’s exciting to see the Louisiana blue crab achieve GULF RFM certification,” said Susan Marks, Sustainability Director, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “Participation by the Gulf States, alongside Iceland and Alaska, provides customers another credible and cost-effective choice in demonstrating responsible sourcing and 3rd party certification.”

The certification is based on internationallyaccepted principles laid out by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in their Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and Ecolabelling Guidelines for Fish and Fishery Products to ensure that seafood is responsibly harvested and sustainable. G.U.L.F.’s RFM certification was developed in accordance with those guidelines, as well as with principles set forth by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

“This is the culmination of a comprehensive process to create a certification unique to the species and fisheries management systems specific to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, ” said Laura Picariello, Technical Programs Manager for G.U.L.F. “Throughout the process, G.U.L.F. consulted with a Technical Advisory Committee comprised of researchers, resource managers, industry members, and other stakeholders from the Gulf of Mexico region. G.U.L.F. continues to work closely with fishermen and resource managers to facilitate communication and outreach to ensure the process is transparent and thorough.”

GULFFisheries certified under the umbrella of G.U.L.F. will gain credibility in a marketplace with ever increasing demands for sustainability verification. In recent years, large retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Kroger, Winn-Dixie and Publix have developed strict sourcing policies that require sustainability assurances before purchasing seafood. This certification demonstrates that Louisiana blue crab is responsibly harvested for sustainable use, thereby safeguarding both the seafood itself and the industry that relies on it.

“This significant milestone for Audubon’s sustainable seafood program expands our already considerable presence in the landscape of conservation,” says Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman.  “We cannot underestimate the importance of a healthy Gulf of Mexico to our state’s economy. A vibrant, well-managed marine ecosystem will provide for healthy fisheries that will enable us to continue to be near the top in national seafood production.’’

Thanks to a long history of excellence provided by Louisiana’s fishing industry and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, our coastline supplies a significant portion of the nation’s seafood.  Over a quarter of all blue crab harvested in the United States comes from Louisiana waters, making it the country’s largest blue crab fishery.

Certifying Gulf fisheries to the highest level will ensure that products coming from regional waters will be abundant and well-managed and that consumers can continue to feel confident about eating Gulf seafood. This certification for the Louisiana blue crab fishery not only verifies the proper management of this valuable resource, but also enhances the marketability of Louisiana’s delicious blue crabs. Sustainability of our region’s fisheries is essential to the livelihoods of fishermen, processors, restaurateurs and many others who depend on the seafood industry.

“What this ultimately means is that consumers can feel good about purchasing Louisiana blue crabs,” said Picariello. “Just check the label to make sure the blue crabs you are purchasing came from Louisiana waters, or ask your grocer or server where the product comes from.”


Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and FishChoice Launch New FIP Website

The number of fishery improvement projects (FIPs) globally has grown dramatically,yet there has been no central clearinghouse for detailed FIP progress tracking. However, that has now changed this week with the launch of FisheryProgress.org.

FisheryProgress.org is a one-stop shop for information on the progress of global fishery improvement projects. It makes tracking progress more efficient, consistent, and reliable for businesses that support FIPs. The website is a place for FIPs to showcase their progress to potential buyers and for businesses to find FIPs that meet their sustainable seafood commitments.

The site, a collaboration between the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and FishChoice (of which G.U.L.F. is an affiliate), gives users all the information they need to make decisions about whether FIPs meet their sourcing policy. Users can search for FIPs or browse a full list of all the FIPs on the site. For each FIP, users will start with a progress snapshot and can easily access workplan details and supporting documentation if they need more information.

The information on this new site is verified regularly by FisheryProgress.org staff. When a FIP requests to be included on the site, staff conduct an initial review of information to confirm that the FIP meets the Conservation Alliance’s guidelines, which serve as the foundation for the site. In addition, staff review each FIP’s progress reports annually to ensure the information is accurate. Currently, G.U.L.F.’s Louisiana Shrimp FIP is listed on the site.

Interested in learning more? Join a webinar to learn more about the site features and how you can create an account. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 3 from 2-3pm ET/11am-12pm PT, and you can RSVP by emailing Liz Kieffer (liz@springboard.partners).

Learn more about the site at www.FisheryProgress.org, and contact Kristin Sherwood (kristin@fishchoice.com) with any questions.

Tuna-Fete at Carrollton Market October 25


There’s nothing fishy about Carrollton Market’s tribute to National Seafood Month….but the menu certainly is! In partnership with Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.), on October 25th at 7:00 p.m., Carrollton Market will host Tuna Fête, a six-course dinner dedicated to locally sourced seafood, specifically tuna.

“We do our best to source ingredients from the community, ” says Jason Goodenough, chef/owner of Carrollton Market. “We are fortunate to have amazing local fishermen and farmers who provide a wide variety of top quality fish and seafood.” Restricting the menu to feature only tuna was a creative challenge, he adds.

Each course will highlight a different preparation of tuna. Guests will enjoy Chef Goodenough’s versions of Tuna Nicoise, Tuna Carpaccio, and of course, seared Yellowfin Tuna. Even the roasted veal loin will be accompanied by a tuna mayonnaise.

“National Seafood Month is all about celebrating local, sustainable seafood, and there is no better way to do that than by dining at one of our restaurant partners, ” says John Fallon, Assistant Director of the G.U.L.F. program. “This dinner is a great example of the commitment Carrollton Market has made to the Gulf seafood industry and sustainability.”

Only forty guests will be seated for Tuna Fete. The cost is $150/person with beverage pairings and $100/person without pairings. A portion of proceeds will be donated to Audubon Nature Institute’s G.U.L.F. program.

To reserve a seat, call Carrollton Market at (504) 252-9928.


About Carrollton Market

Carrollton Market is a modern Louisiana bistro in New Orleans founded in March 2014 by chef and owner Jason Goodenough. Founded with the vision of creating the best restaurant in New Orleans, the restaurant draws from local farmers and fisherman to ensure the highest quality food. Carrollton Market is open for dinner Tuesday – Saturday from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. and for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. To learn more, visit carrolltonmarket.com.

Follow Carrollton Market on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Audubon Nature Institute Awarded NFWF Gulf Coast Conservation Grant

G.U.L.F. Program Will Reduce Impacts to Sea Turtles Through Shrimp Industry Engagement


generic sticker layoutAudubon Nature Institute has received nearly $52, 000 to work with the skimmer shrimp fishery of the Northern Gulf on sea turtle conservation. Awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the grant will fund work to reduce sea turtle capture by skimmer trawls though shrimp industry engagement. Audubon received one of 18 NFWF Gulf Conservation Grants awarded to programs working to enhance coastal habitats, bolster fish and wildlife populations and strengthen resilience along the Gulf of Mexico.

The NWFW Gulf Conservation Grants Program (GCCGP) will support Audubon’s sustainable seafood program, Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) to increase sea turtle protectio by expanding the ‘Tow the Time’ education campaign for shrimp fishermen. The Tow the Time Campaign focuses on educating fishermen about current tow time limits (55 minutes from April 1 to October 30 and 75 minutes from November 1 to March 31). The GCCGP builds on existing alliances and looks to build new partnerships, with major funding provided by the Shell Marine Habitat Program, Southern Company’s Power of Flight Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other sources.

“This is another great example of Audubon’s commitment to local conservation and working to protect endangered species, ” said Ron Forman, President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute. “The focus of this grant compliments the excellent work currently being performed by Audubon’s Coastal Wildlife Network, which to date has rescued and rehabilitated more than 200 endangered sea turtles from our local waters.”

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, concerns arose over drastically declining sea turtle populations in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic. One of the reasons identified for sea turtle decline was mortality associated with shrimp trawls. To address these interactions, NOAA implemented new regulations for the shrimp fishery. Changes in the industry included turtle excluder devices (TEDs), which are installed in nets to allow endangered sea turtles to escape while shrimpers are fishing, and tow time restrictions for smaller, inshore nets such as skimmers to reduce the potential for interactions. Since then, sea turtle mortality has significantly decreased and sea turtle populations are showing signs of recovery. Continued concerns over the five species of sea turtles in the Gulf necessitate increased awareness of these regulations to optimize the benefits of these regulations.

DSC_7494“G.U.L.F. has been working with the skimmer trawl shrimp fishery in the northern Gulf of Mexico for the last several years, ” said Ashford Rosenberg, G.U.LF. Outreach Manager. “Funds from NFWF’s Gulf Coast Conservation Program will go toward expanding our work with fishermen by providing them with “Tow the Time” decals, which serve as visual reminders of current regulations for skimmer trawls that help limit interactions with sea turtles. This grant will also allow us to expand our work with the industry, ensuring we can inform them about current regulations and potential future regulations.”

The grants will also support industry workshops that will educate fishermen on current and upcoming proposed regulations, the logistics and benefits of turtle excluder devices (TEDs), and the importance of carrying observers on their vessels.

“Gulf restoration work is reaching new levels of conservation success, benefiting both wildlife and local communities, ” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “We are excited to build on these achievements with this latest round of Gulf grants.”

View full press release. 

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. 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.

News Roundup 3-6-15

1. Love seafood? New app helps you find the freshest catch. (more)
2. Seafood Summit in Houma on March 11th. (more)
3. January landings of shrimp in Gulf of Mexico second lowest in last decade. (more)
4. Florida Supreme Court keeps ban of gill nets intact. (more)
5. LDWF removes 400 crab traps from LA waters. (more)


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