(03/21/19) ABBEVILLE, La. — The LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant held a workshop on March 19 for the shrimping industry to prepare for the 2019 season.
AgCenter and Sea Grant agent Thomas Hymel talked about the Louisiana Direct seafood program to help market seafood products.
Hymel said the first Delcambre seafood and farmers market will be held April 6 for consumers to buy seafood from fishers.
Hymel also reviewed ways shrimpers can reduce the problem of black spot on their catch by using a recirculated chilled water system. Overstuffing bags is a problem for shrimp to be frozen because the product in the middle of the bags takes longer to freeze.
Participants were able to join in an interactive safety training exercise held by the AgCenter, Sea Grant and the U.S. Coast Guard. Presentations included a proposed offshore artificial reef program and reporting oil and fuel spills. Abbeville General Hospital also conducted health screenings.
AgCenter and Sea Grant fisheries agent Thu Bui interpreted all the presentations for shrimpers who speak Vietnamese.
Shrimpers were able to learn about the requirements for turtle excluder devices (TEDs) and bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) on their nets. Examiners from the National Marine Fisheries Service, with assistance from the AgCenter and Sea Grant, inspected turtle excluder devices and bycatch reduction devices on shrimp boats at Delcambre and Intracoastal City.
“This is a complimentary check to make sure there are no problems when they go fishing. Fishermen can make sure their TEDs are protecting sea turtles while minimizing the loss of shrimp,” said Mark Shirley, LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant agent.
The dockside inspections are aimed at helping shrimpers comply with the federal regulations before they start fishing.
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Thomas of District 8 presented the Meritorious Public Service Award to two local business owners, Andy Bui and Paul Tran, for their help with the rescue of four commercial fishers on Sept. 18, 2018, when their boat sank near Sabine Pass.
Both men served as interpreters during the rescue, and they had helped the boat owner register an emergency electronic device, called an EPIRB, that transmits a distress signal to the Coast Guard.
“Mr. Bui and Mr. Tran’s actions definitely saved the lives of those four men,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Heather Mattern, of the Morgan City Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit.
Harry March, commercial fishing vessel examiner for the Coast Guard, said the Coast Guard responds to all EPIRB distress calls, but confirmation is required to verify the legitimacy of the call for help. Coast Guard rescuers this year in New Jersey started to respond to an EPIRB, but as the responders were en route, it was determined that the device was activated automatically when flooding occurred in a basement.
Robert Twilley, Louisiana Sea Grant executive director, gave a presentation about the changing Louisiana coast and asked for fishers’ input on how fishing communities can adjust to those changes over time. “We want to hear from voices all across the state,” he said.
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, at right, with Andy Bui, center, who received the Meritorious Public Service Award for his role in the rescue of a boat owned by Hien Van Nguyen, far left. Another man, Paul Tran, also received the award but was not able to attend the ceremony. Nguyen is holding an EPIRB, an emergency transmitter he used to send a distress signal for help when his boat started sinking near Sabine Pass in September. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter
LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agents Mark Shirley, left, and Thu Bui attach a blue Louisiana Sea Grant tag to a shrimp net on a boat at Intracoastal City to show that federal inspectors had given a favorable examination of the turtle excluder device, a metal grid that prevents turtles from being captured in a trawl. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter
Shrimpers examine a turtle excluder device in a display from the National Marine Fisheries Service during a meeting organized by the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant in Abbeville on March 19 to help prepare for the upcoming shrimp season. Photo by Bruce Schultz/LSU AgCenter