In the interest of fairness…

To be fair, I really do have to post this update.

BP has actually paid our claim. Well, 25% of it, so far. They divided the total I submitted the claim for by 8 (representing months from the “incident” to the end of the year) and have paid us for the first two months, with promises to pay the rest over the next six months with a check at the beginning of each month and a reassessment at the end of the year. I’m hoping it doesn’t take as much messing around each month to get our “BP Welfare Check” as it took to get the first one but, in all fairness, I have to say they have made a fair attempt to pay us for our immediate financial loss.

Now, about those pelicans and sea turtles…

BP’s Promises Are Very Empty From Here

Obviously everything has changed since I last posted here. Unless you’ve been in a cave you have a good idea of what is happening in the Gulf and if you did just come out of hiding or hibernation, read the front page of this site for a little while and you’ll get caught up.

In a nutshell: A BP leased oil rig blew up and two months later is still fouling the Gulf with millions of gallons of crude oil.

When the fishery closure moved far enough to the east to put our own fishing business, which mostly targets deep water grouper, on the skids, we decided to jump on the “free money” bandwagon and file a claim with the BP Claims Office. When we went in and told them we wanted to be paid the value of our IFQ allotment, which a month earlier had a very real value and now has virtually none, they looked at us like we were speaking Cantonese. We spent a couple of hours with the claims adjuster we’d been assigned and after the first fifteen minutes he called in the manager of this claims office who agreed with the adjuster that he had never heard about what we were telling them but it certainly sounded to them like we had a very legitimate claim.

So far so good.

They submitted the claim, which got pushed up to the “Large Claims” division because it was for quite a bit more than the $5000 ceiling for a small claim. The Large Claims adjuster assigned to the case knew as little as the locally deployed adjusters did and after a few days of being brought up to speed he started asking for more paperwork to substantiate the claim. We were (easily) able to supply all the paperwork and verification he wanted and were told we were well on our way to getting approved.

Note: That’s “approved” not “paid”.

A bit more than a week ago we were told we had indeed been approved. The large claims adjuster guy spent quite some time patting himself on the back for “getting this done for you” and told us we would be receiving a check quite soon.

No check.

We called to check and spent a few days in “oh, we’ll have him call you back” hell, at one point actually being told “he is in a room with no phones, we can’t call him and will just walk over there and tell him to call you”. My wife, who has a bit more time and a lot more patience than I’ve had lately, has spoken to these people almost daily for well over a week. I have actually spoken to the local people more than the remote “large claims division” (which I have a vague idea is in Houston but that could be very wrong) but I have spoken to our Big Claims adjuster twice. The first was a few days ago when, after hearing for ten minutes how successful the guy had been in getting our claim approved (which as it is a legitimate claim I’m not all that impressed by) I finally said “You know, this is all well and good but with all due respect you have yet to do a single thing that has actually benefited me one little tiny bit.” More apologies, more “we’re working on it and it is a top priority”…

No check.

My wife spoke to Houston We Have A Problem again today. To my amazement they told her to go to the local claims office and speak to the office manager and have him write us a check for $2500 to cover the overdue bills and BP would take care of the bookkeeping and deduct that from a future payment. Yeah right. You can’t get past the cop at the door of the claims center without an appointment. You can’t get an appointment without a new claim number. Round and round in circles we go. Even if I were willing to pursue this avenue of evasion (which I’m not) we still would eventually get nowhere and end up in the same place we are now.

No check.

So I call the number we’ve now got for the Large Claims adjuster feller. My wife has tried it four times today with either no luck (busy signal) or other no luck (voice mail that NEVER gets returned). Amazingly my call went through immediately and the guy answered. When he found out who I was, the hemming and hawing began anew.

“Umm, err, well, yes, we are working to get you paid as soon as possible.”

Me: “When does that mean?”

“Umm, err, well, yes, as soon as I can get them to write the check”

Me: “What’s the hold-up?”

“Umm, err, we,, yes, I’m not sure, it is pretty much out of my hands but you have been approved and you will be paid.”

Me: “When?”

“Umm, err, well, yes, I’m doing everything in my power to make it happen for you”

Me: “That would make me fell much better if it weren’t the exact same thing you told me last week”

Continue on in this vein for a few more minutes….then:

Me: “OK, well give me the number of the next guy up the line”

“Umm, err, well, yes, well that would be a different department.”

Me: “OK, well give me the number of that department”

“Umm, err, well, yes, well, I just have to give them your phone number and have them call you back”

Me: “When will that happen?”

“Umm, err, well, yes, err just as soon as is possible.”

Me: “When does that mean”

“Umm, err, well, yes, we are trying to figure out how to get you a check”

Me: “What does that mean?”

Are you seeing a pattern developing here?…I was.

Finally I tell the guy….”Look, BP has promised the people of the US and the Gulf Coast that they will pay all legitimate claims…they aren’t. BP has promised Congress they won’t hold up people’s payments while people’s lives are being negatively impacted by this mess….they are. BP has promised President Obama they won’t nickel and dime the people of the Gulf Coast to death…but that is exactly what they are doing right here right now.”

The guy says; “Umm, err, well, yes, I can see what you mean and I assure you I will move this up right away and someone will contact you to let you know when and how BP will be able to pay this claim”

No check.

BP so far has one huge, and growing, mess and an awful lot of empty promises from where I stand.

Some Things Never Change

This post is a response to this article, published on the Huffington Post website by Julie Packard who is the Executive Director of The Monterey Bay Aquarium regarding the problems faced by bluefin tuna populations.

Ms. Packard,

You make some excellent points but you ignore and attempt to have your audience stay ignorant of, far too many of the factors at work here. I agree with what you put forth as the basic premise of your post, that “cuteness” should not be a determining factor in our efforts to protect all creatures from over infringement by man, be it by hunting and fishing, loss of habitat, or careless pollution.

That said, I bristle when I see your article once again advancing the oft repeated meme of the Monterey Aquarium and its financial supporters, The Pew Foundation, that fishermen’s greed has been the root cause of all the challenges sea life faces. This is simply not the case.

Also, by advancing only the argument that greed (or economic considerations, to use the euphemism adopted here) has caused the decimation of yet another marine species is to ignore both of the biggest factors responsible for the problem, pollution and bad regulation. By ignoring problems caused by years of pollution and over-development, you free your parent group, the Pew Trusts, from taking a large share of the blame for these problems based on the fact that they were begun and continue to be financed largely by oil industry money. By ignoring the problems caused by poor regulation, you are free to propose increased reliance on regulation to cure the problems that you have so conveniently laid at the feet of what is basically a small group of hardworking Americans that you continue to demonize.

It is no secret that the “Dead Zone” in the northwest Gulf of Mexico created by agricultural and industrial run-off from the Mississippi River has been steadily growing for years. Like much of man’s encroachment on our Oceans, the long term effects and ramifications of this are unknown. However, it simply can’t be good. It is not for nothing that it is known as “the dead zone”.

The migratory pattern of all tuna in the Gulf of Mexico takes them is a big loop around the northern Gulf that never comes closer to land than it does at the mouth of the Mississippi river and the top of the Mississippi and DeSoto Canyons in the northern Gulf. The tuna, and their food supply, can not help but be impacted by the increasing amount of toxic run-off entering the Gulf from the Mississippi. However, instead of taking steps to diminish that run-off, we are more likely increasing it as agricultural production (and run-off) all along the river basin relies increasingly on chemicals, fertilizers, antibiotics, and other agents whose impact on downstream ecosystems has not been fully understood.

As for regulations, for many years the Japanese fishing fleet, a well organized fleet of some of the best fishermen in the world, was allowed to bring their 110 foot steel longliners into the Gulf of Mexico in pursuit of bluefin tuna. In a perverse attempt at regulation, they were told that the ONLY fish they could keep was bluefin tuna and were further given an American observer for each vessel to ensure that all they kept were bluefin tuna. They were setting 30 to 50 miles of longline gear per boat every night (at a time when the American fishing fleet pursuing swordfish in the GOM was setting an average of 10 miles of gear per night) and they had an observer on board to make sure that they threw everything except bluefin tuna, dead or alive, marketable or not, back into the water. During this period American fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico often saw large, 200 – 300 lb swordfish bobbing away from the Japanese fleet, swollen and wasted. When the American fishing fleet realized the value these tuna had on the Eastern market (themselves the victim of greed, they had been previously told the bluefin and yellowfin tuna in the Gulf had no substantial value and were not paid enough for the fish to warrant targeting their gear to catch them. They eventually upgraded their gear and spent one season fishing alongside the Japanese fleet and were stunned by the amount of bluefin they were able to catch and saw their ex-vessel price for bluefin increase and a possible new market open up for them. The very next year the American fleet was hit with strict limits on bluefin tuna, while the Japanese were still allowed to come into the Gulf for a few more years to cull through the American resource, deplete the fish which should have been protected by our government as an American resource, and take home enough of the Gulf bluefin population to raise concern as to the future of the biomass.

For you, and your colleagues, to ignore these very real and major factors while being happy to blame the entire problem on the greed of the American seafood producers is disingenuous and downright insulting.

The prevailing attitude of The Pew Trusts, a group whose policies are increasingly influence, if not dictate, those of our country, since a Pew Fellow (Jane Lubchenco) is sitting as the head of the Federal Agency that oversees all fishing regulations (NOAA), is that all fishing is bad and man could survive quite well on farm raised seafood as a protein source without any wild caught fish being consumed at all.

Finally, replacing poor regulation with more regulation, replacing ineffective and harmful regulation with more stringent regulation, and using flawed and incomplete science put forth by a group with a bias and an agenda like Pew’s to do it, is a recipe for economic disaster for the American Seafood Industry as well as an ineffective way to protect our Oceans and the resources therein.

What is the CCA on about now?

In a grandstand move apparently aimed at raising a few more dollars more than accomplishing anything of any good to anyone involved, the CCA has filed suit to block the implementation of Amendment 29, the grouper fishery IFQ issue.

With barely even a passing nod at anything factual, the CCA has been whipping its support base into a frenzy, characterizing catch share regulation as a huge giveaway which will allocate percentage shares of the fishery directly to the commercial sector with no consideration for the recreational sector. They headline their latest press release with this disingenous but nicely dramatic statement:

“Fundamentally flawed catch share program a threat to angling”

CCA have already made it quite clear in their “Grouper Grab” effort that they won’t be happy until they have ALL of the fishery allocated to the few who can afford either the expense or the time to go catch important food resources for “fun” and recreation. They’ve made it clear that they have no respect for the average consumer of fresh fish, who doesn’t want to have to go 40 or 50 miles offshore to catch his next grouper dinner. Now, they are making it clear that they have no respect for due process and are attempting to stop the end result of years of planning and public meetings by filing a last minute dramatic but frivolous lawsuit to block something that is not going to do what they claim it will do.

Read that part once more: The coming IFQ (or catch share program) will NOT DO WHAT CCA CLAIMS IT WILL DO. Any attempt by the CCA to gather donations to help them with this lawsuit and help them with this cause should be treated exactly like what it is, fraud.

This GOM Reef Fish IFQ program, like every other one that I’m aware of, allocates the already existing commercial allocation amongst the already existing commercial fishermen. It takes absolutely NOTHING from the recreational fishermen, and in fact a bone of contention with commercial fishermen is that the recreational and commercial allocations are not set in stone. Nothing will prevent the NMFS from adjusting the recreational/commercial allocations in the future. An individual catch share does not give the fishermen the right to catch a specific poundage of fish, it rather gives each participating commercial fisherman a percentage of whatever the commercial Total Allowable Catch for each year happens to be.

Given that, why all the fuss from the CCA at this point?

Could it be that this is simply a good fund raising point as well as a bit more publicity for them?

What are their own proposals to manage the resource? Seems to be take it all away from the commercial fishery, give it all to the recreational, and don’t even think about giving the recreational sector any sort of TAC or limits.

“One of the easier positions we have dealt with involves hard quotas for the recreational fishery – we unanimously oppose them. “
CCA on their website

NOAA Announces Yet Another Closure–”The Edges”

In what is simply the rubber stamping of a rule we all knew was coming, NOAA has published the “Final Rule” implementing the new regulations closing the area apparently henceforth to be known as “The Edges” from January 1 to April 30th annually.

Touted as another way to protect “gag and other groupers” during spawning, the closure applies to all commercial and recreational fishing. The area, while a popular and productive area for many commercial fishermen targeting gags, is rarely fished by recreational fishermen, meaning the rule is mostly going to affect those commercial fishermen working in the northern end of the Gulf of Mexico who target the higher priced gag grouper.

In fairness, the rule is supported by a few commercial fishermen and in fact is a modification of a plan originally put forth and spoken for by a commercial fishing boat owner. However, in what is possibly coincidence, those fishermen who support the rule as well as the boat owner who proposed it, don’t seem to be fishermen who ever venture far enough offshore to fish the newly closed and historically extremely productive area. Imagine that.

Gag grouper catches have not dropped off and area closures have never been proven to actually work, making this another selective stab in the dark at trying to fix something that most likely is not even broken using unproven methodology that is going to be one more harmful blow to a segment of he commercial fishery NMFS already has on the ropes.

In other words: Business as usual.

Why Me?

Thought this might be interesting. I feel I am under turtle attack !!! We had a 4th of July party to include volley ball games. Everything was going good until the night of the 3rd when these turtles assaulted the volley ball court and laid her eggs in the middle of it.We awoke on the 3rd to find they had canceled our games for up to 90 days. The good thing is they are nesting in the biggest numbers in years.

(You can click the images here for a larger view)

  • Pic 1 The net and my blue house. I actually own where she nested and did not get any rent.
  • Pic 2 Two nest real close look between blue and yellow tent
  • Pic 3 another shot of the two nests
  • Pic 4 Look at the people.
  • Pic 5 Me, my house,volley ball net, sea turtle farm.

Oh, Wait a Minute…Maybe the Sky Is NOT Really Falling In…

Emergency schmergency.

The Bottom Longline industry in the Gulf of Mexico is currently in an “Emergency Closure” which has shut down an entire industy using what we have said all along were false, misleading and inflated figures.

Now, the St. Petersburg Times, in a July 2, 2009 article, has printed figures showing that the turtle nesting season currently underway is well on its way to being the best in years.  Will the enviros stop and say “Oh, wow, we were wrong about this and the people who said that the nesting numbers were cyclical and the evidence that the population has been decimated is inconlusive were obviously right.  Let those people go back to work already before they lose their homes, their boats, their families and anything else they support and care about.”

Or will they continue to lie and stretch the truth and perhaps even claim a cause and effect relationship between shutting down this vital fishery and an immediate demonstration of the fact that the sea turtle population is FAR LESS THREATENED than they have been trying to convince everyone of?

Hmmm.  I wonder.

Times article is here:

Look at the photo while you are there.  Does anyone else see any contradiction in the fact that a few boats are being prohibited from fishing far offshore of that beach yet the volleyball game and partying goes on right on top of the actual nest?

Sen. Olympia Snowe: “Frankly, this is unacceptable”

Yes, Senator, it is.  Has been for a long time.

What she and I are both referring to is the practice of substituting one (usually lesser priced) fish for the one listed on the menu.  Often this takes the form of “grouper” becoming catfish and “snapper” becoming tilapia.  Bland for tasty.  Frozen for fresh.  Farm raised for wild caught.  Imported for domestic.  Any and all of the above. [Read more →]

Food & Water Watch Seeks To Torpedo IFQ Program

Falsely claiming that a “re-referendum” plainly shows that the majority of reef fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico are opposed to the IFQ Program as proposed and approved in the real referendum, Food & Water Watch distributed a news release claiming that an overwhelming majority of permit holders in fact oppose the plan.

The TRUTH?  Even by polling those permit holders with minimal catch histories, they were only able to make the margin closer.  [Read more →]

Why is Bob Shipp still on the Gulf Council?

Why is Dr. Robert Shipp still a full voting member of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council?

He is paid for his services by CCA, a group openly fighting to put all commercial grouper fishermen in the Gulf completely out of business.  Isn’t that enough reason for him to be asked to resign? [Read more →]