Tag-Archive for » Marine Fisheries Service «

January 13th, 2012 | Author:

The National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Phase I Early Restoration plan has been published as a draft and includes eight projects totaling $57 Million to be initially implemented in the 5 states bordering the Gulf Of Mexico. The Early Restoration program will include $1 Billion and is the selected process by which funding for BP Oil Spill damages may begin in advance of the multi year total damage assessment process. The NRDA is one of the government led BP Oil Spill recovery efforts and is associated with the requirement of BP making the public whole from the environmental damages, including loss of natural resources, damage to natural resources and loss of use/enjoyment of the resources.

Two public meetings (Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola) to present and hear comments on the plan have been held and 10 more are scheduled throughout the public comment period that ends February 14th.

Of the eight projects in Phase I draft of the early restoration plan document, two are Florida projects – both in Escambia county. These initial Florida projects total $5 Million with $4.4 Million going for Boat Ramp Enhancement and Construction and the balance funding 2o acres of Dune Restoration along Pensacola beach.

Of the $1 Billion to be paid by BP for early restoration projects, $100 Million will go to each of the five states to manage/implement independently, and $500 million will be for related projects to be managed through the Federal Government’s Department of Interior(DOI) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The $57 Million of Phase I projects included in the draft plan are the initial set of projects being considered with the balance to follow through the NRDA project selection process.

You may view the plan document at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Final-ERP-121311-print-version-update.pdf

Comments can be submitted verbally or in writing at any of the public comment meetings, via mail at US Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O> Box 2099, Fairhope, AL 336533 or via the web at one of the following addresses.

http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov
http://www.doi.gove/deepwaterhorizon
http:/losco-dhw.com/EarlyRestorationPlanning.aspx
http://www.outdoaralabama.com/nrdaprojects/
http://www.mdeqnrda.com
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon

August 20th, 2011 | Author:

The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)  received a positive response from NOAA on the required section 7 consult for ALL of our Gulf and Sound Side reef area permits.  This means National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA agrees with the biological assessment written by Keith Johnson of Wetland Sciences (our environmental consultant).    The action indicates we have cleared the final large hurdle with the only step left being the creation by the ACOE of the permit conditions.  The conditions basically dictate what we can and can not do within the permit area such as materials allowed, setback distances, etc.    As of August 11th There is currently only one permit ahead of us in that process.  The Marine Sanctuary permit conditions  will be drafted next.  After the conditions are written and approved by the  ACOE, they will be issued to Santa Rosa County.   The final approval is expected without delay once the conditions are written.  These final steps are expected to be complete with permits in hand within six weeks (September).

The Marine Sanctuary Committee is working with Santa Rosa County on finalizing the implementation plan so that process may begin as soon as permits are in hand.

February 23rd, 2010 | Author:

Pensacola area reefing effort is also moving ahead.   Officials are hoping to install three reefs per this Pensacola News Journal Article

From: Kimberly Blair o kblair@pnj.com  on February 11, 2010
Snorkels, masks and fins may soon become as essential to a day on Pensacola Beach as sunscreen and boogie boards.
A proposal to install three near-shore snorkeling reefs is in the works, according to W.A. “Buck” Lee, executive director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, and Robert Turpin, manager of Escambia’s Marine Resources Division.
One of the reefs would be located a couple hundred feet into the Gulf of Mexico near Park East, east of the Portofino towers. The piling-style reef would be geared for experienced snorkelers
Two pyramid-style reefs would be located in Pensacola Bay near Park West at the entrance to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The one closest to shore would be geared for children and novices, and one about 500 feet farther out would be for fishing and diving.
The three projects hinge on securing permits from a number of federal agencies, Turpin said.
The biggest hurdle is getting the National Marine Fisheries Service to sign off on the permits because the reefs are proposed in the critical Gulf sturgeon habitat, he said.
The county currently has 198 artificial reefs, including the largest in the world – the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany. But, unlike the three proposed reefs, they’re accessible only by boat.
The goal of the snorkeling reefs is to generate more money for Pensacola Beach by providing tourists with more to do so they extend their vacations, Lee said.
Beverly McCay, general manager of Holiday Inn Express on Pensacola Beach near Park West, said guests often ask where’s the best place to snorkel or beach dive.
“Anything that enhances the vacation experience can extend the tourist’s stay,” McCay said. “Some tourists who come on a weekend may see that there’s so much to do and then decide to come back and spend a week.”
Randy Larcom of Bay Breeze Aquatics & Dive Center in Gulf Breeze said people call on a regular basis looking for snorkeling opportunities.
“Right now about the only place we can send anybody is Fort Pickens, but it’s not the best place to snorkel,” he said of the popular scuba-diving spot.
That’s because snorkelers have to compete with divers and fight strong currents at the mouth of Pensacola Pass, off Fort Pickens.
“Anything that can be made for tourists in shallow enough water would be a big help,” Larcom said.
His business, he said, would benefit by renting snorkeling equipment to people who could enjoy watching a variety of fish, such as snapper, grouper, flounder and trigger fish around the reefs. The three projects hinge on securing permits from a number of federal agencies, Turpin said.
The biggest hurdle is getting the National Marine Fisheries Service to sign off on the permits because the reefs are proposed in the critical Gulf sturgeon habitat, he said.
The county currently has 198 artificial reefs, including the largest in the world – the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany. But, unlike the three proposed reefs, they’re accessible only by boat.
The goal of the snorkeling reefs is to generate more money for Pensacola Beach by providing tourists with more to do so they extend their vacations, Lee said.
Beverly McCay, general manager of Holiday Inn Express on Pensacola Beach near Park West, said guests often ask where’s the best place to snorkel or beach dive.
“Anything that enhances the vacation experience can extend the tourist’s stay,” McCay said. “Some tourists who come on a weekend may see that there’s so much to do and then decide to come back and spend a week.”
Randy Larcom of Bay Breeze Aquatics & Dive Center in Gulf Breeze said people call on a regular basis looking for snorkeling opportunities.
“Right now about the only place we can send anybody is Fort Pickens, but it’s not the best place to snorkel,” he said of the popular scuba-diving spot.
That’s because snorkelers have to compete with divers and fight strong currents at the mouth of Pensacola Pass, off Fort Pickens.
“Anything that can be made for tourists in shallow enough water would be a big help,” Larcom said.
His business, he said, would benefit by renting snorkeling equipment to people who could enjoy watching a variety of fish, such as snapper, grouper, flounder and trigger fish around the reefs.
Snorkelers now mostly hunt shells and sand dollars and, if they’re lucky, catch glimpses of fleeting fish.
Keith Wilkins, Escambia’s deputy chief for neighborhood and community services, said Escambia County bed taxes would pay for the reefs.
An exact dollar amount has not been calculated, but reefs are not expensive, he said.
“A small reef is about $10,000,” he said. “These projects may be a little more.”

Snorkelers could get place to kick their fins

Officials hoping to install three reefs

Kimberly Blair • kblair@pnj.com • February 11, 2010

Snorkels, masks and fins may soon become as essential to a day on Pensacola Beach as sunscreen and boogie boards.

A proposal to install three near-shore snorkeling reefs is in the works, according to W.A. “Buck” Lee, executive director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, and Robert Turpin, manager of Escambia’s Marine Resources Division.

One of the reefs would be located a couple hundred feet into the Gulf of Mexico near Park East, east of the Portofino towers. The piling-style reef would be geared for experienced snorkelers

Two pyramid-style reefs would be located in Pensacola Bay near Park West at the entrance to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The one closest to shore would be geared for children and novices, and one about 500 feet farther out would be for fishing and diving.

The three projects hinge on securing permits from a number of federal agencies, Turpin said.

The biggest hurdle is getting the National Marine Fisheries Service to sign off on the permits because the reefs are proposed in the critical Gulf sturgeon habitat, he said.

The county currently has 198 artificial reefs, including the largest in the world — the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany. But, unlike the three proposed reefs, they’re accessible only by boat.

The goal of the snorkeling reefs is to generate more money for Pensacola Beach by providing tourists with more to do so they extend their vacations, Lee said.

Beverly McCay, general manager of Holiday Inn Express on Pensacola Beach near Park West, said guests often ask where’s the best place to snorkel or beach dive.

“Anything that enhances the vacation experience can extend the tourist’s stay,” McCay said. “Some tourists who come on a weekend may see that there’s so much to do and then decide to come back and spend a week.”

Randy Larcom of Bay Breeze Aquatics & Dive Center in Gulf Breeze said people call on a regular basis looking for snorkeling opportunities.

“Right now about the only place we can send anybody is Fort Pickens, but it’s not the best place to snorkel,” he said of the popular scuba-diving spot.

That’s because snorkelers have to compete with divers and fight strong currents at the mouth of Pensacola Pass, off Fort Pickens.

“Anything that can be made for tourists in shallow enough water would be a big help,” Larcom said.

His business, he said, would benefit by renting snorkeling equipment to people who could enjoy watching a variety of fish, such as snapper, grouper, flounder and trigger fish around the reefs. The three projects hinge on securing permits from a number of federal agencies, Turpin said.

The biggest hurdle is getting the National Marine Fisheries Service to sign off on the permits because the reefs are proposed in the critical Gulf sturgeon habitat, he said.

The county currently has 198 artificial reefs, including the largest in the world — the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany. But, unlike the three proposed reefs, they’re accessible only by boat.

The goal of the snorkeling reefs is to generate more money for Pensacola Beach by providing tourists with more to do so they extend their vacations, Lee said.

Beverly McCay, general manager of Holiday Inn Express on Pensacola Beach near Park West, said guests often ask where’s the best place to snorkel or beach dive.

“Anything that enhances the vacation experience can extend the tourist’s stay,” McCay said. “Some tourists who come on a weekend may see that there’s so much to do and then decide to come back and spend a week.”

Randy Larcom of Bay Breeze Aquatics & Dive Center in Gulf Breeze said people call on a regular basis looking for snorkeling opportunities.

“Right now about the only place we can send anybody is Fort Pickens, but it’s not the best place to snorkel,” he said of the popular scuba-diving spot.

That’s because snorkelers have to compete with divers and fight strong currents at the mouth of Pensacola Pass, off Fort Pickens.

“Anything that can be made for tourists in shallow enough water would be a big help,” Larcom said.

His business, he said, would benefit by renting snorkeling equipment to people who could enjoy watching a variety of fish, such as snapper, grouper, flounder and trigger fish around the reefs.

Snorkelers now mostly hunt shells and sand dollars and, if they’re lucky, catch glimpses of fleeting fish.

Keith Wilkins, Escambia’s deputy chief for neighborhood and community services, said Escambia County bed taxes would pay for the reefs.

An exact dollar amount has not been calculated, but reefs are not expensive, he said.

“A small reef is about $10,000,” he said. “These projects may be a little more.”