Alert: Hurricane Irma Hits Florida. Gulf Fishermen Affected.
by Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink & Gulf Seafood Foundation Board Member
In the Gulf of Mexico, hurricane after hurricane and disaster after disaster, Gulf fishermen and their families are often the hardest hit and most forgotten when it comes to piecing their lives back together. Hurricane Harvey is no different. While the world awes at photos of a flooded downtown Houston, the media has failed to cover the grounded or sunk fishing boats, destroyed docks or flooded processing and ice houses.
“Our fishing community is suffering,” said Jim Gossen, president of the Gulf Seafood Foundation. “Livelihoods have been demolished from Corpus Christi, TX to Grand Isle, LA a lot of our brethren are going to need a lot of help to get back on their feet, much less back in business. That is why the board of directors of the Gulf Seafood Foundation has committed all funds raised for the rest of this year by the non-profit to be donated toward helping the Gulf Coastal fishing communities.”
The Gulf Seafood Foundation was formed to support and promote the high standards for the Gulf’s vast commercial and recreational fisheries industry, but its rooted in helping Gulf fishing communities during times of disasters.
A 501(c)(3) Organization
In 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated Gulf fishing communities and their infrastructure from Louisiana to Alabama. To assist in the recovery, Friends of the Fishermen, the predecessor of the Gulf Seafood Foundation a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded.
“Following Hurricane Katrina, the flooding in New Orleans captured all the news cycles despite the severe impact upon our fishing communities,” said Ewell Smith, the former Executive Director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and a founder of the Friends of the Fishermen charity. “They were the first hit and hit the hardest…our fishermen lost everything from their homes, to their boats, cars, fishing gear and lives. Our fisheries infrastructure was demolished; between Hurricane Katrina and Rita we lost three of America’s largest fishing docks in a month. The needs were tremendous, to start addressing them we established Friends of the Fishermen to help secure media attention and resources so the most basic of needs like ice houses could be restored and they could get back to work.”
According to Smith, the Gulf Seafood Foundation Board Donation Chair, “the needs are the same today as back during Katrina and Rita. We are we are waiting on damage assessments but there are concerns that the storm may have severely damaged the oyster and shrimp harvests.”
Five disasters later, the Friends of the Fishermen continued upon its mission to strengthen and revitalize the Gulf seafood industry, identify threats and execute strategic plans to successfully navigate troubled waters.
The Gulf Seafood Foundation is committed to continue the important work of its predecessor. Its membership is national and derived from of every sector of the seafood industry: harvesters, educators, processors/wholesalers, restaurateurs, retailers, fisheries resource managers, public health officers, and marketing specialists.
“Every dollar donated to the Foundation will go toward helping those who provide Gulf fish to the tables across America and around the world. We have had donation interest from the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York, as well as the Montreal Oysterfest asking how they can help,” said Gossen. “We are resilient. We are survivors. We have been through this before and we have always come back stronger. This will be no exception.”
How to Contribute
To donate to the Gulf Seafood Foundation please choose the DONATE button below or send a check or money order to: Gulf Seafood Foundation Hurricane Harvey Relief, 2851 Johnston Street, Suite 162, Lafayette, LA 70503.