Sea Briefs is a report on the results of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.
Editor: Valerie Winn
is available in PDF format from:
MASGC supports applied, interdisciplinary marine science research, education and outreach efforts to foster the sustainable development and management of the Mississippi and Alabama coasts and nearshore ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico
PETER NGUYEN, a Sea Grant fisheries technologist, serves the Gulf Coast’s growing Vietnamese fishing community. A 15-year veteran shrimper, Nguyen speaks both English and Vietnamese and helps engage Vietnamese fishermen in important fishing industry issues. In addition to offering the fishermen technical assistance, such as providing information about new regulations and proposed legislation, he helps relay fishermen’s concerns back to agencies, organizations and researchers. He has also been instrumental in helping Vietnamese fishermen participate in the effort to gather data used to develop a fishing effort profile of the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery by assisting Vietnamese fishermen in using electronic logbook (ELB) technology. Covering an area from Pass Christian, Miss. to Bayou La Batre, Ala., Nguyen has interacted with nearly 100 shrimpers since he accepted the position in the spring of 2006. His office is located at the Mississippi State University’s Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, Miss.
1. What positive results have come about because of your interaction with the Vietnamese fishermen?
I understand their problems and how they have to deal with the rising prices of ice and fuel and their boats breaking down. When they have other problems, such as a need to acquire mandatory permits, they come to me and I direct them to the proper sources.
2. How has your experience as a shrimper benefited you in your work?
I know that being a shrimper is very tough. There’s a lot of worry and stress. I was a shrimper for 15 years. From 2002 to 2005, I operated a 95-foot steel hull boat. I understand what the local fishermen have been through. They can trust me because I know about all the things that can happen to them—both good and bad.
3. Which aspect of your work has brought you the most satisfaction?
The turnout of Vietnamese fishermen at the NOAA permit meeting. Many of them were reluctant to attend, but they needed to understand about renewing their licenses. They were glad they came and they’ll make sure that the next time I tell them about a meeting, they will come. I’m also glad to be able to help them understand NOAA regulations.
4. Will you describe your job?
I help the Vietnamese fishing community and find where they have problems in understanding laws and legislation, especially if they don’t understand the document. That’s when I explain it to them.
5. What kind of feedback have you received from Vietnamese shrimpers?
They’re happy to see me because I’m the only person who will listen and understand their problems. They know that the information will be related back to the Research Center through me. I guess I’m like a bridge between the Vietnamese shrimpers and the Research Center. Both parties are happy because the Research Center gets the information and the shrimpers get any updated regulations and information.
"JAY" BOULET is
employed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) in St. Petersburg, Fla., where she manages
a commercial landings database for Gulf of Mexico fisheries. Involved
in the seafood industry for nearly 20 years, she spent 12 years
working for NOAA Fisheries in New Orleans as a port agent for
Plaquemines Parish. Her job involves collecting shrimp landing
data and biological fish samplings as well as providing fishery
resources to the fishermen and dealers in the area. She has worked
closely with fishermen and has informed the industry on changes in the
fisheries regulations. Boulet has also worked with Sea Grant agents
in conducting bilingual meetings and translating materials to educate
and English-speaking fishermen on various shrimp and fish regulations.
She holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the
University of Tampa.
Fisheries Service is responsible for the management, conservation and
protection of living marine resources within the United States
Exclusive Economic Zone. Many factors, both natural and human-related,
affect the status of fish stocks, protected species and ecosystems.
Although these factors cannot all be controlled, available scientific
and management tools enable the agency to have a strong influence on
many of them.
7. How have the fishing communities along the Gulf states changed over the years?
By the 1980s, many Vietnamese arrived in the United States as refugees and resided throughout all 50 states. Around the mid-1980s the Vietnamese with fishing experience from their native country, found a second home along the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Many of these were not able to earn new skills and have had hard times learning English in a short time period. They have found fishing and shrimping as ways to support their families.
8. What is the most challenging barrier the Vietnamese fishing/shrimping community faces?
Fisheries Service has an obligation to conserve, protect and manage
living marine resources. To fulfill these obligations, it has
introduced amendments to the regulations that help maintain healthy
stocks, rebuild and eliminate over-fished stocks and increase long-term
economic and social benefits. The Vietnamese fishermen have struggled
with the language barrier for many years, and as a result, some of them
9. How have the involvement of NOAA Fisheries and Sea Grant assisted the Vietnamese fishermen?
Fisheries Service understands the struggle Vietnamese fishermen have
been facing and the agency has provided resources to inform and educate
them on the changes. NOAA Fisheries and Sea Grant agents have worked
closely putting together bilingual meetings, videos and workshops on
TEDs (Turtle Exclusion Devices). We have also translated some English
materials into Vietnamese. We provided language assistance
10. Where can fishermen find more resources on fishing regulations?
Fishermen and dealers can access the following Web sites for information: Permits – http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/permits.htm; Fishery Bulletins – http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov; Southeast Regional Office – http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/directorate/phone.htm. Fishermen and dealers should get involved in the fishery regulations process. More information is available from: http://www.gulfcouncil.org.