The United Fishermen of Alaska, one of the nation's largest commercial fishing groups, has extended offers of support to the Southern Shrimp Alliance and its more than 500 members in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The offer of support includes gear, apparel and logistical support to SSA which is made up of shrimp boat, dock and business owners in eight states spanning the Gulf and South Atlantic coasts.
"As an industry we are one of the most competitive around," said Mark Vinsel, UFA's executive director. "However, there's an unspoken code among all fishermen that whenever one of us is in need it's everyone's responsibility to do what's needed to help. It's a brutal business that is often at the mercy of Mother Nature, and this week's Gulf hurricane could be next week's Alaskan tidal wave."
Currently, the UFA is working with SSA and other organizations such as Wild American Shrimp, Inc. to tally a list of pressing items of need. At the top of list is gear, including netting, apparel and replacement parts and machinery.
"Shrimping in the United States has always been more than just a business, it has been a way of life," said Joey Rodriguez, SSA president. "Shrimping has defined entire communities throughout the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard. Today, our tradition, our way of life is threatened. We welcome the support of our Alaskan brothers and thank them for their efforts as we rebuild our industry and communities."
"Obviously this disaster is without precedent. But the domestic shrimp industry and the American shrimper has a history of facing and overcoming obstacles, including natural disaster," said Eddie Gordon, past SSA president and executive director of Wild American Shrimp, Inc. "This is a region, a people and an industry that weathers storms and rebuilds communities. And in that respect, Katrina will not be different thanks to the generous support of UFA and others."
Katrina Sportsmen-women Relief
As part of its charitable mission to help those in need around the world, the SCI Foundation has launched the Hurricane Katrina Sportsmen-women Relief Fund, a humanitarian effort by which sportsmen may do their part in helping victims in the Gulf States recover from the devastation recently inflicted by Hurricane Katrina.
All Katrina Fund donations will go to the law enforcement divisions of the various state fish and game departments involved in search and rescue efforts for the purchase of much-needed fuel and drinkable water.
"Gulf State fish and game department resources are rapidly being depleted as a result of the utter destruction of the region," said Mike Simpson, SCI Foundation president. "The SCI Foundation has already committed $25,000 to help ease the monumental suffering occurring in those southern states blasted by Katrina, and is now seeking immediate donations through the mail or the SCI Foundation Web site to support fish and game rescue efforts."
In addition, the SCI Foundation is actively reaching out to other outdoor sporting and conservation organizations, including members of American Wildlife Conservation Partners, and is leading a cooperative effort between itself and these groups to bring even more humanitarian resources to bear throughout the region.
"Individual sportsmen also can help end the suffering being experienced throughout this shattered region," Simpson said. "It is within our power to help end this regional ordeal, and I ask everyone to consider what they can do and urge them to make a donation even if it is only a small amount."
Individuals, organizations and companies in the outdoor industry interested in giving to the SCI Foundation Hurricane Katrina Sportsmen-women Relief Fund should check on the SCI Foundation Web site, www.sci-foundation.org/humanitarian.
Donations also can be sent to: SCI Foundation Hurricane Katrina Sportsmen-women Relief Fund; 4800 West Gates Pass Road; Tucson, Arizona 85745; USA. Funds should be made out to the SCI Foundation, with "Hurricane Katrina Sportsmen-women Relief Fund" written in the memo space.
Call 877-877-3265 or visit www.sci-foundation.org for more information.
Wildlife Refuges Temporarily Closed
Sixteen federal wildlife refuges in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have been temporarily closed until further notice due to the impact from Hurricane Katrina.
A group of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge officials are operating out of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR near Gautier, Miss, north of Biloxi. So far, the service has moved nearly 100 people into the coastal area, and is focusing its efforts in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior Web site, personnel from the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Fish and Wildlife Service are helping provide relief aid.
Additionally, the Interior department's Minerals Management Service is assessing possible impact on natural gas and oil well operations in the Gulf.