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Where Are They Now?

Steve Bortone, Minnesota Sea Grant's Director from 2006-2009.

Steve Bortone, Minnesota
Sea Grant's Director from
2006-2009.

Steve Bortone, Minnesota Sea Grant's Director from 2006–2009, is the Executive Director of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in Tampa, Florida. We asked him for an insider's account of the oil spill in the Gulf.

Hello from sunny Tampa, Florida. Since leaving Minnesota, I have been very busy with issues pertaining to managing fishes in the Gulf. My wife, Shelby, and I miss our home and friends in the Northland, but we have acclimated well to our new environs.

A couple of months ago, everything changed when oil spilled into the Gulf. Those of us in the environmental business knew it was going to be bad. The unknowns were and remain: how bad and for how long? We have no scientific data, as yet, on the impact of the oil spill on fish stocks, but it is likely that there will be a major impact on the eggs and larvae of fish that have recently spawned in the area. One speculation is that the 2010 year class of fish will be reduced considerably. That won’t affect fisheries for a few years, but you can project that the oil spill, even if it stopped today, will affect fisheries for years to come.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service is purposely establishing fishery closures to assure that seafood products coming out of the Gulf remain reliable and safe. One big concern is that the brand image of Fresh Gulf Seafood will suffer–perhaps needlessly–as a result of the spill. Once the public loses confidence in these products, it may take years to restore its faith.

The lives and livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people have suffered. Charter boat fishermen in portions of the Gulf are out of work. People are cancelling reservations for motels. Virtually every coastal economic sector is affected, including: bait dealers, commercial fishermen, deck hands, sporting goods storeowners, waiters, and boat repairmen. This was supposed to be the season where communities could bounce back from the recession. The oil spill in the Gulf has already taken a toll economically, socially, and environmentally. Our challenge is to figure out how to minimize the damage.


By Sea Grant Staff
July 2010

Return to July 2010 Seiche



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