RFP: Fishing boat owners needed for Gulf of Mexico oil spill fishery restoration

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest maritime oil spill in United States history, discharging millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over a period of eighty-seven days. In addition, approximately 1.8 million gallons of dispersants (products that break up oil into smaller particles) were applied to the spill area. Many oceanic, or pelagic, fish species in the Gulf were injured during the spill, including tuna, billfish, sharks and mackerel, as well as deepwater fish such as lancetfish. Fishing businesses and communities depend on these natural resources, which are also a critical component of the Gulf ecosystem. But many of these species have yet to be fully restored.

To address the problem, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), seeking qualified independent contractors for its Deepwater Horizon Oceanic Fish Restoration Project Supporting a Healthier Gulf of Mexico initiative, which aims to help restore fish species that were injured as a result of the oil spill by reducing fishing mortality during a temporary, voluntary, six-month repose period each year where participating vessel owners will refrain from pelagic longline fishing. The project began in 2017 and will continue annually for an estimated five to ten years.

Participants in the initiative will be compensated to help offset their loss in revenue during the repose period and will be provided with alternative gear that specifically target yellowfin tuna and swordfish and result in low bycatch of other fish species. By fishing with the alternative gear, participating vessel owners will continue to hire a crew, purchase fuel and supplies from shore-side businesses, and bring fish to market.

Working with participants, dealers, and researchers on this portion of the project also will provide NFWF and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with an opportunity to study and improve the efficiency of these types of fishing gear over time.

NFWF anticipates selecting multiple contractors to collectively perform multiple functions under the project, with the selected contractors serving as liaisons between the local fishing community and the project management team, which will include NFWF and NOAA as well as additional subcontractors; assisting with outreach to fish dealers and upmarket supply chain businesses; planning and coordinating training activities for project participants; and managing project assets (fishing gear), including inventory management, transfer logistics, and storage.

The contract period of performance is estimated to be two years, with NFWF’s option to extend for up to four additional years as needed. The selected contractors are expected to be based in the Gulf of Mexico and should have the willingness and ability to start immediately (within two weeks of the offer). Travel within the Gulf is expected.

Reply by: June 14, 2018.

Photo credit: Marco Crisari / NFWF.

View complete RFP information.

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