December 20th
SOS Gives $50,000 Holiday Gift to the Friends of the Fishermen Fund
New Orleans- Christmas is coming early this week for some Louisiana fishermen. More than 250 fishermen will receive a check from the Friends of the Fishermen Fund.

The fund was created in July and has raised more than $127,000 for Louisiana Fishermen. For the initial distribution, 257 fishermen will each receive $500 . Corporate and Individual donors were a part of this outpouring of support for Louisiana fishermen following the Gulf Oil Spill. Friends of Louisiana fishermen include, Abita Beer; Rouses Markets and their customers; Hurricane Harley Davidson; Casa Argentina Social Club of New Orleans; Sammy Kershaw’s Protect Our Coastline, New Orleans restaurants; artist Michael Israel; South Florida Foodies, SUGARCANE raw bar grill; the Miami International Wine Fair; and individual donors.

The Friends of the Fishermen fund was started as a way to help the fishermen who were affected by the BP oil spill. The fund is endorsed by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and administrated by the South Central Planning and Development Commission. The Seafood Board selected this commission to allocate funds to Louisiana fishermen based on the commission’s exemplary work managing similar responsibilities following Hurricane Katrina.

Mike Voisin, owner of Motivatit Seafood and 7th generation oysterman is chairman of the fund. “There are victims of the Gulf Oil Spill whose needs have not been met through other programs and we are happy that we were able to work with South Central Planning and Development Commission to identify those individuals and thankful to our donors who are brightening the spirits of some very deserving fishermen,” said Voisin.

Abita Brewing Company’s $50,000 donation comes from the SOS Charitable Fund, established by the brewing company to assist with restoration and recovery after the disastrous oil spill. Abita created a special beer, SOS (Save Our Shore) – A Charitable Pilsner, and donates 75 cents for every bottle sold to the fund. The SOS charitable fund has raised more than $255,000 for Gulf Oil Spill relief.

“We feel compelled as one of Louisiana’s favorite brands to assist our neighbors and the coastal environment as we continue to recover from this disaster,” stated David Blossman President of Abita Brewing Company. “Being able to help these families during the Christmas season is a gift we’re pleased and proud to give.”

Ali Rouse, of Rouses Markets said that their company, customers and team members raised more than $25,000 in four short weeks when they sold white boots made of paper at the registers of their stores in Louisiana and Mississippi.

“After Katrina and Rita, then again after Gustav and Ike, we saw how a community pulling together could make a difference for a person, a neighborhood, a community, a state, even a region,” said Rouse. “With the spill, we saw an opportunity to help our fishing communities, and our friends, team members, and partners immediately stepped up to join us. I feel good about the money we raised, but even better about the team work that went in to raising it.”
In preparation for fund distribution, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries worked with South Central Development and Planning Commission to identify commercial fishing license holders. Applications and surveys were sent to 2515 fishermen and 1157 responded. From this data the group was able to identify fishermen who resided in affected parishes and eliminate those who had the opportunity to work for the BP vessels of opportunity program.

“Our agency was the administrator for the “Back to the Dock” program which was funded by Shell Oil and gave funds to fishermen following Hurricane Katrina and assisting with distribution donations for the Friends of the Fishermen Fund was a natural fit for us. We are thankful for the donors who make this distribution of checks possible,” said Kevin Belanger, CEO for South Central Development and Planning Commission.

The Friends of the Fishermen Fund hopes to distribute additional funding as it becomes available through other means including their partnership with the 2011 Black and Gold Super Fan Calendar, which features some of the New Orleans Saints most colorful fans. The calendar can be purchased online at http://www.superfancalendar.com or locally at Rouses Markets. The New Orleans Hornets also recently launched their “Believe in Blue Campaign” which will benefit Friends of the Fishermen among other gulf coast charities.