LA Redfish Industry Gains Key Protections
In a win for Louisiana’s coastline, Wildlife and Fisheries adopted a Notice of Intent to extend the coastlife buffer to one mile prohibiting commercial golfing of Gulf menhaden.
On October 5, this NOI was adopted in response to a series of net spills by two industrial pogie boat operators that resulted in the deaths of 850,000 menhaden and hundreds of redfish. This Notice of Intent would extend the quarter-mile-wide buffer instituted this season. There is also a more stringent penalty and reporting requirements for future net spills.
The NOI must pass through state House and Senate Natural Resources Committee review before being instituted in 2024.
Menhaden, also known as pogies, are a critical food source for Louisiana’s iconic redfish as well as speckled trout. Despite this, nearly 1 billion pounds of pogies are harvested by that industry every year, mostly from Louisiana. Pogie boats have been allowed to fish as close as 500 yards from the shoreline, disrupting fragile ecosystems like redfish spawning grounds.
Redfish fishing in Louisiana is a $22.5-billion industry; however, for the first time in our state’s history, we have had to stock the waters with more. This is attributed to overfishing and disruption of their natural habitats by the pogie fishing industry.
“This represents a significant step forward in the conservation and management of Louisiana’s fisheries,” says Chris Macaluso, director of the Center for Marine Fisheries for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission thankfully has recognized that the concerns of anglers and conservation advocates are valid, and that Louisiana’s nearshore habitats need protection from foreign-owned, industrial pogie fishing boats. This is a big win for redfish, speckled trout, mackerel, dolphins, brown pelicans, and a host of other fish and wildlife, and a win for those who appreciate and enjoy Louisiana’s coast.”
“We thank the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for taking this positive step towards protecting our fragile coastlines and the fish and wildlife that live there,” says David Cresson, executive director and CEO for the Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana. “The action of the commissioners last week, and many Louisiana legislators who encouraged that action, was a tremendous show of leadership. Now it is critical that we stay vigilant and focused as the NOI continues through the process and these much-needed regulations are finalized.”