Commercial Menhaden Industry Continues to Draw Criticism
Members interested in recreational saltwater fishing may want to attend Thursday’s Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting or follow the meeting online. Click HERE to view the LWFC meeting beginning at 9:30 am Thursday, October 5th.
An agenda item on Red Drum (redfish) is expected to include a report on public comments about proposed changes to recreational harvest for redfish.
The agenda item on Menhaden (pogy) will likely draw public comments and lots of Commission discussion due to the recent reports that commercial Menhaden boats’ nets were cut — or nets were torn from excess catch –and released dead pogy and other by-catch on beaches in Cameron Parish. It’s not the first time this has happened in recent years and it’s hard to understand why the industry cannot be more responsible in its operations. LDWF’s Enforcement Division investigates, not only these kinds of incidents, but also reports of pogy boats illegally in the exclusion zone along parts of the coast, particularly the southwest Louisiana area. You can bet recreational users are reporting what appears to be boats drifting into the exclusion zone.
Here’s a TV news story from KPLC:
Also The Advocate posted an article you might not have seen:
LWF’s position on Menhaden:
Since 2021, Louisiana Wildlife Federation has supported creating a buffer zone excluding commercial Menhaden fishing of up to one mile off Louisiana’s coast, like our neighbor states. No doubt there is conflict among users when large commercial boats are using the same waters small recreational boats are also fishing. But before calling for a ban on Menhaden fishing, LWF supports funding for a new Menhaden by-catch study. We eagerly await more information from that study and how much Menhaden fishing reduces the total biomass in the system and impacts from by-catch.
An exclusion/buffer zone was put in place in 2022. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission established a menhaden fishing buffer zone that is a quarter mile off the inside-outside line except in Breton and Chandeleur Sounds, with exceptions such as an exclusion zone of 1 mile from Belle Pass to Caminada (off Elmer’s Island) and from Barataria to Pass Abel (Grand Terre), and 3 miles off Grand Isle.
I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a few proposals to change these buffer zones at the Commission meeting. Stay tuned for follow-up and possible regulatory changes you can comment about.
-Rebecca Triche, Executive Director