Fishing

LWF Commission Moves Forward With 2012 Crab Trap Removal Program

Release Date: 09/01/2011

(Sept. 1, 2011)- Today, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved a motion to continue the abandoned crab trap removal program for 2012.  Two winter crab trap closures and clean-ups are planned for portions of St. Bernard, Plaquemines and Terrebonne parishes on designated dates in February and March next year. 

Since 2004, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, together with individual volunteers and organizations, has successfully removed and disposed of nearly 20,000 abandoned and derelict crabs.  The removal of these crab traps is especially important to boating safety and crab harvesting efforts. 

LDWF will partner with Louisiana Sea Grant for the 2012 crab trap removal efforts.  As the 2012 removal weekends approach, Louisiana Sea Grant will help organize volunteers, provide educational outreach on marine debris, as well as establish a recycling effort for crab traps.

St. Bernard/Plaquemines Crab Trap Removal

The use of crab traps will be prohibited in the following areas beginning at 6 a.m., February 25, 2012 through 6 a.m., March 5 2012:

•  From a point originating along the southern shoreline of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) at 89 degrees 36 minutes 00 seconds west longitude; thence southward along  89 degrees 36 minutes 00 seconds west longitude to 29 degrees 39 minutes 00 seconds north latitude; thence westward along 29 degrees 39 minutes 00 seconds north latitude to 89 degrees 38 minutes 30 seconds west longitude; thence southward along 89 degrees 38 minutes 30 seconds west longitude to 29 degrees 38 minutes 00 seconds north latitude; thence westward along 29 degrees 38 minutes 00 seconds north latitude to 89 degrees 40 minutes 30 seconds west longitude; thence southward along 89 degrees 40 minutes 30 seconds west longitude to 29 degrees 34 minutes 00 seconds north latitude; thence westward along 29 degrees 34 minutes 00 seconds north latitude to the eastern shore of the Mississippi River; thence northward along the eastern shore of the Mississippi River to 89 degrees 54 minutes 00 seconds west longitude; thence northward along 89 degrees 54 minutes 00 seconds west longitude to the southern shoreline of the MRGO; thence eastward along the southern shoreline of the MRGO terminating at the point of beginning.

Terrebonne Crab Trap Removal

The use of crab traps will be prohibited in the following areas beginning at 6 a.m., March 17 through 6 a.m. Mar 26, 2012:

•  From a point originating from the intersection of LA Highway 57 and Dulac Canal; thence east along LA Highway 57 to its intersection with LA 56; thence due east to the western shoreline of Bayou Little Caillou; thence north along the western shoreline of Bayou Little Caillou to its intersection with Lapeyrouse Canal; thence east along the northern shoreline of Lapeyrouse Canal to its intersection with Bayou Terrebonne; thence south along the eastern shoreline of Bayou Terrebonne to its intersection with Seabreeze Pass; thence southwest to channel marker number 17 of the Houma Navigation Channel at 29 degrees 11 minutes 11.3 seconds north latitude 90 degrees 36 minutes 44.5 seconds west longitude; thence southwest to the northern most point on Pass la Poule Island at 29 degrees 08 minutes 33.5 seconds north latitude 90 degrees 39 seconds 01.3 seconds west longitude; thence west to Bayou Sale channel marker at 29 degrees 06 minutes 31.8 seconds north latitude 90 degrees 44 minutes 34.2 seconds west longitude; thence north to the western shoreline of Bayou Sale; thence north along the western shoreline of Bayou Sale to its intersection with Four Point Bayou; thence north along the western shoreline of Four Point Bayou its intersection with the Houma Navigation Channel; thence north along the western shoreline of the Houma Navigation Channel to its intersection with Bayou Grand Caillou; thence north along the western shoreline of Bayou Grand Caillou to its intersection with Dulac Canal; thence east along the northern shoreline of Dulac Canal and terminating at the point of beginning.

All crab traps remaining in the closed area during the specified period will be considered abandoned. 

In the weeks leading up to the closure periods, LDWF will send notices to all licensed recreational and commercial crab trap license holders and crab buyers within these and adjacent parishes. 

These proposed trap removal regulations do not provide authorization for access to private property.  Authorization to access private property can only be provided by individual landowners. 

Crab traps may be removed only between one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.  Anyone may remove these abandoned crab traps from within the closed area.    Abandoned traps must be brought to LDWF designated disposal sites and may not be taken from the closed area. 

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at Louisiana State University, is part of the National Sea Grant Program, a network of 30 programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb, or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

Interested persons may submit written comments relative to the proposed rule to Martin Bourgeois, Marine Fisheries Biologist, Marine Fisheries Section, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000, prior to November 3, 2011. 

For media inquiries, contact Olivia Watkins at owatkins@wlf.la.gov or (225) 610-8660.

LWF Commission Sets 2011-2012 Louisiana Oyster Seasons

Release Date: 09/01/2011

Oyster

(Sept. 1, 2011)– Today, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission set the 2011/2012 oyster seasons based on oyster stock assessments provided by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists and comments received from members of the public, including the oyster industry. 

The following opening dates were set for the upcoming oyster season:

  • The Little Lake Public Oyster Seed Grounds will open at one-half hour before sunrise on Wednesday,  September 7, 2011.
  • With the exception of Calcasieu and Sabine lakes, all remaining public oyster seed grounds and reservations, including the Machias Fortuna    sacking only area and the American Bay/Bay Long sacking-only area, will open at one-half hour before sunrise on Monday, October 17, 2011.
  • The oyster season in the west cove portion of the Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster Area (Department of Health and Hospitals’ harvest area 30)   will open at   one-half hour before sunrise on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.  The sack limit during this time period is set at 10 sacks per person per vessel per day.
  • The east side of Calcasieu Lake (Department of Health and Hospitals’ harvest area 29) and the Sabine Lake Public Oyster Area will remain closed for the entire 2011/2012 oyster season.

For a map detailing the 2011/2012 oyster season, click here

Closure dates will be determined by LDWF Secretary Barham on an “as needed” basis, based on biological and harvest data.  LDWF biologists will closely monitor harvest and continue to collect biological information from public reefs as the season progresses. 

Public notice of any opening, delay, or closure of a season will be provided at least 72 hours prior to such action, unless such closure is ordered by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for public health concerns.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb, or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For media inquiries contact Olivia Watkins at owatkins@wlf.la.gov or (225) 610-8660.

 

Louisiana Officials Continue to Investigate Pearl River Fish Kill

Release Date: 08/26/2011

August 26, 2011 – Louisiana officials continue to investigate the impacts of the Temple-Inland discharge of “black liquor” on the Pearl River’s fisheries resources. Numerous levels of assessment are underway by the Louisiana departments of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), Health and Hospitals (DHH), and Environmental Quality (DEQ), including seafood safety testing, waterbody quality tests, testing of private water wells, evaluation of baseline species and efforts to determine the of effects on fish and other aquatic life as a result of the wastewater discharge that occurred on Tuesday, August 9, 2011. State officials continue to work together to assess the incident impact and long-term recovery plans.

Seafood Testing

Fisheries biologists with LDWF collected seafood samples throughout the Pearl River and at the mouth of the river in the Rigolets. DHH sanitarians also collected oyster samples from areas near the mouth of the river to be tested. All of the samples were sent to an independent laboratory in Metairie, La., contracted by DHH.

Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory, the company which helped test Louisiana’s seafood during the Gulf oil spill, is testing samples from this incident for volatile and semi-volatile organic contaminants. These types of chemicals don’t typically build up in seafood tissue, however, state officials are having these tests conducted out of an abundance of caution.

Determining Fisheries Impacts and Restitution Claims

LDWF is also working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS), Louisiana State University fisheries experts, and officials with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to determine the loss of aquatic life, including fish and freshwater mussels.

Initially, more than 26 species of freshwater fish were identified in the fish kill.  They include Paddlefish, American eel, catfish, bass and bluegill. Species with similar characteristics were grouped together in some cases due to the massive volume of fish and the expansive range of the kill.   There are, for example, numerous specific species of darter fish in the Pearl River only distinguishable by variations on the dorsal fin, small color variations or other minute differences.  Experts with the Tulane University Natural History Museum are working with LDWF fisheries biologists to establish a baseline for species native to the Pearl River. That baseline will serve as the “before” picture for restitution claims.

A total restitution value for the fish kill will be compiled once the investigation is complete.  LDWF officials are working with USFWS in their investigation into the deaths of federally listed threatened and endangered species.   More than 26 threatened gulf sturgeons were involved in the incident.  Work is currently underway to determine its status of the inflated heelsplitter, a threatened freshwater mussel species.  In addition to state restitution values for fish and freshwater mussel deaths, Temple-Inland may be subject to civil or criminal fines for those species covered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Officials with LDWF are also developing a three-year monitoring plan to monitor the re-establishment of Pearl River aquatic resources.   Selected sampling gears, including electrofishing and nets will be employed under standardized protocol to ensure that results accurately represent the status of recovery.   LDWF plans to continue to pursue an agreement with Temple-Inland by which the responsible party would pay for the necessary fisheries resource monitoring.

Waterbody Safety, Monitoring and Ongoing Investigation

DEQ’s Incident Command post is still up and running at Temple-Inland and serves as a central point for DEQ staff to coordinate sampling events and record data. An overflight of the impacted area by DEQ occurred on Wednesday, August 24; during that overflight no dead fish were observed. Overflights will continue to determine if any additional fish remain. If additional fish are located, they will be cleaned up and disposed of by a team on standby for that purpose.

The compliance order and amended compliance order for Temple-Inland have been issued. This is the first step in the legal process for issuing penalties and for ensuring upgrades are in place to better treat and monitor discharges from the facility.

The company has been given permission to begin a limited discharge, which will commence today, August 26. Yesterday, DEQ staff was on site walking through the plan with the company in preparation for the discharge.

DEQ continues to collect water samples along various portions of the river.

The survey will gather water quality information that will be used to restore and protect the waterbody. Data gathered from the survey will be used to identify suspected pollutants in the waterbody that may cause or contribute to low oxygen levels in the water.

Citizens are asked not to tamper with the equipment that will be mounted on rebar, fence posts, white PVC poles or buoys. During the survey, a bright red, non-toxic dye will be injected into the water. Citizens who notice the red coloration of the water should not be alarmed. The water body will return to its normal state and color by the end of the day. The dye is used to determine flow and distribution patterns of the bayou. These patterns are used to establish sampling points for the survey.

DEQ will also install electronic monitoring equipment in conjunction with a water sampling survey on Pearl River in Washington and St. Tammany parishes.

Water Safety Measures

DHH has tested 18 privately owned domestic water wells located near the Pearl River. Results showed that water from these wells is safe to drink under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking water standards. DHH collected and tested samples from these private water wells chosen by St. Tammany and Washington parish officials and were within a quarter of a mile of the Pearl River. In Louisiana, the individual well owner is responsible for maintaining and testing their private well. However, in this instance, Temple-Inland is paying for the state’s testing.

Public Health Resources

The Louisiana Poison Center has received 13 calls in the past week regarding the Pearl River spill. Callers are generally requesting details on public health, consuming fish and swimming in affected water. Anyone with questions regarding potential health effects can call the Louisiana Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For press inquiries, Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.

LDWF Biologists Continue to Investigate Crab Mortalities in Lake Borgne

Release Date: 08/26/2011

August 26, 2011 – Fisheries biologists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) are investigating reports of crab mortalities by fishermen in Lake Borgne. The reports, which began on Sunday, August 21, were made by commercial fishermen pulling dead fish and crabs from traps through much of the lake. Initial reports indicate that areas of hypoxia, as a result of limited exchange of oxygen from the surface to the bottom layers of the water column, are the cause of these mortalities.

Hypoxic areas in the Gulf of Mexico, sometimes called “dead zones” can cause mortalities for those species unable to quickly relocate to areas where there is oxygen in the water for them to “breathe.” Hypoxic zones can be common along Louisiana’s coast in the summer months. Current hypoxic zones have been occurring in the northern Lake Borgne, the Mississippi Sound, Chandeleur Sound, Breton Sound, Black Bay and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) for approximately the last month, as well as the more well-known areas offshore west of the Mississippi River. Some of these areas have been experiencing some levels of hypoxia for the last two to three months.

While the current series of crab mortalities from hypoxia are in the general region at the mouth of the Pearl River where a dramatic fish kill was reported on August 13, fisheries experts do not believe the two events to be linked.  However, out of an abundance of caution, LDWF fisheries biologists collected crab samples and sent them to the independent laboratory, Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory, contracted by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for both volatile and semi-volatile testing.  

LDWF fisheries biologists report that high levels of freshwater that have inundated Lake Borgne and other waterbodies near the mouth of the Mississippi River likely created hypoxic areas that crab fishermen have encountered.

Unusually large amounts of freshwater has reduced the ability of the water to mix from top to bottom in many areas, affecting dissolved oxygen levels in the lower part of the water column.  In addition,high water temperatures further reduce the amount of oxygen the water can hold. Also, the large input of nutrients has led to increased organic production whose decomposition in the bottom layers further reduces oxygen concentrations.

Fisheries biologists with the state will continue to investigate crab and fish mortalities as they are reported. Once results of the tests are made available with DHH, they will be made available for the public. Fish kills are common occurrences in coastal Louisiana during the summer months. LDWF cooperates with other state agencies in monitoring these occurrences on an ongoing basis.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For press inquiries, contact Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.  

LDWF Reminds Anglers of Regulation Changes on Shared Waters With Texas

Release Date: 08/25/2011

Changes go into effect on September 1, 2011

(August 25, 2011) – For the first time, Louisiana and Texas will share consistent recreational fishing regulations governing their bordering waters.  The new regulations are scheduled to go into effect on September 1, 2011.  Biologists from the two states have agreed upon regulations that are biologically sound and consistent on both sides of the boundary.

The two states share waters along most of their common border, supporting excellent recreational fisheries and attracting thousands of anglers each year.  The line between the two states follows the Old Sabine River down through the middle of Toledo Bend, so anglers currently must abide by two sets of laws. 

The potential for error for even the most conscientious angler is extremely high.  For example, an angler with a legal fish in Louisiana can simply drift over the state line into Texas waters and be in violation of their regulations.  Unfortunately, many anglers have been cited because of the unnecessary confusion. 

The proposed compromise regulations for Toledo Bend affect channel, blue and flathead catfish and black and white crappie. Proposed regulations for Caddo Lake and the Sabine River deal with those species in addition to white, yellow, largemouth and spotted bass.

The new regulations can be found on LDWF’s website at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/regulations and on Texas Parks and Wildlife’s website at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/regulations/changes12.phtml.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For press inquiries, contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov (225) 765-5113 or Steve Lightfoot at steve.lightfoot@tpwd.state.tx.us or (512) 389-4701.

 

Final Qualifying Louisiana Saltwater Series Tournament Scheduled This Weekend

Release Date: 08/17/2011

 

Aug. 18, 2011 –The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) anticipates a crowd at its final qualifying Louisiana Saltwater Series Redfish Tournament this weekend at Moran’s Marina in Port Fourchon, La. on August 20, 2011.  The series is dedicated to catch-and-release saltwater angling through a series of agency-sponsored fishing tournaments.

The series was developed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in conjunction with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation to promote conservation of Louisiana’s saltwater sport fish resources and targets one of Louisiana’s most valuable sport fish, redfish.  

The grassroots-based tournament provides anglers with the opportunity to give back to the resource.  Contestants vie for cash prizes and test their skill while enjoying the thrill of the competitive sport. 

Each series includes two-man teams with a $200 entry fee for each event. For teams consisting of three members, only two of the members may be 16 or older.  The tournament is a 100 percent payout series.

This year, a youth division was established to introduce young anglers to the sport of fishing, and to teach the catch-and-release approach to conservation. Participants under 16 years of age will compete against one another in a separate category for trophy catch; all youth anglers will be recognized. 

The 2011 series is comprised of six fishing events and a championship. Tournament locations are scheduled across the coast.  The tournament will close with its Championship on October 7 and 8 at The Delta Marina in Empire, La.

Online registration for the tournament will close on Thursday, August 18 at noon, but those interested in participating can register at Moran’s Marina from 4:30 to 5:30 a.m., the morning of the event.  Only cash or checks will be accepted for payment of registration fees the morning of the event.

For complete information, including rules, regulations and entry forms go to www.lasaltwaterseries.com

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov (225) 765-5113.

Agencies Continue Investigation of Fish Kill in Pearl River

Release Date: 08/17/2011

August 17, 2011 – State, local and federal agencies continue to respond to a fish kill in the Pearl River that originated near Bogalusa in Washington Parish. This fish kill was reported on Saturday and the slug of black water believed to have caused or contributed to the fish kills has moved south through St. Tammany Parish.

In response to the event, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has deployed its Mobile Command Unit to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Pearl River Wildlife Management Area to serve as unified command area to support local emergency management and other state agencies in this response effort.  GOHSEP has also activated its Crisis Action Team. LDWF and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) continue to monitor the water in Pearl River. Water sampling results for dissolved oxygen and pH show the river is returning to normal water quality.

Officials from DEQ worked with its counterparts in Mississippi to have the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District increase the discharge from the Ross Barnett Reservoir to increase the flow in the Pearl River, according to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The increased flow in the river will increase the amount of fresh water in the river and help increase the low oxygen currently in the river.

LDWF fisheries biologists continue to survey the Pearl River, beginning in Pools Bluff Sill south to the Rigolets. On Tuesday, August 16, LDWF staff surveyed 36 miles of the West Pearl River from Holmes Bayou to the Rigolets.

The total number of dead fish and mussels is still being compiled; information from each day’s surveillance will be assembled for a total count at the end of the event. The final total estimates will include those from DEQ and Mississippi DEQ. To date, 24 species of fish have been identified as part of the fish kill, including paddlefish, American eels, catfish, bass, bluegill and shad. Two species of freshwater mussels have also been identified in the fish kill.

Also included in the kill are Gulf sturgeon -- a species listed as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. As of August 16, 19 Gulf sturgeon were collected by LDWF. Specimens are being handed over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of their investigation. LDWF fisheries biologists and enforcement agents are assisting USFWS in the investigation. 

The Department of Health and Hospitals recommends the following precautions, if you encounter or come into contact with (are exposed to) a fish kill:

• Stay out of the affected waters – If you were exposed to these waters, then bathe well with soap and water. Use antiseptics on any open cut or wound.
• Do not eat, handle, or collect any fish or shellfish from the affected waters.
• Do not let pets wade or swim in, drink, or eat fish from the affected waters.
• Seek medical advice if you experience illness that may be related to exposures to a fish kill, such as skin irritation or infection, upset stomach, sore throat, or breathing difficulty. 

The investigation into the cause of the fish kill continues.

The agencies involved have put together the following list of frequently asked questions to assist local officials and the public:


Pearl River
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. Where do we call with complaints/information?
A.   The DEQ hotline number is 225-342-1234 or 1-888-763-5424. The DEQ Regional Office number is 504-736-7701.  The LDWF 24-hour hotline for reporting further fish kill impacts is 1-800-442-2511. If someone has questions about coming into contact with “black water,” the number for the Louisiana Poison Center, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is 1-800-222-1222. Media inquiries should go to 225-219-3964 or 225-329-9743.

Q. Is my drinking water safe?
A. Yes. No public water systems take water from the Pearl River, so there is no risk to drinking water from community water systems. Additionally, out of an abundance of caution, DHH sampled three public water systems along the Pearl River for volatile organic contaminants (VOCs) to confirm that the ground water supply was not impacted by the discharge incident. The samples showed no increase in VOCs and no VOCs above contaminant levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Q. What about private well water?
A. Private wells should be constructed in a way that does not take water from the river, so they should not be impacted. Additional testing of public water systems shows no VOCs above the level of concern in groundwater. People who are concerned should have their wells tested and/or treated.

Q.  Are there any human health risks from the substance that was discharged into the river?
A.  Fish kills occur for several reasons. The most common cause of death in a fish kill is a sudden shortage or absence of oxygen in the water. This does not pose a major human health risk. If a hazardous substance is involved, more caution will be required. Testing is currently underway by public safety officials. In the meantime, DHH recommends the following precautions, if you encounter or come in contact with (are exposed to) a fish kill:

• Stay out of the affected waters – If you went into these waters, then bathe well with soap and water. Use antiseptics on any open cut or wound.
• Do not eat, handle, or collect any fish or shellfish from the affected waters.
• Do not let pets wade or swim in, drink, or eat fish from the affected waters.
• Seek medical advice if you experience illness that may be related to contact with the water or dead fish and might include skin irritation or infection, GI upset, sore throat, or breathing difficulty. 

Q. Are any waterways closed as a result of this incident?
A. No. The Pearl River is a federally designated waterway; only the U.S. Coast Guard may issue a closure for this river and it has not done so at this time.

Q. What is the “Black Water” that is referred to in this incident?
A. We believe that the black water originated from an upset condition in the wastewater treatment system at the Temple Inland facility in Bogalusa.  However, we are in the middle of investigating the existing facts of the matter and are awaiting the results of analytical tests.  This material is what is commonly known in the paper industry as black liquor.  This material has a very high level of organic material that quickly reduces the available dissolved oxygen in the water.  Fish and other aquatic life actually suffocate when trapped in this water. 

Q. Who is responsible for this incident?
A. An investigation is ongoing by Louisiana, Mississippi and Federal officials to determine the cause or causes that lead to the fish kill. Again, we believe that the black water originated from an upset condition in the wastewater treatment system at the Temple Inland facility in Bogalusa.  However, the investigation continues as agencies continue to gather data.

Q. When the responsible party is found what happens to them?
A. The various agencies involved will each take the appropriate enforcement action based on the facts each uncovered during the investigation

Q. What are the terms DO and pH?
A. DO stands for dissolved oxygen.  It is a key factor in a healthy ecosystem and sufficient dissolved oxygen is necessary for fish to ‘breathe’. While the level of DO varies widely depending on the water body, a level of 5-7 parts per million would be normally expected in the upper reaches of the Pearl River. Additionally, pH is a chemical description for the acid/base condition of water.  It is based on a 0-14 scale with 6-8 considered generally to be normal.

Q. When will the river be back to normal?
A. The facility has been shut down since Saturday.  As such, there is no flow of effluent from the facility.  The material has flowed down the river to the Rigolets.  Subsequently, the water at the source of the discharge has already recovered.  DEQ has specialized personnel that will be on scene tomorrow that will examine the hydrology (movement, distribution, and quality of water) of the river.  After that examination we may better be able to determine when the water quality of the river will be back to normal. Water monitoring in the river shows the DO and pH levels are getting back to normal.

Q. Who is going to clean up the dead fish?
A. Temple Inland is hiring contractors and local fishermen to clean up the floating dead fish.  Citizens should leave the clean up to the contractors since federal and state law requires certain information be collected in these types and numbers of fish collected in these incidents. The estimated cleanup time if four to five days, but no timeframe is set because of the number of fish to be recovered may increase.

Q. Where will the dead fish go?
A. The fish will be disposed in a manner that meets local state, and federal laws.

Q. What kinds of fish are included in the fish kill?
A. As of now, LDWF biologists have identified 24 different species of fish in the fish kill. Some of those species are the paddlefish, the American eel, catfish, bluegill, bass and shad. Two species of freshwater mussels were also impacted by the fish kill.

Q. Were Gulf sturgeon, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, impacted by the fish kill?
A. Yes, 19 Gulf sturgeon (as of August 16) have been collected by LDWF officials and are in the custody of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for further investigation.

Q. Is the responsible party going to be shut down?
A. The facility suspected of the source of the discharge is currently not in operation.  They will not resume operations until we have assurance that they can do so safely.  Also, agencies are working with the company to assure that preventative measures are taken to prevent recurrence. 

Q. When did the fish start dying?
A. The investigation of the exact chain of events is still ongoing.  We were notified of the incident on Saturday, and the fish appeared at that time to have been dead for several days.

Q. How far did the pollution spread?
A. The investigation is ongoing; however DEQ believes the main mass of “Black Water” travelled down the West Pearl to the Rigolets.

 

For more information, contact Rodney Mallett at (225) 219-3964

Agencies Investigating Fish Kill in Pearl River

Release Date: 08/15/2011

August 15, 2011 – Fisheries biologists with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) received a report of a large fish kill in the Pearl River near Bogalusa on Saturday afternoon, August 13, 2011. Biologists immediately coordinated with emergency responders from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and began surveys and testing of water conditions in the affected areas.
 
LDWF personnel tested the water for potential causes of the fish kill, including pH and levels of dissolved oxygen -- some common factors in fish kills. Biologists surveyed 45 miles of the river from Richardson Landing to the entrance of the West Pearl River Navigation Canal. DEQ also sent an emergency responder and a water quality specialist to investigate the fish kill.
 
Several thousand aquatic species were observed dead or dying along the river, including surface, middle and bottom dwellers. Of the fish species included in the fish kill were Paddlefish, American eels, catfish, bass, bluegill and shad.
 
DEQ has taken samples of the river water. Those samples have been sent to a lab for analysis and should be back within four to five days. The agencies involved advise the public to be aware of and avoid foam on the river or any water that is discolored.  DEQ continues to investigate the cause of the fish kill.

Working together, DEQ, LDWF, the Department of Health and Hospitals, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, as well as local and federal responders, determined that a slug of partially treated or untreated wastewater reached the river and may have caused or contributed to the fish kill.
 
According to DHH, there is no impact on drinking water from community water systems, none of which draw water from the river. DHH advises that people should not come in contact with discolored water in the Pearl River and never collect dead or floating fish to eat.
 
Crews with LDWF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and DEQ continue to survey the river today, Monday, August 15..
 
On the Mississippi side, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality surveyed the river from Pools Bluff Sill to Walkai Bluff.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us atwww.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb  or follow us on Twitter@LDWF.

For more information, please contact Olivia Watkins at owatkins@wlf.la.gov or 225-610-8660.
 

White Lake Property Advisory Board to Meet Aug. 10 in Baton Rouge

Release Date: 08/09/2011

The next regular Advisory Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries headquarters located at 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70808      

The following items will be discussed:

1.      Roll Call

2.      Approval of Minutes of March 24, 2011 Meeting

3.      Department Financial Report

4.      Update on White Lake Leases

5.      Proposal for new biologist & technician staff

6.      Update on whooping cranes project

7.      Update on Intracoastal Canal/DU NAWCA project

8.      Update on birding trail & 700 ac impoundment

9.      Upcoming hunting season plan/changes

10.   Other Business

11.   Public Comment

12.   Adjournment

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