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Three Men Cited For Oyster Violations In Plaquemines Parish

Release Date: 05/20/2015

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited three men for alleged oyster violations in the Empire area of Plaquemines Parish on May 19.

Agents cited Diego Gonzalez, 21, of Bacliff, Texas, Jose Bocanegra, 45, of St. Bernard, and Khal Kim, 23, of Empire, for harvesting oysters from vessels in violation of the state’s oyster harvesting health code.

Agents found Gonzalez harvesting oysters from a vessel without the required tarp to protect oysters from sun and other adverse conditions.  Agents then found Bocanegra harvesting oysters from a vessel that was not following refrigeration requirements for oysters intended for raw consumption.  Finally Kim was caught harvesting oysters without the required Department of Health and Hospitals logbook.

Failing to follow refrigeration requirements for oysters brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Harvesting oysters without the required logbook and tarp in adverse conditions each carries a $25 fine and up to 10 days in jail for each offense.

Agents seized a total of 161 sacks of oysters and returned them to the water.

Agents participating in case are Sgt. Adam Young, and Agents Travis Bartlett, and Blaine Wagner.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Five Subjects Cited For Illegal Oyster Harvest in Sister Lake

Release Date: 05/19/2015

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited five subjects for alleged oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish on May 7.

Agents cited Brent M. Leboeuf, 23; Amberlly C. Leboeuf, 28; and Armando Brunet, 28, all from Houma, Jose Duron, 20, and Tito Bermudez, 22, both from New Orleans, for taking oysters during a closed season.

While on patrol agents observed an oyster vessel enter Sister Lake near dusk.  Due to the numerous complaints of illegal activity on Sister Lake, agents set up surveillance and observed the vessel being used to harvest oysters on the closed seed ground.  The Sister Lake public grounds did not open for the 2014-2015 oyster season.

Agents returned 20 sacks of oysters to the water and seized two dredges and the vessel.

Taking oysters during a closed season brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.  Any person convicted of this violation may only harvest oysters from a vessel that employs a vessel monitoring system monitored by LDWF for a period of one year.

Agents participating in the case are Sgts. Bryan Marie and Richard Purvis.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Three Men Convicted for Oyster Violations in Terrebonne Parish

Release Date: 05/19/2015

Three Houma men were found guilty of oyster violations in Terrebonne Parish Division E Court on May 18.

Judge Randy Bethancourt sentenced Samuel Dobson, 35, the captain of the oyster vessel, to pay $1,654.50 in fines, to forfeit his commercial fishing license for 10 years, 120 hours of community service in a litter abatement program and one year of supervised probation.  Judge Bethancourt ordered John Parker III, 25, to pay a $2,629.50 fine and Dylan Parker, 21, to pay a $2,679.50 fine.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested the men for oyster harvesting violations on Dec. 18 in Terrebonne Parish.  Agents arrested the men for taking oysters during a closed season on the Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservation, taking oysters from a polluted area, taking oysters during illegal hours, taking oysters without commercial gear and vessel licenses, and violating the sanitation code (log book).

On Dec. 18 around 8:30 p.m., LDWF agents were patrolling the Sister Lake Seed Reservation when they observed a vessel in the open water of Sister Lake dredging for oysters.  Agents stopped the vessel and found the three men in possession of two sacks of oysters.

Agents seized the vessel, two oyster dredges and returned the oysters to the water.  The men were booked into the Terrebonne Parish Jail.

The Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservation is closed for the 2014/15 season.

Agents participating in this care were Sgt. Thomas Dewitt, Sgt. Brian Marie, Senior Agent Jamie Folse, Agent Richard Bean and Agent Lucas Hidalgo.  Assistant District Attorney Chris Erny prosecuted the case.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

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Louisiana Safe Boating Week Set For May 16-22

Release Date: 05/14/2015

Media: To schedule a safe boating patrol ride along for a story, please contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

The state of Louisiana has issued a proclamation that recognizes May 16-22 as “Safe Boating Week” in Louisiana, which signifies the beginning of the spring and summer boating season.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will again be reminding all boaters to be safe, responsible and knowledgeable while on the water during this safe boating week.  Safe Boating Week is a time for all boaters to inspect their vessels to ensure that all required safety equipment is on board and that vessels are in good working condition.

LDWF Enforcement Division agents will be out in full force as always during the week to perform boating safety checks and driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated (DWI) patrols.

Each vessel should have enough personal flotation devices (PFD) on board for all occupants and a sober operator.  LDWF regulations also state that anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26 foot long.  For more boating and PFD regulations, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.

Alcohol use is another leading cause of boating crash incidents and fatalities on the water.  Alcohol consumption impairs a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.  The penalties for DWI on the water are the same as on the road.  Anyone cited for a DWI on the water or on the road will lose his or her driver's license and boating privileges for the specified time ordered by the judge in the case.

LDWF also wants to remind anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 that they are required to successfully complete a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower.  LDWF offers these classes free of charge statewide.  For a list of courses, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.

Studies have shown that states with a mandatory boating education program have fewer boating incidents that result in fatalities than states that have no boating education program.  States with a boating education program for more than 20 years had 3.67 fatalities per 100,000 registered boats, and states with no boating education program had 6.61 fatalities per 100,000 boats.

LDWF initiated the state's boating education program in 2003 and has certified over 75,000 boaters during that time.  Louisiana has lowered the number of fatalities per 100,000 registered boats from 12 in 2008 to 4.9 in 2013 and 5.9 in 2014.

In 2014 Louisiana reported 18 boating fatalities, which is the second lowest number ever recorded.  In 2013 Louisiana reported 15 fatalities, which was the record low for boating fatalities ever recorded.  So far in 2015 Louisiana has reported nine fatalities.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2465.

LDWF Agents Assist with Saving Three Year Old Boy’s Life

Release Date: 05/12/2015

Authorities saved a three year old boy from drowning in a swimming pool at a residence on the Amite River Diversion Canal in Livingston Parish on May 10.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents Lt. Louis Burnett and Senior Agent Michael Marques Jr. were on vessel patrol around 5 p.m. on the Diversion Canal when they were flagged down by a woman from a dock near her residence on Home Port Road.  The woman told them that a three year old boy was found face down in her pool a few minutes ago.

Senior Agent Marques Jr. raced to the pool about 25 yards from the dock and found the child lying on the ground next to the pool not breathing.  Marques Jr. put his hand on the child’s chest and felt the heart beating.  He then cleared the airway of the child by performing the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver.  The child then let out a gasp of air that prompted Marques Jr. to lay the child on his side to promote more breathing.

While Marques Jr. was performing first responder aid to the child, Lt. Burnett was radioing for paramedics to the scene and securing the vessel.

Marques Jr. and Lt. Burnett were able to keep the child breathing until some volunteers from the Fifth Ward Fire Department showed up with oxygen for the child.  The LDWF agents and Fire Department personnel were able to keep the child breathing on oxygen until Acadian Ambulance paramedics arrived shortly thereafter.  The child was then airlifted to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge.  The child was admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and is expected to make a full recovery.

“Everybody involved did a great job to keep this child alive,” said Col. Joey Broussard, head of the LDWF Enforcement Division.  “Senior Agent Marques’ efforts were heroic and the fact he acted so quickly probably saved the child’s life.”

All LDWF agents are trained and certified in first responder training which includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) every year.

According to an adult male, he turned his back on the child briefly while gathering some fishing poles.  When he was finished he then found the child face down in the swimming pool and immediately retrieved the boy’s body.  He then attempted CPR before Marques Jr. arrived on the scene.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Husband and Wife Sentenced for Fishing License Fraud

Release Date: 05/11/2015

A couple from New Orleans pleaded guilty in Orleans Parish District Court for recreational fishing license fraud on May 11.

Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier sentenced Derwin Hill, 60, and Diana Hill, 60, to each pay a $1,500 fine, two years of jail suspended and two years of probation.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested the couple on Feb. 27 for filing false public records for their roles in forging a recreational fishing license in order to falsely make a claim after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The LDWF Licensing Section notified agents of the Hill’s attempt to forge a recreational license.  During the investigation, agents learned that Diana allegedly forged a 2011-12 fishing license purchased by Derwin to reflect a 2010-11 recreational fishing license so that they could make a claim with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and Deepwater Horizon Settlement Program.

Agents were able to gather the Hill’s claim information from the National Center for Disaster Fraud.  Agents leaned that the Hill’s made two separate claims with the altered fishing license.  The claim with Gulf Coast Claims Facility was filed on Oct. 31, 2011 for lost earnings in the fishing industry.  Derwin stated the lost total earnings totaled $19,500 in the two claims.

Derwin also filed a subsistence claim with Deepwater Horizon Settlement Program on Oct 24, 2012 for not being able to fish due to the oil spill.

On Jan. 8, 2013, agents met with the Hill’s to interview them about the fraudulently altered fishing license and claim.  During the interview, Diana stated that she changed the dates on the fishing license.

The Hill’s did not receive any money from the claims due to the fraudulent nature of the fishing license used for the claim.

Agents participating in the case were Sgt. Edward Ridgel and Senior Agent Ronnie Engelhard.  Assistant District Attorney Jeff Hall prosecuted the case.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

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