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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.  

Hunters Preparing For Upcoming Season Advised of Problems Associated with Use of Tainted Corn for Feed

Release Date: 08/25/2011

Aug. 25, 2011-- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is advising anyone using corn to feed deer and turkeys that care should be taken to avoid tainted corn, especially corn with high aflatoxin levels. The best way to avoid tainted corn is to purchase packaged corn that has been tested and labeled aflatoxin free.

Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by a fungus that affects certain grain products, especially yellow corn, under conditions of high heat, drought, and high relative humidity. Consumption of aflatoxin by animals may cause liver disease, unthriftiness, abortion, poor reproduction, poor immune function and death.  The severity of disease is related to the dose of aflatoxin consumed and the time span over which it is consumed.

According to the LA Department of Agriculture, there are scattered areas of aflatoxin tainted corn in Louisiana this year.

Grains contaminated with aflatoxin in excess of levels allowed in animal feeds should not be fed to wildlife.  Due to the sensitivity of wild turkeys to aflatoxin, 20 ppb should be considered the maximum level for corn distributed in areas where turkeys are present.

Acute exposure to aflatoxin occurs when an animal ingests a large dose at high concentrations over a short period of time resulting in death. Birds such as wild turkeys, ducks and geese are more susceptible than mammals. However, chronic exposure is much more likely to occur with wildlife eating from a corn feeder.

The safest source of deer corn is retail stores selling corn certified as aflatoxin free.  Hunters seeking a cheap source of corn directly from the field may get a short-term bargain but a long-term loss of recreational opportunity if wildlife is exposed to corn contaminated with high levels of aflatoxin.

Hunters are reminded that conditions causing high aflatoxin levels in cornfields occur only rarely under a narrow set of conditions.  The most frequent source of aflatoxin is good corn that has been mishandled.  Clean corn that is transported or stored at high temperatures and high humidity can produce aflatoxin within 24 hours and biologically significant amounts in a few days.  Year in and year out, hunters should be vigilant about the proper transportation, storage, and feeding of corn to avoid the detrimental impacts of aflatoxicosis on all forms of wildlife.

                                                LDWF RECOMMENDATIONS

1.       Just say no to corn feeding.  This is the only way to be absolutely certain that aflatoxin and other mortality factors (predators) associated with supplemental feeding will be eliminated.

2.       Maintain a healthy well-balanced deer herdby proper application of either-sex harvest. Research on livestock indicates that stress-free well-fed animals are not as susceptible to aflatoxin related disorders as under-nourished animals with additional stress factors (parasites, etc.).

3.       Use only certified cornthat is below 20-ppb aflatoxin.

4.       Do not expose corn to rainfallduring transportation and store it in water, insect and rodent resistant containers placed in a cool location. Wildlife resources should be treated like prize livestock and fed only the best quality corn.

5.       Use feeders that protect corn from the weather and dispense small quantities.  Frequent filling of feeders with small hoppers will keep corn fresh.  Do not use wet or moldy corn. 

6.       Frequently move feedersto reduce the risk of wildlife exposure to secondary diseases and parasites that can contaminate the soil in an area of frequent use.

7.       Terminate your feeding program by February 15th each year.  

8.       Thoroughly clean storage containers and feeders annually.  Remove dirt, old corn and debris and wash with bleach and water at the end of the season.

For more information, contact Dr. Jim LaCour at 225-765-0823 or jlacour@wlf.la.gov .

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.

 

application/pdf icon The Relation of Cattle and Cattle Grazing to Marsh Wildlife and Plants in Louisiana

LDWF Agents Cite Mississippi Man For Shrimping During Closed Season

Release Date: 08/25/2011

 

August 25, 2011-Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited a Mississippi man for allegedly shrimping during a closed season in St. Bernard Parish on Aug. 19.

Agents cited Dac Quoc Nguyen, of Bay St. Louis, Miss., for using skimmers during a closed shrimp season.

Agents were responding to complaints of illegal shrimping in St Bernard Parish's North marsh.  Agents were in the area of the complaints and observed the vessel occupied by Nguyen engaging in skimming operations in Elephant Pass.  Agents issued Nguyen a citation and seized 280 pounds of 16-20 count white shrimp.

Using skimmers in a closed season brings up to a $950 fine, up to 120 days in jail, or both plus courts costs.

In addition to any other penalties, the court may revoke or suspend the violator's trawl, skimmer and butterfly gear licenses for one year from the date of the conviction.  During such revocation or suspension, the violator may be present on a vessel harvesting or possessing shrimp or possessing a trawl, skimmer or butterfly net, only if the vessel is equipped with and employs an operating vessel monitoring system which is accessible by LDWF.

Agents participating in the cases were Sgt. Kris Bourgeois, Senior Agents Austin Arteaga and Brett Nabors.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Fishermen Cited In Federal Waters

Release Date: 08/25/2011

 

August 25, 2011-Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited four men on Aug. 15 and two men on Aug. 16 for alleged fisheries violations in federal waters.

On Aug. 15, agents cited Larry Minor III, 23, of Fairhope, Ala., Jeffery Copeland, 42, of Mobile, Ala., Wayne Guidry, 34, of Marrero, and Jason Chauvin, 41, of Baton Rouge, for failing to have saltwater finfish intact and possessing red snapper during a closed season.

On Aug. 16, agents cited Richard Britton, 48, of Pickens, S.C., and Brian Loupe, 30, of Morgan City for possessing red snapper during a closed season.

Agents seized 153 red snapper, shark and blue fish filets on the Aug. 15 case and for the Aug. 16 case seized 70 red snapper filets and a 17-inch red snapper.

Agents participating in the cases were Sgts. Travis Huval and Brian Theriot, Senior Agents Donnie Bozeman and David Boudreaux, and Agent Brandon Fontenot.

The penalties for taking red snapper during a closed season are fines between $100 and $350, or up to 60 days in jail, or both plus court costs.  Failing to have saltwater finfish intact are fines between $250 and $500, or up to 90 days in jail, or both plus court costs.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at aeinck@wlf.la.gov.

Agenda for September Commission Meeting

Release Date: 08/24/2011

The next regular Commission Meeting will be held at 9:30 AM on Thursday, September 1, 2011, in the Louisiana Room at the Wildlife and Fisheries Building, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA.

 

The following items will be discussed:

 

 1.         Roll Call

 

 2.         Approval of Minutes of August 4, 2011 and August 17, 2011

 

3.         Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege

 

4.         To hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/August

 

5.         Public comments on amended Notice of Intent on the Calcasieu Lake Oyster Harvester   Permit

 

6.         To receive and consider Notice of Intent on 2012 Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program

 

7.         To receive and consider Declaration of Emergency for 2011-2012 Oyster Season on Public Oyster Areas

 

8.         Pre-Moratorium Pending Oyster Lease Application Status

 

9.         Set January 2012 Meeting Date

 

10.       Receive Public Comments

 

11.        Adjournment

WEEKLY eNEWS: Workshops and Your Feedback Needed

LEEC's Weekly eNews: A Compilation of Environmental Education News from Across Louisiana

WORKSHOPS

2011 From H-2-O Water Quality Workshop for Teachers (Deadline: September 19)
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) is announcing the 2011 From H-2-O Water Quality Workshop for Teachers. From H-2-O is a dynamic teacher training workshop for LUMCON’s Bayouside Classroom Program. The Bayouside Classroom program is designed to use water quality monitoring to connect students to the rich and unique environments within the Mississippi River drainage basin and the Gulf of Mexico. This year special emphasis will be placed on the impacts of last spring’s Mississippi River flooding and the formation of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone.
        Workshop Specifics:
        Cost:  None.  The workshop is fully funded by the Barataria – Terrebonne National Estuary Program.
        Where:  DeFelice Marine Center in Cocodrie, LA
        When:  October 7-9, 2011:  Application Deadline: September 19, 2011
        Eligibility: Open to all Louisiana middle school and high school teachers
        Highlights: Research cruise aboard the R/V Acadiana,Free water monitoring equipment kit valued at ~$400, Networking opportunities with scientists, informal educators, and other teachers, laboratory activities, CLUs provided
For more information about the workshop or how to apply please contact Murt Conover, Marine Education Associate, (985) 851-2860, mconover@lumcon.edu

Audubon Zoo Fall 2011 Teacher Workshop Schedule
Please see PDF below for workshop details and registration. Workshops run September 17-December 3. For more information, contact: 504-212-5378 or zooschool@auduboninstitute.org.

LATECH College of Education Parental Involvement Course and Free Resources Course
Scholarships are currently available for a multitude of courses being offered through the College of Education’s Office of Professional Education and Outreach. Two of the many courses being offered include a course addressing parental involvement and a course identifying sources of free classroom resources and materials to meet student needs .Flyers for each are attached. Both courses will be delivered electronically, and students completing the courses will receive a certificate for 45 clus and 3 hours of course credit from the Louisiana Tech University College of Education. If you need any additional information about these courses or others, please give us a call or visit: http://www.latech.edu/education/opeo/

 

YOUR FEEDBACK

Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan – What’s Important to YOU?
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is currently developing Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan which will recommend specific actions for restoring our coastal wetlands and protecting our coastal communities. With limited funding and time, we know we can’t restore and protect the entire coast, so we need your input on what is most important to you.
We have developed a community exercise and online survey to help us understand your preferences. Individual preferences can vary greatly – preferences about what is important for a specific community, and preferences for what is important for the entire coast of Louisiana. This online survey allows you to identify what you feel is most critical to the coastal restoration and protection efforts and will be used to inform what is represented in Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan. Please click here to participate in a survey and pass this link on to your friends, family and co-workers so they can provide their input. This survey will take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous. One survey per person please. If you provided your preferences at one of the community meetings, please do not fill out this online survey as your preferences have already been documented. This survey will be available until September 16, 2011. To find out more about Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan, please visit our website at www.coastalmasterplan.la.gov or attend a community meeting. Click here for a schedule of upcoming meetings.

 

Visit the Louisiana Unified Coastal Community Calendar at http://lacoast.gov/calendar/
The goal of LUCC is to drive Web users to one location to find out about all wetland outreach activities including symposiums, conferences, meetings, educational opportunities, volunteer opportunities and the related support materials. This is an interactive Web based calendar that all wetland related national and state agencies and approved NGOs can post information to. The Web calendar will also provide local governments and other organizations to work with these agencies to post wetland activities. LUCC was the vision of the Louisiana Sea Grant. LUCC is hosted on the LaCoast.gov Web site. Currently the LaCoast.gov site gets 1,000,000 hits per month, the goal is to provide users with a “one-stop” location for Louisiana’s wetland activities.


Venise Ortego, Environmental Education Coordinator, 337-948-0255, vortego@wlf.la.gov
Juliet Raffray, Environmental Education Assistant Coordinator, 225-765-0124, jraffray@wlf.la.gov
Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries – www.wlf.louisiana.gov/eec
 

Thursday April 21, 2011

Meeting: 
Shrimp Task Force Meeting
Date: 
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Agenda: 
Minutes: 

Shrimp Task Force Meeting Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meeting: 
Shrimp Task Force Meeting
Date: 
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Agenda: 
Minutes: 
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