commercial fishing

State Reinvests $13 Million with Commercial Fishermen

Release Date: 04/04/2011

April 4, 2011 – This month the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), in coordination with the Office of Community Development – Disaster Recovery Unit (OCD), and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), issued award letters to nearly 1,000 fishermen who were deemed eligible for the Commercial Fisherman Grant Program.  Throughout the month the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry through the Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority (LAFA) has been on-site at several locations along the coast conducting grant closings and disbursing funds to eligible fishermen.

“The industry has worked incredibly hard to recover from numerous disasters over the last six years, including hurricanes Gustav and Ike,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  “We are excited to match some of the hard work that the commercial fishing industry has put into bouncing back by issuing grants that help mitigate some of their losses. The full recovery of our coastal communities is tied to the fate of our commercial fishing industry. This is another step towards helping those residents, businesses and communities become whole again.”

“The funds for this program were part of the $27 million the state allocated to Fisheries recovery from the Community Development Block Grants we received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after hurricanes Gustav and Ike,” said Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater. “From the beginning, we have been committed to helping our fishermen, and this important part of Louisiana’s economy, recover from the effects of the 2008 storms. I’m pleased that this coordinated effort with LDWF and LDAF will bring these much-needed funds to commercial fishermen.”

The Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority processed more than 1,250 applications and awarded the money based on losses suffered by the 2008 hurricanes.

“This is a continuation of LAFA’s mission to promote rural economic development,” Strain said. “It’s vital to our economy for our food producers to be profitable. We’re glad to be a part of that.”

The $13 million Commercial Fisherman Grant Program was designed to assist Louisiana fishermen who held a commercial fishing license in 2008 and who remain licensed, continue to recover from the effects of hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008.  Individuals were required to provide supporting tax documentation and be able to prove a $5,000 tangible or financial loss in order to qualify for the program.  Applicants were eligible for a grant up to the amount of their loss, not to exceed $100,000. Of the nearly $13 million dollars being disbursed, 95 percent was allocated solely to certified fishermen.

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.
The Disaster Recovery Unit within the Office of Community Development is dedicated to helping Louisiana's citizens recover from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. As the state's central point for hurricane recovery, the OCD-DRU manages the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history, working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.

For more information from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, please contact Laura Deslatte at ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov  or at (225)610-2363.  For more information from the Office of Community Development, please contact Christina Stephens at (225) 603-3896 or christina.stephens@la.gov.  For more information from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, please contact Sam Irwin at (225) 922-1256 or sirwin@ldaf.state.la.us.

New Oyster Farming Technique Increases Productivity, Offers Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Release Date: 11/17/2010

A new oyster farming initiative has launched in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The goal of this effort, a collaboration between researchers from Louisiana State University and Auburn University, is industry adoption of off-bottom oyster culture to supplement the traditional harvest. Historically, oysters are grown on and harvested from reefs on the water bottom. In this new process, oysters are grown suspended in the water column.

Benefits of this new oyster farming technique include increased productivity; job creation; and continued production of a safe, sustainable domestic oyster supply, according to John Supan, Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter oyster specialist, and Bill Walton, Auburn University aquaculture and fisheries specialist. Off-bottom culture also protects oysters from predators, provides a means to reduce fouling, and allows complete harvests of planted oyster seed, a major advantage over traditional oyster harvesting.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is also working with researchers at Louisiana Sea Grant to support the off-bottom culture efforts. LDWF’s Fisheries Research Laboratory in Grand Isle, La., provides research and hatchery space to researchers from the Louisiana Sea Grant program. Department officials are also working local officials in Plaquemines Parish to develop plans for a facility, which would provide space for oyster spat, oysters in the larval stage, to develop before they are utilized by industry.

“This could be an important addition to a traditional coastal industry,” said Walton. “It’s clean, green and energy efficient. And, it provides business opportunities to those already in the oyster industry as well as other coastal residents.”

“Through proper planning, off-bottom culture can work in harmony with other water uses and users,” added Supan. “It can support both part- and full-time incomes, just like natural fisheries, but with greater control over the natural variability that dominates bottom harvesting.”

“Louisiana’s oyster fishery has been hit with major natural and man-made disasters in the last five years, and has grown wiser for it,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “We are thrilled that Louisiana Sea Grant and researchers at Auburn University have worked so diligently to develop new methods for safeguarding and developing our oyster reefs along the coast. Our Department is going to work side-by-side with the industry and researchers to help ensure the success of our oyster fishery.”

Although this program was developed prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the oil spill prompted increased interest in oyster farming.

“We have received more calls and questions about oyster farming in the last four months than we have combined over the prior 12 months,” said Walton. “The spill has created a window of opportunity where traditional oystermen are eager, even desperate, to find ways to get back to working on the water as soon as possible.”

“Catastrophe causes change,” added Supan. “The challenge is to direct change to improve conditions, not to settle for status quo. This project will attempt do just that.”

Both the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory on Dauphin Island, Ala., and the Sea Grant Bivalve Hatchery at the LDWF Marine Fisheries Research Laboratory on Grand Isle, La., will provide oyster seed for this tri-state project. Program funding is provided by the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.

A series of workshops are planned during 2011 and 2012, addressing issues such as appropriate culture systems, oyster seed stock, growing market-quality oysters, and developing practices and regulations in collaboration with state agencies. For more information, contact Supan at jsupan@lsu.edu or Walton at billwalton@auburn.edu.

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 LSU, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 32 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.

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 more information, please contact Roy Kron at Louisiana Sea Grant at (225) 578-6564 or rkron@lsu.edu or Olivia Watkins at LDWF at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov

2010-312

L.D.W.F. to Close Greater Amberjack Commercial Fishery at 12:01 a.m., October 28

Release Date: 10/27/2010

NOAA predicts quota will be met; fishery will reopen January 1, 2011.

Baton Rouge (October 27, 2010) - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will close the greater amberjack commercial fishery in state waters at 12:01 a.m., October 28. LDWF Secretary Robert Barham signed the closure, which coincides with the federal closure issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA predicts that the 2010 commercial quota will be met by October 28, and, as a result, has requested that the state match the closure in federal waters.

After the closure, all commercial harvest, possession, purchase, barter, trade, sale or attempt to purchase, barter, trade or sell greater amberjack is prohibited until 12:01 a.m., January 1, 2011, the date set for the opening of the 2011 season. The prohibition on the sale or purchase of greater amberjack during the closure does not apply to those that were harvested, landed ashore and sold prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor provided appropriate records in accordance with R.S. 56:306.5 and 56:306.6 are properly maintained.

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/pages/Baton-Rouge-LA/Louisiana-Department-of-Wildlife-a... or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

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

2010-296
 

Commission Modifies Rules on Commercial Harvest of Spotted Seatrout

Release Date: 09/02/2010

 

Today, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission modified the existing rules for the commercial harvest of spotted seatrout to extend the harvest season. This action was taken in an effort to remain consistent with legislation passed in the 2010 Regular Louisiana Legislative Session, which modified the season for the commercial harvest of spotted seatrout using a commercial rod and reel.  

The new rule states that the commercial season for the harvest of spotted seatrout shall remain open from the second day of January until the maximum annual quota, currently set at 1 million pounds, is reached, or on the date projected by the staff of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that the quota will be reached, or until sunset on Friday, December 31 of each year, whichever comes first.  Over the last decade, spotted seatrout harvest averaged just under 20,000 pounds annually.

With today’s action, the commercial harvest of spotted sea trout is prohibited within Louisiana waters west of the Mermentau River.

Public comments on the Notice of Intent will be accepted prior to November 5, 2010.  Comments should be submitted to Harry Blanchet, Fisheries Division, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA  70898-9000 , or via e-mail to:  hblanchet@wlf.la.gov.

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

2010-259

L.D.W.F. Announces Fall Shrimp Season

Release Date: 08/05/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced the fall inshore shrimp season will open in Shrimp Management Zones 1, 2 and 3 at 6 AM, Monday, August 16.  Season dates were approved today by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, following public comment and recommendations presented by Office of Fisheries biologists.

The closing date was also set by the commission for these waters at sunset December 21, 2010 except for the open waters of Breton and Chandeleur Sounds as described by the double-rig line (LA R.S.56:495.1(A)2) which will remain open to shrimping until 6 AM March 31, 2011.

Zone 1 includes Louisiana waters from the Mississippi border to the eastern shore of South Pass of the Mississippi River.  Zone 2 extends from to the eastern shore of South Pass of the Mississippi River to the western shore of Vermilion Bay and Southwest Pass at Marsh Island and Zone 3 extends from the western shore of Vermilion Bay and Southwest Pass at Marsh Island to the Texas border.

Due to the ongoing effects associated the Deepwater Horizon incident, certain delineated areas within the Pontchartrain, Barataria and Terrebonne Basins will remain closed to all commercial fishing, including shrimp harvesting, until further notice.

Louisiana is the number one domestic producer of shrimp with 2009 landings totaling over 100 million pounds, with a dockside value of $118 million.

For more information, contact Laura Deslatte at ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov or 225.765.2335

2010-235

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Announces Opening of Seatrout Season

Release Date: 08/05/2010

Today the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission announced the commercial season for the harvest of spotted seatrout will open on August 15, 2010.  This fishery is set to remain open until the maximum annual quota is reached, or on the date projected by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that the quota will be reached, or until sunset on Friday December 31, 2010, whichever comes first.

Act 979 of the 2010 Louisiana Regular Legislative Session modified the season for the commercial harvest of spotted seatrout using a commercial rod and reel.

Also included in Act 979, and effective with the implementation of that act and these rules, the commercial taking or commercial harvesting of spotted sea trout shall be prohibited within Louisiana waters west of the Mermentau River.

For more information, contact Laura Deslatte at ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov or 225.765.2335

2010-236

Chauvin Man Arrested by LDWF Agents for Falsifying Trip Tickets

Release Date: 08/05/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) arrested a Chauvin man today, Aug. 5 for allegedly falsifying trip ticket information and are transporting him to the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail.
Jessie Lambas, 58, allegedly falsified trip ticket documents dated from May and June of 2009 in order to file a claim with BP America due to the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Lambas was charged with three felonies for filing false public records, injuring public records and theft by fraud.  The trip tickets were filed with LDWF on May 27 and represented 5,644 pounds of shrimp with a value of $10,237.50.  Lambas stated that he received three payments from BP America totaling $3,000 from May 24 to July 14.
SIU agents met with Lambas on July 26 and 31 after receiving a complaint from the department's trip ticket section that Lambas did not possess a commercial fishing license in 2009.  Lambas does have a wholesale/retail seafood dealer’s license that allows him access to trip tickets issued to the wholesale/retail seafood dealer.
Lambas stated that he filed trip tickets from 2010, but the department does not have any record of issuing Lambas trip tickets in 2010 according to the arrest warrant.  The warrant also states that the trip tickets under question match the 50 trip tickets that he was issued in 2008.
If convicted, Lambas faces fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail with or without hard labor for each charge of falsifying and injuring public records.  For the fraud charge, Lambas faces a fine up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in jail with or without hard labor.
"We want to ensure our commercial fishermen and dealers are compensated fairly by using accurate trip ticket information," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of LDWF's Enforcement Division.  "We do not want to see commercial fishermen or dealers tempted to commit felony violations by falsifying trip ticket documents."
LDWF routinely reviews every trip ticket received from the commercial fishing industry to ensure that the most accurate data are collected and properly reflect the important role the state of Louisiana plays in the production of seafood.
These reviews are critical to ensure that commercial fishermen and wholesale/retail dealers are appropriately credited with landings in the event of compensation that results from a natural disaster such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and the current BP America oil spill.
BP America is requesting commercial fishermen to provide landings information from 2007-10 to determine eligibility for financial assistance.  LDWF is providing a landings data report back to commercial fishermen, when requested, to assist with this eligibility process.
The review of trip tickets has become even more critical during this time period considering that the previous years are being used to establish eligibility for assistance.  Any trip tickets from previous years are being subjected to another layer of review by LDWF staff to confirm their validity.
"The information provided on a trip ticket is the best way for the department to establish the value of Louisiana fisheries and the importance of those fisheries to the nation.  Trip ticket data also plays a key role in the managing of fisheries in Louisiana to ensure sustainability," said Michelle Kasprzak, LDWF Trip Ticket Program administrator.  "We ask that trip tickets be completed accurately and submitted on time as required.  Inaccurate or embellished trip tickets will be investigated by the department's Law Enforcement Division."
Trip tickets are filled out at the first point of sale between a commercial fisherman and wholesale/retail dealer or fresh product license holder and are due on the 10th of every month.  Trip tickets are then entered into LDWFs Trip Ticket Program's database.
Commercial fishermen and wholesale/retail dealers may request their trip ticket landings by following the instructions on the LDWF Web site at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/oilspill or calling the trip ticket section at 225-765-2399.
 For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov.
2010-238

L.D.W.F. Agents Arrest Two Men for Falsifying Trip Ticket Documents

Release Date: 08/04/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) arrested two New Iberia men on Aug. 3 for allegedly falsifying trip ticket information and booked them into the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail.

An Ly, 36, owner of Ly Ly Seafood, and Samith Huynh, 31, allegedly falsified trip ticket documents from January through April of this year in order to file a claim with BP America due to the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Ly and Huynh were charged for filing false public records and injuring public records.  Huynh was also charged with theft by fraud, and Ly was charged with conspiracy to commit theft by fraud.  All charges against the men are classified as felonies.

The trip tickets were filed with LDWF on June 15 and July 7 and represented 6,347 pounds of crabs with a value of $9,548.91.

SIU agents met with Ly and Huynh on July 28 after receiving a complaint from the department's trip ticket section.  According to the arrest warrant, both men admitted they did not sell or purchase any crabs after agents told the men that Huynh did not possess a commercial fishing license from January through April of this year.  Huynh did purchase his commercial fishing license at the department in May.

Ly stated that he signed and mailed the trip tickets to LDWF headquarters in Baton Rouge after Huynh filled them out.  Huynh stated that he received checks from BP America for $5,000 in May and $5,000 in June according to the arrest warrant.

If convicted, both could face fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail with or without hard labor for each charge of falsifying and injuring public records.  For the conspiracy to commit theft by fraud and theft by fraud charges, both face fines up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in jail with or without hard labor.

"We want to ensure our commercial fishermen and dealers are compensated fairly by using accurate trip ticket information," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of LDWF's Enforcement Division.  "We do not want to see commercial fishermen or dealers tempted to commit felony violations by falsifying trip ticket documents."

LDWF routinely reviews every trip ticket received from the commercial fishing industry to ensure that the most accurate data are collected and properly reflect the important role the state of Louisiana plays in the production of seafood.

These reviews are critical to ensure that commercial fishermen and wholesale/retail dealers are appropriately credited with landings in the event of compensation that results from a natural disaster such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and the current BP America oil spill.

BP America is requesting commercial fishermen to provide landings information from 2007-10 to determine eligibility for financial assistance.  LDWF is providing a landings data report back to commercial fishermen, when requested, to assist with this eligibility process.

The review of trip tickets has become even more critical during this time period considering that the previous years are being used to establish eligibility for assistance.  Any trip tickets from previous years are being subjected to another layer of review by LDWF staff to confirm their validity.

"The information provided on a trip ticket is the best way for the department to establish the value of Louisiana fisheries and the importance of those fisheries to the nation.  Trip ticket data also plays a key role in the managing of fisheries in Louisiana to ensure sustainability," said Michelle Kasprzak, LDWF Trip Ticket Program administrator.  "We ask that trip tickets be completed accurately and submitted on time as required.  Inaccurate or embellished trip tickets will be investigated by the department's Law Enforcement Division."

Trip tickets are filled out at the first point of sale between a commercial fisherman and wholesale/retail dealer or fresh product license holder and are due on the 10th of every month.  Trip tickets are then entered into LDWFs Trip Ticket Program's database.

Commercial fishermen and wholesale/retail dealers may request their trip ticket landings by following the instructions on the LDWF Web site at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/oilspill or calling the trip ticket section at 225-765-2399.

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

2010-232

L.D.W.F. Announces Reopening of Commercial Fishing Areas

Release Date: 07/29/2010

Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) - in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - has ordered an emergency reopening of commercial fishing areas that were previously closed due to the BP oil spill. Specifically, commercial fishing will reopen for finfish and shrimp in portions of state waters east of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes effective immediately today, July 29.

LDWF Secretary Robert Barham ordered these reopenings following the completion of comprehensive testing by the FDA.  The FDA has advised that following extensive sensory testing and analytical chemistry results, the fish samples tested from previously closed areas are safe for consumption.

Details on Commercial Fishing Reopening

The opening includes all state waters inside east of the Mississippi River north of the northern shore of Pass a Loutre and all state outside waters north of 29 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds north latitude

The areas detailed below will remain closed to commercial fishing until further notice due to continued presence of oil:

·         the portion of state inside and outside waters north of 29 degrees 59 minutes 30 seconds north latitude and south of the Mississippi/Louisiana state line from the Louisiana territorial sea boundary westward to 89 degrees 15 minutes 00 seconds west longitude, and

·         the portion of state inside and outside waters north of 29 degrees 36 minutes 30 seconds north latitude and south of 29 degrees 59 minutes 30 seconds north latitude from the Louisiana territorial sea boundary westward to a line extending 1 mile west from the western shore of the Chandeleur Islands, and

·         the portion of state inside waters north of 29 degrees 45 minutes 00 seconds north latitude and south of 29 degrees 59 minutes 30 seconds north latitude from 89 degrees 09 minutes 00 seconds west longitude westward to 89 degrees 15 minutes 00 seconds west longitude, and

·         the portion of state inside waters north of 29 degrees 47 minutes 00 seconds north latitude and south of 29 degrees 51 minutes 00 seconds north latitude from 89 degrees 15 minutes 00 seconds west longitude westward to 89 degrees 22 minutes 00 seconds west longitude

These openings do not include the commercial harvest of crabs and oysters.  The FDA testing method for crabs takes significantly longer to process; as such LDWF Secretary Barham chose a phased approach for opening commercial fishing.  It is also important to note that the spring inshore shrimp season remains closed except in Lake Pontchartrain, portions of Pass Manchac, Rigoletes and Chef Menteur Passes, portions of Mississippi Sound and the open waters of Breton and Chandeleur Sounds as described by the "double-rig" line.

For more information related to the oil spill, visit http://www.emergency.louisiana.gov. Connect with us on www.facebook.com/GOHSEP and on Twitter as @GOHSEP. View photos from the state's response efforts at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lagohsep.

For more contact Marianne Burke at mburke@wlf.la.gov or 225.765.2917

2010-229

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