Oil Spill

LDWF Reopens Commercial Crab Fishing in Mississippi River Delta

Release Date: 11/08/2010

LDWF Reopens Commercial Crab Fishing in Mississippi River Delta
LDWF Reopens Commercial Crab Fishing in Mississippi River Delta

Reopening effective immediately; 98.5% of state waters reopened for commercial fishing

Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ordered an emergency reopening of commercial crabbing in portions of state inside and outside territorial waters within the Mississippi River Delta previously closed due to the BP oil spill.
LDWF Secretary Robert Barham ordered this opening following the completion of comprehensive testing by the FDA. The FDA has advised that following extensive sensory testing and analytical chemistry results, the crab tissue samples tested from these previously closed areas are safe for consumption.

Commercial crab fishing reopens immediately today, November 8, 2010. The reopening includes portions of state waters extending seaward a minimum distance of one-quarter mile or more from the shoreline between the northern shore of Pass a Loutre and 29 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds north latitude and the western shore of Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River and 89 degrees 25 minutes 00 seconds west longitude. For a detailed description of the latitude and longitude lines for which the reopening applies, click here.

Recreational and commercial fishing for shrimp and finfish were previously opened in these waters on October 28. The harvest of oysters is regulated by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals; harvesting areas remain closed in portions of these waters.

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 Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov. 

Documents: 

LDWF Opens Additional State Waters to Shrimp and Finfish Harvest

Release Date: 10/28/2010

LDWF Opens Additional State Waters to Shrimp and Finfish Harvest
LDWF Opens Additional State Waters to Shrimp and Finfish Harvest

State waters now 98.5 percent open to recreational and commercial fishing; reopening coincides with federal reopening

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has ordered the reopening of additional state waters with the Mississippi River Delta to commercial and recreational shrimp and finfish harvest effective immediately. This reopening of waters previously closed to fishing due to the BP oil spill, is done in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
LDWF Secretary Robert Barham ordered the reopening as comprehensive sensory and chemical testing by the state and the FDA concluded that seafood from these areas is safe for consumption. Including the current reopening, 98.5 percent of state waters are now open to commercial and recreational fishing.

Commercial fishing for the harvest of finfish and shrimp is immediately open today, October 28, seaward a minimum distance of one-quarter mile or more from the shoreline between the northern shore of Pass a Loutre and 29 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds westward to the western shore of Southwest Pass and 89 degrees 25 minutes 00 seconds west longitude. This reopening includes waters in the following areas:

  • Pass a Loutre,
  • North Pass,
  • Northeast Pass,
  • Southeast Pass,
  • South Pass and
  • Southwest Pass.

Portions of the following areas are also being reopened:

  • Blind Bay,
  • Redfish Bay,
  • Garden Island Bay and
  • East Bay.

Additional portions of state outside territorial waters between Pass a Loutre and Southwest Pass are also included in the reopening. 

This reopening does not extend to the harvest of crabs and oysters as LDWF officials are still awaiting hydrocarbon test results on crabs, and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals regulates the harvest of oysters.

The following state waters, however, will remain closed to commercial fishing until further notice:

  • The area south of the southern shore of Pass a Loutre extending westward to the eastern shore of Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River inside of a line extending a minimum of one-quarter mile or more seaward from the shoreline except for Pass a Loutre, North Pass, Northeast Pass, Southeast Pass and South Pass;
  • A portion of Barataria Bay north of Grand Isle, east of the Barataria Waterway and west of 89 degrees 50 minutes 00 seconds west longitude between 29 degrees 30 minutes and 29 degrees 26 minutes north latitude; and
  • An area from near Quatre Bayou Pass westward including Grand Terre Island to Barataria Pass.

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 Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.

2010-298

Documents: 

Large Orange Mass in Gulf Algal Bloom, Not Oil, Conclude LSU Scientists

Release Date: 10/27/2010

Independent tests indicate orange mass off Tiger Pass not related to spill; final results still pending.

Tests conducted at the Louisiana State University (LSU) departments of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, and Environmental Sciences concluded today that a large mass of orange substance near Tiger Pass in the Mississippi Delta is an algal bloom, not oil. Scientists tested samples collected over the weekend by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) staff for any accumulation of oil among the phytoplankton.

According to analysis by Dr. Sibel Bargu, Assistant Professor at LSU’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences and a specialist in algae, and by the laboratory of Dr. Ed Overton, Professor Emeritus for the Department of Environmental Sciences, the large orange mass identified and sampled by LDWF biologists in the area near Tiger Pass is an algal bloom.

“Large algal blooms are common occurrences in the Gulf of Mexico when we experience warm weather, particularly from May to November,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “This summer, we have all been acutely aware of possible impacts from the oil spill, which make us take a closer look at events like this one that might normally go unnoticed in our state waters. That is why we pursued testing the algal bloom to ensure that it was phytoplankton and not oil from the BP oil spill.”

Dr. Overton’s lab, which specializes in petroleum analysis, did conclude that there were some extremely low levels of hydrocarbons present in the samples – a finding that is consistent with normal water samples in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Hydrocarbons are common in samples taken at the surface, as the algal bloom samples were, and typically accumulate over time from natural oil seeps, waterway discharges, boat byproducts and various forms of industrial runoff.

Early reports about an orange substance in federal waters southwest of the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River were made to the U.S. Coast Guard last week, and they were the first to investigate the claims that the mass was oil. Once the substance was reported within state waters, LDWF biologists investigated the algal bloom and collected samples for independent testing at LSU. The conclusions from professors Overton and Bargu are consistent with the assumption made by the Coast Guard that the mass was a large algal bloom rather than oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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.

2010-295

NOAA, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Audubon Nature Institute Return Sea Turtles to Gulf Waters

Release Date: 10/21/2010

Scientists from NOAA, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Audubon Nature Institute joined with Coast Guard Rear Admiral Roy A. Nash today to return 32 sea turtles to Gulf of Mexico waters offshore of Louisiana. This is the first release of rehabilitated sea turtles to the waters near where they were rescued from oil more than three months ago-after extensive analysis to determine that the area is clean and a safe habitat for the turtles.
 
“Today’s release would not have been possible if all the partners had not worked tirelessly during the oil spill to search for, rescue and rehabilitate the sea turtles,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are able to release these turtles because they’re now healthy and we’re seeing recovery in the surface habitats of the Gulf of Mexico. They are being released within federal waters off the coast of Louisiana that earlier this month, NOAA reopened to fishing. This was another important sign of improvement in the health of the Gulf of Mexico.”
 
Scientists selected the release location, approximately 40 miles southwest of Grand Isle, La., after conducting thorough aerial and shipboard surveys earlier this week to locate clean sargassum algae habitat for the sea turtles. Young sea turtles, such as those released today, spend the early years of their lives swimming and feeding in large floating sargassum algae mats that form in convergence zones where currents meet. Sargassum mats provide protection for turtles from predators as well as a variety of prey for food, including small crabs, snails and other creatures.
 
“I am excited to see these turtles returned to the waters from which they had been rescued during the spill – they’re going home today,” said Rear Adm. Nash, deputy federal on-scene coordinator for the ongoing clean-up operations. “Today’s release is possible because of the efforts of many to rehabilitate the turtles, and to ensure the Gulf waters are ready for their return. This is an encouraging sign that the Gulf of Mexico is recovering.”
 
The 33 turtles released today included species of green, Kemp’s ridley, hawksbill and loggerhead sea turtles. Green, Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill sea turtles are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Loggerheads are currently listed as threatened.
 
“For our staff, today has been long-awaited. Returning sea turtles to waters off the Louisiana coast is evidence of the incredible partnership between our biologists and enforcement agents, and our partnerships with local and federal agencies. Not only did our staff dedicate long days for months on end to the search, rescue and recovery of sea turtles and mammals, but they were committed even when the required tasks went above and beyond their jobs,” said Randy Pausina, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries assistant secretary for the state’s office of fisheries. “Returning this group of sea turtles to their home waters is more than a great achievement for all of our dedicated staff, it is a sign that Louisiana is on the path towards recovery.”
 
The turtles released today were rescued by teams from NOAA, LDWF, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Riverhead Foundation and the In-Water Research Group. The turtles received extensive treatment and care, including cleaning and de-oiling, at the Audubon Nature Institute outside New Orleans.
 
"Six months ago, it was nearly impossible to imagine this day would ever come," said Ron Forman, president and CEO of the Audubon Nature Institute. "Audubon is privileged to have played a key role in this remarkable recovery. Words can't begin to describe how proud I am of our team and their incredible effort in rehabilitating nearly 200 turtles."
 
More than 500 live turtles were rescued during the Gulf oil spill and about 400 heavily oiled turtles were placed in rehabilitation. Those not placed in rehabilitation were immediately released in healthy surface habitats because they were lightly oiled and did not require rehabilitation, Today’s release brings to 270 the number of rehabilitated turtles that have been returned to the Gulf of Mexico. The turtles remaining in rehabilitation facilities will be released as they are given clean bills of health.
 
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov .

 

For more information, contact Olivia Watkins at or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.

2010-293

LDWF Announces Fishing to Resume in Portions of State Waters in the Barataria Basin

Release Date: 10/14/2010

Recreational Map
Commercial Map

Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in coordination with the FDA and NOAA, has ordered an emergency reopening of all fishing in portions of state waters within the Barataria Basin previously closed due to the BP oil spill. Following today’s action, 96 percent of all saltwater areas of the state are open to recreational and commercial fishing.

Commercial fishing will reopen immediately today, October 14, to the harvest of finfish, crabs and shrimp in portions of state waters between Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche. The openings also include the recreational harvest of shrimp and crabs.

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

State inside and outside territorial waters will remain closed to commercial fishing until further notice in the following areas:

1) The Mississippi River delta south of the northern shore of Pass a Loutre and 29 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds north latitude westward to the western shore of Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River

2) A portion of Barataria Bay north of Grand Isle east of the Barataria Waterway and west of 89 degrees 50 minutes 00 seconds west longitude between 29 degrees 30 minutes and 29 degrees 26 minutes north latitude

3) An area from near Quatre Bayou Pass westward including Grand Terre Island, to Barataria Pass as shown in the detail map will remain closed to commercial fishing until further notice.

While LDWF continues to work closely with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to ensure the safety of Louisiana’s seafood, these openings do not include the harvest of oysters, as this activity is regulated by DHH. 

For additional information, please contact Joey Shepard at (225) 765-2384 or jshepard@wlf.la.gov.

2010-288

NOAA Reopens More than 5,000 Square Miles of Federal Waters Just in Time for Red Snapper Season

Release Date: 10/01/2010

Today the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the reopening of 5,628 square miles of Gulf federal waters west of the Mississippi River to commercial and recreational fishing. This reopening accompanies the start of a special recreational red snapper season announced by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) just last week. The season began today, Oct. 1, 2010, and will remain open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout Sunday, November 21. The season will then remain closed until June 1, 2011.
 
The NOAA reopening of additional federal waters today is the seventh reopening since July 22. Federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico are now 89 percent open. NOAA reports that no oil or sheen has been documented in the area since August 6.
 
The additional recreational red snapper season opening was requested by NOAA Regional Administrator Roy Crabtree in a letter sent a letter to LDWF Secretary Robert Barham last week to match the federal season reopening. Today’s reopening of federal waters opens up a crucial portion of the Gulf in which recreational red snapper fishing occurs. This may also help boost launches, marinas and private camps out of Grand Isle, Cocodrie and Venice, as they both provide close access to the newly opened area.
 
NOAA officials chose to reopen the season for red snapper due to the significant fishing closures issued this summer as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident.  Figures suggest the recreational red snapper quota was not met at the July 24, 2010 closure date and that approximately 2.3 million pounds of the 3.4 million pound quota remains.  
 
All regulations established for recreational harvest of red snapper will be in effect for this special season.  
 
Secretary Barham was authorized by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at their January 2010 meeting to change or modify opening and closing dates for the recreational red snapper season in Louisiana waters to comply with changes or modifications in season dates in federal waters. This action ensures that regulations in state waters will coincide with regulations for federally managed waters.
 
For additional information on the NOAA reopening, visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/deepwater_horizon_oil_spill.htm .

For more information, contact Olivia Watkins at owatkins@wlf.la.gov or 225/765-2396.

 

2010-279

LDWF Announces Fishing to Resume in State Waters West of Bayou Lafourche

Release Date: 09/24/2010

Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, has ordered an emergency reopening of all fishing in 210 square miles of state waters west of Bayou Lafourche previously closed due to the BP oil spill. With today’s action, 95 percent of state waters are opened.

Commercial fishing will reopen immediately today, September 24, to the harvest of finfish, crabs and shrimp in all state waters west of Bayou Lafourche and 90 degrees 13 minutes 30 seconds west longitude. The openings also include the recreational harvest of shrimp and crabs.

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

State inside waters in the Mississippi River delta south of the northern shore of Pass a Loutre and adjacent state outside waters south of 29 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds north latitude westward to the western shore of Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River and portions of state waters in the Barataria Basin will remain closed to commercial fishing until further notice.

While LDWF continues to work closely with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to ensure the safety of Louisiana’s seafood, these openings do not include the harvest of oysters, as this activity is regulated by DHH.  

For additional information, please contact Laura Deslatte at (225) 610-2363 or ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov.

 

2010-275

LDWF ANNOUNCES RETURN TO NORMAL FISHING ACTIVITY EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI

Release Date: 09/23/2010

Today, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, has ordered an emergency reopening of all fishing in 559 square miles of state waters east of the Mississippi River previously closed due to the BP oil spill. With today's action 92 percent of state waters are open.

Commercial fishing will reopen immediately today, September 23, to the harvest of finfish, crabs and shrimp in all state waters east of the Mississippi River north of the northern shore of Pass a Loutre and 29 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds north latitude. The openings also include the recreational harvest of shrimp and crabs.

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

State inside waters in the Mississippi River delta south of the northern shore of Pass a Loutre and adjacent state outside waters south of 29 degrees 12 minutes 40 seconds north latitude westward to the western shore of Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River and portions of state waters in the Barataria and Terrebonne Basins will remain closed to commercial fishing until further notice.

While LDWF continues to work closely with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to ensure the safety of Louisiana's seafood, these openings do not include the harvest of oysters, as this activity is regulated by DHH.

For additional information, please contact Laura Deslatte at (225) 610-2363 or ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov.

 

2010-274

Red Snapper Season to Reopen on Weekends Beginning October 1

Release Date: 09/22/2010

Today the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced recreational fishing for red snapper will reopen in state waters on Friday, October 1, 2010.  The season will remain open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout Sunday, November 21.  The season will then remain closed until June 1, 2011.
 
NOAA Regional Administrator, Roy Crabtree, sent a letter to LDWF Secretary Robert Barham this week, requesting the reopening of red snapper season in state waters to match the federal season reopening.  
 
NOAA officials chose to reopen the season for red snapper due to the significant fishing closures issued this summer as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. Figures suggest the recreational red snapper quota was not met at the July 24, 2010 closure date and that approximately 2.3 million pounds of the 3.4 million pound quota remains.  
 
All regulations established for recreational harvest of red snapper will be in effect for this special season.  
 
Secretary Barham was authorized by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at their January 2010 meeting to change or modify opening and closing dates for the recreational red snapper season in Louisiana waters to comply with changes or modifications in season dates in federal waters.  This action ensures that regulations in state waters will coincide with regulations for federally managed waters.

For more information, contact Harry Blanchet at hblanchet@wlf.la.gov or 225/765-2889.

 

2010-273

LDWF Secretary Again Asks BP to Fund an Extensive Seafood Testing, Certification and Marketing Plan

Release Date: 09/15/2010

New plan calls for five-year program to restore consumer confidence in Louisiana seafood

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham wrote to BP Global Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley urging the funding of a $173 million plan to ensure the safety of Louisiana seafood and restore consumer confidence.

The text of the letter is below:

 

September 15, 2010

Robert Dudley
Chief Executive Officer
BP Global

 

Dear Mr. Dudley:

I write to express my strong disappointment with BP’s resistance to support our crippled Louisiana seafood industry.  As our state endeavors to rebuild consumer confidence in our seafood products, we have requested that BP fund a five-year testing and marketing program that is essential to restoring consumer confidence in Louisiana seafood.

It is without question that your company appreciates the importance of public perception, as demonstrated by its spending in excess of $100 million in advertising, image promotion and damage control.  However, recent events have made it clear that BP’s appreciation for public perception is nonexistent when it comes to Louisiana’s seafood industry. BP representatives made it clear that, in their opinion, there is no negative public perception of Louisiana seafood as a result of the oil spill and that no certified quality or marketing program would be necessary for the Louisiana seafood industry to recover from the devastation that your spill caused.

That “opinion” of BP’s is fundamentally disconnected from reality. The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism reports that approximately 50 percent of those surveyed nationwide believe that Louisiana restaurants may be putting their customers at risk due to contaminated product. The same study also shows that 44 percent of consumers believe that seafood is being harvested from areas where oil is still present and nearly half of all respondents believe that Louisiana oyster beds are still contaminated from the spill. Another study by the University of Minnesota reports that 44 percent of those surveyed said they would not eat seafood from the Gulf, and a poll by the Associated Press in August 2010 found that 54 percent of consumers are concerned about the safety of Gulf seafood.

BP has already refused our 20-year testing plan. Now, BP officials have also refused to support a five-year testing plan. Further, BP informed us that it will not entertain the possibility of automatic renewals, or even negotiations, for future testing.  This preemptive refusal of even the possibility of longer-term testing is being maintained by your company, in spite of our offer to base future testing program renewals on future test results, market share, and/or production criteria.   

Further, BP suggested that we wait until our seafood industry suffers greater losses caused by the negative perception that Gulf seafood is contaminated due to the BP oil spill.  The idea that we would need to wait until the industry suffers further before employing a full-scale campaign to test our seafood, certify it and publicize that it is safe is insulting to our seafood industry and all the fishermen, restaurant owners and residents of the Gulf Coast who continue to be affected by the spill.  

The entire point of promoting and certifying seafood safety is so that we do NOT wait until the industry suffers to the point where it is not able to come back at all. It does no good to wait until market share reduction and price collapses are verified only to then try to start rebuilding our brand as some of the finest seafood in the world.  It will be too late to regain such a tremendous loss, and also serve as an avoidable punishment for the people of coastal Louisiana who have already suffered too much from this BP manmade disaster.

I ask that you reconsider your position, and honor your publically made commitment to the Gulf Coast to not deny any claim and commit to making our people and our industry whole again following this environmental catastrophe.

 

Very Truly Yours,

LDWF Secretary Robert Barham
State of Louisiana

 

2010-268

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