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LDWF News Release

Energy, Business, Conservation Leaders Call For $1.3 Billion Annual Investment for Wildlife Diversity Conservation

Release Date: 03/16/2016

March 16, 2016 - If Congress follows the March 2 recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources, Louisiana and the nation could receive much needed federal money to help avert the growing endangered species crisis.
 
The Panel, assembled by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) in 2014, recommended an annual investment of $1.3 billion into the currently unfunded Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program that would allow state fish and wildlife agencies to proactively manage thousands of non-game species facing decline. That would translate into about $19 million a year for Louisiana, compared to current funding levels of less than $1 million.
 
The money would come from a portion of revenue from energy and mineral development on federal lands and waters, which generates more than $10 billion dollars each year.
 
The funds would help the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to proactively manage these non-game species, reducing taxpayer costs and the regulatory red tape that comes when species are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. The number of species petitioned for listing under the Act has increased by 1,000 percent in less than a decade.
 
The Blue Ribbon Panel includes representatives from state fish and wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups, higher education, the automotive industry, the energy sector, the outdoor recreation manufacturing and retail sectors, as well as private landowners.
 
The panel was headed by John L. Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, and former Wyoming governor David Freudenthal. It convened three times and determined that an increased investment in fish and wildlife conservation makes fiscal sense and is needed to protect the nation’ natural heritage.
 
The goal of the panel was to produce recommendations and policy options on a sustainable and equitable model for the conservation of all fish and wildlife species in the United States. For over 75 years, the highly successful Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) and Sport Fish Restoration (Dingell-Johnson) programs have been the cornerstone of North American conservation, and have exemplified the partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and state fish and wildlife agencies.
 
However, in recent years the number of species petitioned for listing under the ESA has increased by more than 1,000 percent, highlighting the need for robust funding for the conservation of at-risk species of fish and wildlife.
 
Since 2001, the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) Program has been the primary funding source for wildlife diversity conservation in the U.S. However, funding levels for the SWG Program have not been sufficient to address the conservation needs of the over 12,000 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) identified by the states in their State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs). The recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel seek to close that funding gap, and help prevent future ESA listings.
 
 
If the recommendations of the panel are followed, the LDWF would be able to more effectively implement the Louisiana Wildlife Action Plan and ensure the minimization of future ESA listings. These efforts will benefit not only fish and wildlife, but also hunters, anglers, wildlife viewers, and private industry by increasing wildlife associated recreation opportunities, reducing regulation and creating jobs.
 
For more information, contact LDWF’s Sam Holcomb at 225-765-0239 or sholcomb@wlf.la.gov.
 
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.
 

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Over 2,500 Abandoned Traps Removed from Louisiana Waters During LDWF Derelict Crab Trap Rodeo

Release Date: 03/16/2016

LDWF Caolina Bourque collects an accurate count.
Volunteers unload abandoned traps from a vessel during the volunteer day on Lake Pontchartrain.

(March 15, 2016) - Over the course of two February weekends, volunteers, staff and members of the commercial fishing industry retrieved more than 2,500 traps during the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ annual Derelict Crab Trap Rodeo.
 
Two events were held on separate Saturdays, but cleanup efforts continued in the designated areas throughout the closure period.
 
The Lake Pontchartrain cleanup, headed by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, was based out of Pelican Pointe Marina in Orleans Parish on February 13. Volunteers from LPBF, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local chapters of the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana worked with LDWF personnel to collect 554 traps during the event, and LDWF and LPBF staff continued to collect an additional 832 traps during the closure for a grand total of 1,386 traps removed.
 
John Lopez with LPBF said, “Picking up the ghost traps is hard, but very rewarding work. We thank all the volunteers and sponsors who support this worthwhile effort.”
 
The Barataria Basin cleanup, headed by the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, was staged out of Jean Lafitte Harbor in Jefferson Parish on February 20. Volunteers from BTNEP, local CCA chapters and commercial crabbers worked in coordination with the Department to collect 874 traps. During the remaining closure period, an additional 320 traps were collected, for a total of 1,194 traps removed. 
 
Seth Moncrief of BTNEP was extremely appreciative of the outpouring of support, “Thanks to everyone who helped with the 2016 Derelict Crap Trap Rodeo. It was a great effort that removed four thirty-yard dumpsters worth of traps from the waters near Lafitte.”
 
LDWF initiated the volunteer-based Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program in 2004 to address removal of derelict and abandoned crab traps. The program is funded in part by the sale of Louisiana commercial and recreational crab fishing licenses. Since the program’s inception, volunteers have assisted in removing nearly 27,366 traps. Removal of these traps is imperative since they increase ghost-fishing mortality of blue crabs and other species captured incidentally, interfere with other commercial fishing gear types, create navigational hazards and reduce visual appeal of the environment.
 
The success of these events would not be possible without the support of the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Foundation, Boat Stuf Discount Marine Supplies, Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Marsh and Bayou, Southside Grill and members of the general public.

NOAA Fisheries to Host Public Meetings this April in LA to Discuss Potential Skimmer Trawl Regulations

Release Date: 03/15/2016

(March 15, 2016) – NOAA Fisheries is considering new regulations in the shrimp fishery of the southeastern United States.  Citing new information that sea turtles are vulnerable to capture by skimmer trawls and that tow times may not be as effective in reducing bycatch-related mortality as turtle excluder devices, NOAA is considering new regulations. NOAA will host two public meetings in Louisiana to discuss and receive input from fishermen and other constituents on this issue.
 
Meeting schedule is below:

  • Larose, LA -- April 18, 2016, 4 p.m. - 6 p.m., Larose Regional Park and Civic Center, 307 East 5th Street, Larose, LA 70373.
  • Belle Chasse, LA -- April 19, 2016, 4 p.m. - 6 p.m., Belle Chasse Community Center, 8398 Highway 23, Belle Chasse, LA 70037.

Commercial shrimpers are encouraged to provide their input regarding potential changes to shrimp regulations.
 
Below are links to documents created by NOAA to help you prepare for the public meetings.
 
NOAA FAQs
NOAA Scoping Document

 

LDWF Closes Roads at Joyce, Maurepas Swamp WMAs Because of Flooding

Release Date: 03/15/2016

March 15, 2016 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has closed roads at the Joyce and Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) because of flooding.
 
Boyce Tower Road and the road leading into the Crusel Tract have been closed at the Maurepas Swamp WMA. The parking area at the Joyce WMA swamp walk off Old U.S. Hwy. 51 has also been closed.
 
Increasing water levels in the associated river and tributary systems has created backwater flooding on these roads. Road closures are implemented in the interest of public safety. Once the water recedes and conditions allow, the roads will be reopened.
 
Joyce WMA is a 27,487 acre tract located in southern Tangipahoa Parish five miles south of Hammond. For more information on the WMA, go to: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2774.
 
Maurepas Swamp WMA, which consists of 122,098 acres, is located approximately 25 miles west of New Orleans and along the south shore of Lake Maurepas west to near Sorrento. The WMA includes property in Ascension, Livingston, St. John the Baptist, St. James and Tangipahoa parishes. For more information on the WMA, go to: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2791.
 
For more information, contact Forest Burks at fburks@wlf.la.gov or 985-543-4781.

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LDWF Closes Some Roads on Dewey W. Wills WMA Due to Flooding

Release Date: 03/15/2016

March 15, 2016 – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has closed that portion of Hunt Road located south of the diversion canal, Muddy Bayou Road and Sandy Bayou Road to all vehicles at Dewey W. Wills Wildlife Management Area (WMA) because of flooding.
 
Increasing water levels in the Mississippi, Black, and associated river systems has created backwater flooding on these roads. Road closures are implemented in the interest of public safety. Once the water recedes and conditions allow, the roads will be reopened.
  
Dewey W. Wills WMA is located in the southern portion of LaSalle and Catahoula parishes in central Louisiana approximately 20 miles northeast of Alexandria. For more information on the WMA, go to: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2753 .
 
For more information, contact Cliff Dailey at 318-487-5885 or adailey@wlf.la.gov .
 

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Oyster Transplant Permits Available

Release Date: 03/15/2016

 

Baton Rouge --- As part of an initiative by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to provide additional harvest opportunities for the Louisiana oyster industry, licensed Louisiana oyster harvesters will be permitted to move oysters from the public oyster seed grounds located in Lake Borgne and Mississippi Sound (DHH harvest areas 1 and 2) in early April and transplant them to their private leases for later harvest. This program is for the purpose of moving live oyster resource from restricted areas of the public oyster seed grounds to private leases.

To view a map of the proposed transplant area click here.

The two state agencies allow such transplants on a permit-only basis, and will only allow the transplant if the oyster season in this area of the public oyster seed grounds is reopened. Permit applications will be accepted March 14 through March 25, 2016 at 628 N. 4th Street, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The transplant permit fee is $100 and a performance bond of $5,000 must accompany the transplant application. Oyster fishermen who are granted permits will be allowed to transplant during daylight hours between April 1 and April 14, 2016 only, and each transplant vessel must be under the direct supervision of a commissioned officer. All costs associated with the commissioned officer are the responsibility of the person securing the permit. A map identifying the lease where the oysters to be transplanted will be bedded must accompany each permit application.  Incomplete applications will be rejected.

Oyster fishermen who receive permits will be allowed to transplant oysters taken from the public oyster seed grounds in Lake Borgne and Mississippi Sound only to a lease pre-approved by DHH. The oysters that are transplanted must remain on the lease until written approval for market harvest is obtained from DHH. No part of any lease on which shellfish have been transplanted may be utilized for direct market harvesting during this period. Shellfish taken for transplanting purposes shall not be laid down within 500 feet of any adjoining lease where shellfish may be taken for sale as food during the active period of the transplant.

The Secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has the authority to close the oyster season in this area if excessive amounts of non-living reef material are found in the oyster loads that are being transplanted.

Applications for transplant permits may be obtained between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, please contact Gordon LeBlanc or Christopher Lemaire, DHH Commercial Seafood Program at 225-342-7539 or 225-342-7540.

 

 

Commercial fishing for large coastal sharks to close March 15th in state waters

Release Date: 03/14/2016

News Release

 

For Immediate Release
March 14, 2016

Contact: Rene LeBreton
Public Information
LDWF
(504) 286-8745

rlebreton@wlf.la.gov


March 14, 2016 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced that effective March 15 at 11:30 p.m., commercial fishing for large coastal sharks will be closed in Louisiana waters. The National Marine Fisheries Service closed commercial fishing for large coastal sharks in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico on March 12.  The season will remain closed in state and federal waters until January 1, 2017, when the season is scheduled to reopen. 

During the closed season, all commercial harvest, possession, purchase, exchange, barter, trade, sale or attempt to purchase, exchange, barter, trade or sell large coastal sharks or their fins is prohibited.

Vessels that have been issued or that possess a federal shark research permit may continue to operate under the conditions of that permit, which includes the presence of designated NOAA Fisheries observers aboard the vessel for the duration of the trip, until the quota for the federal shark research fishery is achieved.

The season for the commercial harvest of small coastal sharks in Louisiana waters remains open at this time.

For more information, contact Jason Adriance at (504) 284-2032 or jadriance@wlf.louisiana.gov. 

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.la.gov or www.FishLA.org. To receive recreational or commercial fishing email and text alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.

Governor John Bel Edwards has appointed John Roussel to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission

Release Date: 03/13/2016

March 13, 2016 – Gov. John Bel Edwards has appointed John “Zero” Roussel of Gonzales, LA to the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC).

The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC) consists of the five Gulf of Mexico coastal states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida) and was established by a federal compact signed by representatives of the Governors of the five Gulf States in 1949. Its principal objective is the conservation, development, and full utilization of the state fishery resources of the Gulf of Mexico, to provide food, employment, income, and recreation to the people of the United States.  

“As a former Assistant Secretary and Fisheries Biologist of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Mr. Roussel will be a valuable asset for Louisiana on the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission”, said LDWF Secretary Charlie Melancon.  “John was one of the most respected state fishery directors in the country, and his integrity is above reproach.”

Roussel began his distinguished career at the LDWF Lyle St. Amant Marine Laboratory on Grand Terre Island near Grand Isle.  He advanced up through the agency to head the Marine Fisheries Division for many years before being appointed the Assistant Secretary of Fisheries under the administration of Governor Mike Foster.  As Assistant Secretary of Fisheries at LDWF, John Roussel was instrumental in establishing a federal program that provided recovery assistance for the Gulf coast fisheries in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These funds ensured the recovery of a devastated fishing industry following the hurricanes and that recovery model was utilized again after the BP oil spill.

The GSMFC is comprised of fifteen commissioners, three from each of the five Gulf States, who work to set policy, approve GSMFC's budget and provide direction for GSMFC activities. Of these voting members, one-third are appointed by the state legislatures, one-third are private citizens with a knowledge of and interest in marine fisheries who are appointed by the states' governors, and the remaining third are state fishery resource agency directors. 

Mr. Roussel has been appointed to represent the ‘private citizen’ seat for Louisiana. Senator Brett Allain (R-New Iberia) will serve as the Legislative appointment and LDWF Secretary Charlie Melancon will represent the state.

Mr. Roussel’s appointment is effective immediately.

LDWF Closes Roads in Some Wildlife Management Areas Due to Flooding, High Water

Release Date: 03/11/2016

March 11, 2016 - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has closed all interior roads and trails in several wildlife management areas (WMAs), including Bayou Macon WMA, Big Lake WMA, Boeuf WMA and J.C. Sonny Gilbert WMA, because of high water brought on by flooding.
 
Increasing water levels in associated river systems have caused backwater flooding on these thoroughfares. Once the water recedes, traffic will be permitted.
 
J. C. Sonny Gilbert WMA is located in Catahoula Parish, north of La. Hwy. 8 approximately six miles west of Sicily Island. All roads and trails providing access to the south end of the WMA from La. Hwy. 8 are closed due to unsafe road conditions. Access roads to the northern portion of this area remain open at this time.  
 
Bayou Macon WMA is located in the northwest portion of East Carroll Parish and is approximately four miles east of Oak Grove and five miles northwest of Lake Providence.
 
Big Lake WMA is located in Franklin, Madison and Tensas parishes and is approximately 12 miles east of Gilbert, north of La. Hwy. 4.
 
Boeuf WMA is located in Caldwell and Catahoula parishes, north and south of La. Hwy. 4 approximately 10 miles southeast of Columbia.
 
For more information on these WMAs, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2777 or contact Lowrey Moak at 318-343-4044 or lmoak@wlf.la.gov.

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High Water Threat in the Larto-Saline Lake Complex LaSalle/Catahoula/Concordia/Avoyelles Parishes

Release Date: 03/11/2016

 (March 11, 2016) -  The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is notifying the public of the immediate threat of flooding in the Larto-Saline Lake Complex.  The water level is currently rising and is predicted to reach a level of 50.0 feet MSL on March the 18th, 2016. 

 The predicted water level would be 2 feet higher than the previous high water experienced in January 2016.  This will close many of the access roads in the area and is expected to cause flooding of numerous homes and camps. 

Water levels in local rivers, including the Black, Ouachita, and Red Rivers, are rising fast.  Water from these rivers is currently flowing into the Larto-Saline Lake complex at the Larto Lake structure and the Cross Bayou Weir.

All property owners in flood prone areas are encouraged to make preparations for this flooding immediately.  Water levels are expected to rise quickly over the next several days.

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 additional information regarding this situation, contact Ricky Moses, LDWF Biologist Manager, at rmoses@wlf.la.gov or (318)487-5888. 

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