(November 08, 2012)– Today, officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries launched the first phase of the Seafood Technology and Equipment program, designed to aid the seafood industry in upgrading current equipment. In this first phase, the department will assist oyster vessel owners in purchasing refrigeration equipment. Participants in the program can qualify for 50 percent of their eligible refrigeration costs, up to $10,000.
Oyster refrigeration is an important component of the Department’s Louisiana Wild Seafood Certification Program, launching this fall. Passed by the Louisiana Legislature in 2010, the program authorizes the Department to establish a voluntary certification program for Louisiana wild seafood. Through the program, the Department hopes to create a more professional industry, better handling practices and a more consistent, quality product.
"We are pleased to be able to provide these critical funds to members of the Louisiana Oyster Industry. Advanced refrigeration equipment onboard vessels will help in our efforts to produce high-quality seafood products,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. "While this is a significant step forward for the industry, we understand that these funds are not enough. We continue to explore every available resource to direct additional funds toward this program and intend to create similar programs for other Louisiana fisheries."
The Department is prioritizing the oyster industry in their assistance efforts based on an emergency rule that went into effect in May, changing the way oysters can be harvested. The new rule places restrictions on the amount of time it takes to refrigerate restricted-use products. This program will provide assistance to oyster fishermen in adhering to the new requirements.
Refrigeration units, cooler boxes, generators and other equipment associated with refrigeration are eligible for this program . LDWF will evaluate all equipment as a complete system to ensure it will meet the refrigeration needs of the vessel. New equipment and currently installed equipment that was purchased beginning January 1, 2010 will be eligible for reimbursement provided it meets the programs requirements.New equipment to be installed must be approved prior to purchase.
To apply for this program, contact South Central Planning and Development Commission (SCPDC) to request an application.
P.O. Box 1870, Gray, LA 70359
Local # 985-655-1051
Priority will be given to vessels with refrigeration equipment installed prior to October 1, 2012. This week LDWF will send letters to vessel owners it could identify as meeting this priority qualification. The deadline to submit applications to receive this priority is January 15, 2013.Applications submitted after January 15, 2013 will continue to be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. As funding becomes available, approved applicants will be notified on how to proceed with the purchase and installation of equipment.
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.la.gov, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb, or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.