January 5, 2012 – Today the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission took action designed to improve harvesting and monitoring efforts on the state’s public oyster seed grounds. The proposed action would require Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) onboard all oyster seed ground vessels.
The use of VMS technology will allow LDWF to have real-time access to resource management data and allow LDWF biologists to more effectively serve the oyster industry by monitoring and replacing cultch material where fishing pressures are greatest.
“The use of this technology in the oyster industry is the first of its kind in the Gulf of Mexico,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “Our department continually strives to find innovative ways to manage our state’s seafood treasures while also serving the needs of the seafood community.”
Annually, there are over 700 vessel permits issued, giving access to the state’s public oyster beds, totaling 1.6 million acres. The VMS technology will help the department more accurately determine the actual number of vessels that fish the public seeds grounds as well as the amount of material these vessels take from the public.
The VMS technology will also provide an added safety factor by allowing vessel operators to dispatch help with exact GPS coordinates, as well as for vessel owners to better manage their fleet. The systems will also be available for oyster harvesters to use while fishing private leases.
The Louisiana oyster industry provides more than one-third of the oysters consumed in the United States.
LDWF proposed to institute the VMS program on a year-to-year basis.
The VMS units, service and installation will be provided at no cost to the vessel operator, participants will only be required to provide minimal maintenance for the units.
All information collected by LDWF will be considered privileged and confidential and will not be made public.
Public comments on the Notice of Intent will be accepted prior to April 4, 2012. Comments should be submitted to Jason Froeba at email@example.com or (225) 765-0121.
LDWF is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov , and on Facebook at www.facebook.comldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.
For more information, contact Jason Froeba at (225)765-0121 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For press inquiries please contact Laura Wooderson at email@example.com  or (225)610-2363.