Yesterday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission took action to amend the current Notice of Intent (NOI) to modify regulations governing the commercial menhaden fishery, including the statewide fishing buffer, restricted areas off southwestern Louisiana, and requirements following the release of gear or fish.  The Commission concurrently adopted a Declaration of Emergency to make the amended Rule effective for the duration of the 2024 commercial menhaden season.

This action occurred at a special meeting of the Commission after stakeholder meetings held last week. The Commission received public comment for the current proposed Rule at its regular meeting on February 1, but declined action on the proposal at that time pending additional stakeholder engagement.

The original NOI adopted by the Commission in October 2023, proposed a statewide buffer of one mile, added provisions that establish a buffer zone three miles off the area between Holly Beach and Rutherford Beach in southwestern Louisiana, and clarified when the retrieval of any menhaden or bycatch released into the environment must begin and the conditions and penalties associated with such a release.   The details of the original NOI can be found here.

Buffer Zone Amendments:

The amended NOI reduces the proposed one-mile statewide buffer to one-half mile, eliminates the proposed buffer off Rutherford Beach, and reduces the buffer off Holly Beach from three miles to one mile.

Amended Buffer Zone Maps

 Release of Gear and Fish

The amended NOI made technical adjustments to clarify the responsibility of operators to report incidents involving released menhaden gear or its contents and retrieve such gear or fish timely and penalties associated with such violations.

A one-time public hearing on proposed substantive changes will be held by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on April 23, 2024, at 10 a.m. in the Joe L. Herring Louisiana Room of the Wildlife and Fisheries Headquarters Building, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA, 70808. Interested persons are invited to attend and submit oral comments on the proposed amendments.

To view the full Notice of Intent, click here.

To view the Declaration of Emergency, click here.