LWFC adjusts pogie buffer – Louisiana Athlete

LWFC adjusts pogie buffer – Louisiana Athlete


The “settlement” reduces the previously proposed mile limit to half a mile

Commercial fisheries will now have to adhere to a half-mile buffer on the Louisiana coast. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission unanimously approved emergency regulations creating buffers for the 2024 season at a special meeting on Thursday, February 15.

Five minutes after opening the meeting, commissioners offered a motion to pass the amended regulations, although details of the amendments to the former NOI were not publicly discussed or read at the meeting.

However, a public comment period on the amendments was offered to the NOI, again without the full scope of the new proposal being discussed at the meeting.

Modified fences

During the public comment period, conservation groups and commercial fishery operators suddenly “mend the fences” after years of debate. Comments from both sides praised the commissioners on the new regulations. Both sides agreed that concessions had been reached but would be beneficial in the long term. This came just two weeks after many of the same representatives from the same groups were miles apart in their stances. LWFC declined to vote on its previous notice of intent, which proposed a one-mile buffer zone at the time. Instead, they asked both sides of the issue to reach a compromise. Although this had failed several times before, this time it was reached in just one quick meeting.

(Map provided by LDWF)

François Cotelle, president of Westbank Fishing, LLC, implored commissioners and attendees for unity.

“As they say, compromise is something that both sides don’t like but can live with,” Kotel said. “Commercial fishing in this state is threatened. Let’s not throw grenades at each other. Let’s work together to make Louisiana better.”

Ben Landry, who represents Omega Protein, a menhaden fishing company, said his company is “looking forward” to the buffer zones. They were regular representatives of two large foreign-owned fishing companies on the Louisiana coast.

“I appreciate the commissioners’ leadership,” Landry said. “We are simply looking forward to running our fishing operations in 2024 with these new rules. We are looking for a safe and productive harvest. Anything we can participate in through additional research and improved understanding of the fishery, we have a history of supporting.”

Industry management

Charlie Caplinger, president of CCA Louisiana, thanked the group.

“Thank you to the commissioners for taking these steps to manage the industry,” Caplinger said. “I really want to thank our legislators who kept this issue at the forefront and made sure the 400,000 fishermen were represented here.”

Rep. Joe Orgeron, 54th District, who was involved in the menhaden fishery legislation, said the buffer barriers were a compromise.

“Three years ago, I proposed some common-sense legislation on this particular industry, and I didn’t succeed even after the settlement,” Orgeron said. “As a representative of the people, many of whom will not be happy, this is the compromise. I will continue to represent these people and closely monitor the bougie industry and stakeholder requests and requirements.

Concerned sportsmen and environmental activists who were not involved in the settlement and who are concerned about declining trout and redfish populations and damage to Louisiana’s fragile coastline are among those who are not happy.

Following the results of the meeting, several people pointed out that the buggy industry, with its significant political influence, gave up a quarter-mile in the settlement and the sport fishing side gave up a half-mile in the settlement from the original NOI approved by the commission. . The three-mile buffer off Grand Isle and the one-mile buffer off Holly Beach remain within the modified rules.

No guarantee

Later in the meeting, Cottle and Landry assured commissioners that their companies had purchased new nets that would prevent as many spills and rips as have occurred in the past several years. West Bank purchased new Spectra nets for each boat, a stronger product than nylon, according to Kotel.

But Cotell added: “I can’t guarantee that nothing will ever happen.”

Besides the nets, Landry said his company purchased equipment that will be used as a fish scraper to help clean up spills of dead fish so as not as many of them reach shore.

The commission also had to pass an emergency declaration to allow the new rules to go into effect before the opening of the 2024 season on April 15 without the usual general statutory publications, comment periods and legislative oversight.

The commission’s action Thursday does not completely end the bogie hunting controversy. A comprehensive bycatch study was planned to determine the waste of valuable sport fish resources caused by the buggy fishing operation, and at least one speaker encouraged the committee not to let these efforts go to waste.

Study of bycatch

Chris Macaluso, of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, urged commissioners to have the groups conducting the proposed bycatch study submit presentations to the group and “to get some clarity on what those groups are going to produce.” He also said that these efforts should be continued in time to protect beaches and coastal fish resources.

“Conserving Louisiana’s vast but diminishing coastal fisheries and Louisiana’s vital barrier islands, beaches and marshes has been a goal of our coalition for the past five years,” Macaluso said. “We have continually worked with the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries staff, concerned anglers, vessel captains, conservationists, legislators at all levels and the menhaden industry to enact meaningful regulations that can help achieve this goal while recognizing the importance of fisheries. Commercial Fish for Louisiana’s Economy and Culture The Commission deserves a lot of credit for recognizing the validity of our coalition’s concerns and taking a major step forward in protecting Louisiana’s coast.

Conservation groups and sportsmen have also called for stricter monitoring of daily buggy operations, consistent enforcement of regulations and tougher penalties for violators. These needs have not disappeared even with a new buffer limit.

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