Louisiana is known to many as the Sportsman’s Paradise for its excellent fishing and wildlife, but that moniker may be in jeopardy if the menhaden reduction fishing industry continues to wreak havoc on the state’s shoreline and deplete fish populations through unsustainable and irresponsible fishing practices.
The menhaden harvesting industry is the second largest fishing industry by volume in the United States and well-regulated in most other states. Yet in Louisiana, the industry is free to fish as much as they please, wherever they please, without regard to the environment, fish populations or water depth. While state lawmakers are aware of the issue, a bill has yet to be passed to address the problem. Louisiana House Bill 1033, a bill placing catch limits and reporting requirements on menhaden fisheries, will be monumental in saving our coast if passed by the Senate.
The Gulf Menhaden Conservation Coalition, an alliance of environmentalists, wildlife conservationists and sport fishermen, is available to discuss:
- How the destructive and irresponsible practices by the menhaden reduction fishing industry operating in Louisiana’s waters have damaged the state’s marine ecosystems by fishing in shallow waters and dragging their boats and nets on the seabed.
- How the overfishing of menhaden depletes the available food source for species like redfish, speckled trout, flounder, jacks and mackerels who depend on menhaden as a critical part of their diets; and how this affects Louisiana’s sport fishing industry.
- How the purse seine nets used by the industry aren’t selective, trapping and killing many other species of fish, which are lazily discarded as waste.
- How Louisiana is the only Gulf state that has not established an adequate buffer zone for menhaden reduction fishing and why a ½- to 1-mile buffer would protect Louisiana’s coastal habitats and species.
- Why an ecosystem-based management approach for menhaden that allows them to fulfill their ecological role as a food source for other species, avoids habitat damage caused by destructive fishing practices and promotes a healthy coastal ecosystem is imperative.
- Why HB 1033 is an important step toward protecting Louisiana’s coast and marine ecosystem.
If you’re interested in meeting with a representative of the Gulf Menhaden Conservation Coalition to learn more about how menhaden reduction fisheries have damaged Louisiana’s environment, are threatening the state’s standing as the Sportsman’s Paradise, and how the fisheries can improve to operate in sustainable ways that protect our coast and other species, you can contact HBW Resources at (713) 355-9714.