L.D.W.F. News

L.D.W.F. News Release

L.W.F.C. Welcomes New Commissioner Billy Broussard at December Meeting

Release Date: 12/02/2010

Billy Broussard

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) today welcomed Billy Broussard of Pecan Island to the seat previously held by Earl King. Governor Bobby Jindal announced the appointment of Broussard in November, replacing Mr. King, who resigned due to health issues. Broussard, a coastal parish resident, will serve as a representative of the commercial fishing and fur industries, as required by statute.  He owns and operates Pecan Island Redfish Charters.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission was created to protect, conserve and replenish the natural resources and wildlife of the state, including all aquatic life. The commission has the authority to establish definite management programs and policies and to approve and accept all contracts at its discretion. According to the statute, the commission is comprised of seven members appointed by the governor, subject to senate confirmation. Members include three residents of the coastal parishes of the state who are representatives of the commercial fishing and fur industries and four members from the state at large.

For more information, contact Bo Boehringer at 225/765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov.

Hunting and Fishing Advisory Education Council Announce Dec. 7 Meeting Agenda

Release Date: 12/02/2010

Hunting and Fishing Advisory Education Council
Meeting Agenda
Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 - 1:30 p.m.
Louisiana 4th Floor Conference Room
Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries Headquarters
2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, La.  70808

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of Minutes of Sept. 21, 2010
  3. Welcome and Opening Comments
    Woody Crews, Chairman
  4. Organization Overview: LSU AgCenter
    Dr. Donald Reed
  5. Enforcement Division Report: Boating Safety Course Compliance
    Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne
  6. Office of Fisheries: Tilapia Control in Plaquemines Parish
    Dr. Tom Lorenz, University of New Orleans
  7. Whooping Crane Re-introduction Project
    Robert Love, Office of Wildlife, CNR Division
  8. 2010-11 Duck Season Update
    Larry Reynolds, Office of Wildlife, Wildlife Division
  9. Sector Separation
    Woody Crews, Chairman
  10. Set Next Meeting Date
  11. Receive Public Comments
  12. Adjournment

For more information, contact Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.la.gov.

Amended Agenda for December Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Meeting

Release Date: 11/29/2010

The next regular Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Meeting will be held at 9:30 AM on Thursday, December 2, 2010, in the Louisiana Room at the Wildlife and Fisheries Building, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA. The following items will be discussed:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of Minutes of November 4, 2010
  3. Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege
  4. To receive and hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/November
  5. To hear presentation on NAWCA Project Update on Russell Sage WMA
  6. To consider Declaration of Emergency and Notice of Intent on Fisheries Closures due to Oil Spill
  7. To consider Declaration of Emergency to Close Portions of State Outside Waters to Shrimping
  8. To consider Declaration of Emergency to open the Primary Public Oyster Seed Grounds East of the Mississippi River and the Hackberry Bay Seed Reservation
  9. To consider Notice of Intent on Oyster Lease Relocation for Leases Not Available for Renewal Due to those Leases Being Located Within a Public Oyster Seed Ground
  10. Set April 2011 Meeting Date
  11. Receive Public Comments
  12. Adjournment

Agenda Set for December Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Meeting

Release Date: 11/23/2010

The next regular Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 2, 2010, in the Louisiana Room at the Wildlife and Fisheries Building, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA.

The following items will be discussed:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of Minutes of November 4, 2010
  3. Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege
  4. To receive and hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/November
  5. To hear presentation on NAWCA Project Update on Russell Sage WMA
  6. To consider Declaration of Emergency and Notice of Intent on Fisheries Closures due to Oil Spill
  7. To consider Declaration of Emergency to open the Primary Public Oyster Seed Grounds East of the Mississippi River and the Hackberry Bay Seed Reservation
  8. To consider Notice of Intent on Oyster Lease Relocation for Leases Not Available for Renewal Due to those Leases Being Located Within a Public Oyster Seed Ground
  9. Set April 2011 Meeting Date
  10. Receive Public Comments
  11. Adjournment

Louisiana Oyster Task Force to Meet Next Tuesday

Release Date: 11/22/2010

The Louisiana Oyster Task Force will meet next Tuesday, November 30 at 1:00 PM at the UNO Advanced Technology Center, 2021 Lakeshore Drive, suite 210 in New Orleans, LA.

The agenda is as follows:

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of August 27, 2010 MINUTES
  3. Approval of October 19, 2010 MINUTES
  4. Treasury Report
    1. Oyster Tag Sales
    2. LOTF Financial Report 
  5. Committee Reports
    1. Public and Private Oyster Grounds Committee – (Buddy Pausina)
    2. Enforcement - (Keith Lacaze)
    3. Legislative - (Jakov Jurisic)
    4. Research – (John Supan)
    5. Coastal Restoration – (Dan Coulon)
    6. Marketing - (Dana Brocato)
  6. Old Business
    1. Public Seed Grounds Oyster Season – Update
    2. BP Oil Spill Update
      1. Claims Process
      2. Public Reef Damages
      3. Oyster Lease Damages
      4. NRDA Sampling of Private Oyster leases
    3. Oyster Lease Moratorium – Jerome Zeringue
  7. New Business
    1. Public Relations – Oyster Industry and Coastal Restoration
    2. Sherwood Gagliano-Restoration of Oyster Grounds and industry in St. Bernard Parish (Dana Brocato)
    3. ISSC Meeting (Al Sunseri)
  8. Set Next Meeting

The public and private oyster grounds committee will meet at 10 AM, prior to the Oyster Task Force meeting, to discuss relocation of non- renewed leases and relocation sites for leases in the public seed ground.
These meetings are open to the public.

For more information please contact Laura Deslatte at ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov or 225.765.2335. 

State Officials Finalize Deal to Fund Projects to Restore Louisiana’s Seafood and Tourism Industries

Release Date: 11/19/2010

LDWF and Lt. Gov. Angelle secure $48 Million dedicated to seafood safety and marketing; $30 million for tourism marketing

Late yesterday evening, Lt. Governor Scott A. Angelle and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Secretary Robert Barham finalized plans with BP to fund marketing efforts aimed at revitalizing Louisiana’s tourism and seafood industries. Both industries were drastically impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The agreement finalized on November 18, 2010 requires BP to fund $18 million in seafood safety and monitoring, $30 million in seafood marketing and $30 million in tourism marketing.

The agreement in principle was announced on November 1 in New Orleans at Acme Oyster House. Negotiations then continued to facilitate a memorandum of understanding to solidify the details.

Through negotiations with BP, Lt. Gov. Angelle was able to secure tourism funds for $5 million per quarter for six quarters, rather than the original distribution schedule or $10 million per year for three years. The new schedule will allow for a surge of funds if necessary to address impacts.

Consistent with BP’s requirements, the agreement will invest a total of $21 million (70%) into Louisiana’s coastal parishes and New Orleans for the purpose of tourism recovery. The parishes of St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche, and Terrebonne will each receive $2.166 million for a total of $13 million (43.34%). Additionally, the City of New Orleans will receive $6 million (20%) and the parishes of St. Mary, Iberia, Vermilion and Cameron will each receive $500,000 for a total of $2 million (6.66%). The remaining 53 parishes will split $2.5 million (8.33%) distributed using a tiered methodology based on proximity to coast and population.

The remaining $6.5 million (21.67%) will be used by the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (CRT) to plan and execute, in conjunction with the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association (LTPA), a marketing and advertising campaign branding Louisiana as a destination. A portion of CRT’s $6.5 million will also provide tourism event support. A breakdown of fund allocation by parish can be viewed here: http://www.crt.state.la.us/press/2010/Bp_Parish_Allocation_plan.pdf.

“In Louisiana, our tourism and our seafood are inextricably intertwined. The success of one determines the success of the other, and in Louisiana we would have it no other way,” said Lt. Gov. Angelle. “I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with BP on the distribution of these much-deserved tourism recovery funds. After over 100 days of negative visual coverage, the Louisiana tourism brand was tarnished. Potential vacationers canceled plans, restaurants stopped serving Louisiana seafood and the perception existed that our state was dirty and covered with oil. I believe that with these funds, Louisiana and its parishes can take the next step toward revitalizing our image to visitors.”

“This is a real step forward in our commitment to ensure seafood safety, both for our citizens and for the rest of the country. We are excited that BP has committed to funding seafood safety and monitoring programs so that we may continue to protect all those who enjoy Louisiana Gulf seafood,” said LDWF Secretary Barham. “We now also have the opportunity to fund seafood and tourism marketing, ensuring that we can begin the hard work to restore the image of Louisiana seafood and the places that serve it. Today marks the next phase in the recovery for our seafood industry and the communities along our coast, which are so integral to the character and identity of our state.”

“We’re very glad that a portion of the funding will go directly to Plaquemines Parish. We’ve said from the beginning that the parishes most affected by the oil spill are the ones who carry the burden, both in product sales and product marketing. We’re pleased that that money will soon flow to the impacted parishes, the ones who know best how to promote their area for seafood and tourism,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. “I was especially pleased to learn that Lt. Governor Angelle was able to negotiate a surge in funding from 36 months to 18 months. That will help us immensely.”

“No place in Louisiana has seen tourism evaporate like Grand Isle. We will work with Jefferson Parish and our regional partners to make Grand Isle a number one destination again,” added David Carmadelle, Mayor of Grand Isle.

“Out of adversity comes opportunity,” said Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board Chairman Harlon Pearce. “Thanks to the efforts of Lt. Governor Angelle, Secretary Barham and Governor Bobby Jindal’s staff we have the opportunity to create the future we want for Louisiana’s seafood industry. The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

“Both our tourism - particularly our world-class charter boat fishing - and seafood industries were devastated by the oil spill,” said Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph. “These funds will assist us in making great strides to revitalize those industries and make sure everyone knows that Lafourche Parish is still a great tourism destination.”

"One last piece of the puzzle that will make the Louisiana Seafood Community whole is the ability to return the perception of our seafood products in the marketplace to the high quality, fresh and available seafood products as it was prior to the spill,” said Mike Voison, member of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, and owner and CEO of Motivatit Seafood. “With BP's commitment to seafood marketing and safety dollars this should help to get us back to this point.”

“Since our coast was the hardest hit, both physically and economically, it makes sense to allocate most of the funds to Louisiana’s coastal areas,” said Paul Arrigo, CDME President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We appreciate the state’s efforts to allow the other parishes who were indirectly affected by the spill to share a portion of the tourism recovery funds.”

“On behalf of the parish leadership across the state, I agree that it is good public policy to include every parish in Louisiana in the tourism recovery fund allocation,” said Roland Dartez, Executive Director of the Louisiana Police Jury Association. “Given that tourism was adversely affected in all regions of the state, we are grateful for this opportunity that will aide in mending the unique brand of each individual parish.”

Seafood Safety, Monitoring and Marketing

Louisiana’s commercial fishing industry represents $2.4 billion annually and is responsible for supporting more than 26,000 jobs throughout the state. The BP oil spill kept waters off Louisiana’s coast closed throughout some of the seasons’ most productive moths.

Although 98.5 percent of the state’s waters have been re-opened to both commercial and recreational fishing, the industry has taken a hit. From January through August in 2010 compared to a four-year average (from 2006 to 2009) commercial shrimp landings were down 51 percent, crab landings were down 33 percent and oysters landings were down 35 percent.

The agreement signed today provides $18 million to LDWF for seafood safety testing and monitoring efforts in conjunction with the Louisiana departments of Environmental Quality, Health and Hospitals, and Agriculture and Forestry. This funding will allow Louisiana officials to continue to sample, monitor and test Louisiana seafood from the Gulf waters off its coast.

Since the spill began, more than 300,000 individual shrimp, crab, finfish and oysters have been tested at independent labs; none have been found to contain hydrocarbons at “levels of concern” established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

LDWF will also receive $30 million for the promotion of Louisiana Gulf seafood to be spent in conjunction with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board (LSPMB).

LDWF is still in negotiations with BP to secure funding for a saltwater hatchery and an oyster cultch program, which are crucial to the state’s recovery plan.

Tourism Funding

BP has agreed to the state’s request to compensate the losses in Louisiana’s tourism industry with $30 million in funding to help the industry get back on its feet. Under the agreement with BP, $30 million will be provided to the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (CRT) over three years to support the marketing of Louisiana as a tourist destination. This funding and the three-year commitment also would be reset upon any oiling that would trigger the closure of fishing areas.

The agreement will invest a total of $21 million (70%) into Louisiana’s coastal parishes for the purpose of tourism recovery. Additionally, $2.5 million (8%) will be distributed to the remaining parishes so that tourism damage can be mitigated using a decentralized approach. The remaining $6.5 million (21%) will be used by the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism to plan and execute, in conjunction with the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association (LTPA), a marketing and advertising campaign branding Louisiana as a destination. A portion of CRT’s $6.5 million will also provide tourism event support. The use of CRT’s funds will be approved through a plan submitted by the newly-elected Lt. Governor.

The $30 million will be invested in:

A Louisiana Tourism Campaign, including a focus on nature-based tourism - $10.5 million

The $10.5 million will be distributed to:

  • $5 million – Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism
  • $2.5 million – Six physically impacted parishes making up the Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition (LTCC)
    • St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Terrebonne, Lafourche Parishes 
    • $416,666,67 each
  • $500,000 – Four remaining coastal parishes comprising the LTCC
    • Iberia, St. Mary, Vermilion, Cameron
    • $125,000 each
  • $2.5 million – 53 remaining parishes

A Coastal Tourism Response - $6 million

The $6 million will be distributed to:

  • $4.5 million – Six physically impacted parishes making up the LTCC
    • St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Terrebonne, Lafourche Parishes
    • $750,000 each
  • $1.5 million - Four remaining coastal parishes comprising the LTCC
    • Iberia, St. Mary, Vermilion, Cameron
    • $375,000 each

Greater New Orleans Tourism Response - $6 million

Tourism Events - $7.5 million

The $7.5 million will be distributed to:

  • $6 million - Six physically impacted parishes making up the LTCC
    • St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Terrebonne, Lafourche Parishes
    • $1 million each
  • $1.5 million – Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism
    • Funds will be used for statewide tourism event support

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.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, please contact Olivia Watkins at LDWF at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov, or Anna Dearmon at the Office of the Lt. Governor at 225-252-3529 or adearmon@crt.state.la.us.
 

Last Weekend of Special Red Snapper Season in State and Federal Waters

Release Date: 11/19/2010

Special season was opened Oct. 1 when quota wasn’t met; season closes Sunday, Nov. 21

This weekend is the last chance for recreational anglers to enjoy a special red snapper season, which opened in state and federal waters on October 1, 2010. The special season was declared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) when it was determined the recreational quota for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico had not been met. This weekend, Friday through Sunday, marks the last chance anglers have to keep red snapper until the 2011 season opens on June 1.

The recreational quota for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico wasn’t met this summer due to extended closures of Gulf waters, both state and federal, necessitated by the BP oil spill. When the season was reopened, NOAA estimated that approximately 2.3 million pounds of the 3.4 million pound quota remained.

Recreational saltwater fishing in Louisiana accounts for $472.1 million in retail sales in Louisiana annually and more than 7,700 jobs. The total economic impact is approximately $757.1 million each year. However, the BP oil spill kept many recreational anglers dockside throughout the summer. This special season was a chance for sportsmen from across the Gulf coast to enjoy almost an extra two months of angling for red snapper.

All regulations established for recreational harvest of red snapper were in effect for this special season.

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.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, please contact Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.

2010-313

New Oyster Farming Technique Increases Productivity, Offers Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Release Date: 11/17/2010

A new oyster farming initiative has launched in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The goal of this effort, a collaboration between researchers from Louisiana State University and Auburn University, is industry adoption of off-bottom oyster culture to supplement the traditional harvest. Historically, oysters are grown on and harvested from reefs on the water bottom. In this new process, oysters are grown suspended in the water column.

Benefits of this new oyster farming technique include increased productivity; job creation; and continued production of a safe, sustainable domestic oyster supply, according to John Supan, Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter oyster specialist, and Bill Walton, Auburn University aquaculture and fisheries specialist. Off-bottom culture also protects oysters from predators, provides a means to reduce fouling, and allows complete harvests of planted oyster seed, a major advantage over traditional oyster harvesting.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is also working with researchers at Louisiana Sea Grant to support the off-bottom culture efforts. LDWF’s Fisheries Research Laboratory in Grand Isle, La., provides research and hatchery space to researchers from the Louisiana Sea Grant program. Department officials are also working local officials in Plaquemines Parish to develop plans for a facility, which would provide space for oyster spat, oysters in the larval stage, to develop before they are utilized by industry.

“This could be an important addition to a traditional coastal industry,” said Walton. “It’s clean, green and energy efficient. And, it provides business opportunities to those already in the oyster industry as well as other coastal residents.”

“Through proper planning, off-bottom culture can work in harmony with other water uses and users,” added Supan. “It can support both part- and full-time incomes, just like natural fisheries, but with greater control over the natural variability that dominates bottom harvesting.”

“Louisiana’s oyster fishery has been hit with major natural and man-made disasters in the last five years, and has grown wiser for it,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “We are thrilled that Louisiana Sea Grant and researchers at Auburn University have worked so diligently to develop new methods for safeguarding and developing our oyster reefs along the coast. Our Department is going to work side-by-side with the industry and researchers to help ensure the success of our oyster fishery.”

Although this program was developed prior to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the oil spill prompted increased interest in oyster farming.

“We have received more calls and questions about oyster farming in the last four months than we have combined over the prior 12 months,” said Walton. “The spill has created a window of opportunity where traditional oystermen are eager, even desperate, to find ways to get back to working on the water as soon as possible.”

“Catastrophe causes change,” added Supan. “The challenge is to direct change to improve conditions, not to settle for status quo. This project will attempt do just that.”

Both the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory on Dauphin Island, Ala., and the Sea Grant Bivalve Hatchery at the LDWF Marine Fisheries Research Laboratory on Grand Isle, La., will provide oyster seed for this tri-state project. Program funding is provided by the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.

A series of workshops are planned during 2011 and 2012, addressing issues such as appropriate culture systems, oyster seed stock, growing market-quality oysters, and developing practices and regulations in collaboration with state agencies. For more information, contact Supan at jsupan@lsu.edu or Walton at billwalton@auburn.edu.

Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at LSU, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 32 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.

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.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, please contact Roy Kron at Louisiana Sea Grant at (225) 578-6564 or rkron@lsu.edu or Olivia Watkins at LDWF at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov

2010-312

LDWF to Close Commercial Fishing of Small Coastal Sharks in La. Waters at 11:30 p.m., November 18

Release Date: 11/17/2010

NOAA predicts quota will be met; fishery will reopen until 2011 season

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will close the small coastal shark fishery in state waters at 11:30 p.m., November 18, 2010. LDWF Secretary Robert Barham signed the closure, which follows the November 2 closure issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The recreational season remains open.

Commercial fishermen began harvesting blacknose and non-blacknose small coastal sharks in Louisiana waters when the state’s shark fishery opened on July 1. The small coastal shark fishery includes the bonnethead shark, the Atlantic sharpnose, the blacknose and finetooth sharks.

While the federal small coastal shark season opened on June 1, LDWF keeps the state fishery closed to commercial shark harvest from April 1 to June 30 each year in order to protect shark pups and pupping females.

NOAA estimates the landings for small coastal sharks from Maine to Mexico to be 226,112 lb. The small coastal shark landings in Louisiana are extremely low annually.

The federal commercial season for small coastal sharks will remain closed until the start of the 2011 season, which is determined by NOAA, and opens 30 days after the opening date for the season is publicized in the federal register. LDWF will determine the 2011 state waters in conjunction with the federal season.

No personal shall purchase, barter, trade or exchange shark in excess of the designated trip limits, or from any person who does not possess a commercial state shark permit or federal commercial directed or incidental limited access or federal shark research permits, if applicable.

Vessels that possess a federal shark research permit may continue to operate under the permit’s conditions, including NOAA Fisheries observers aboard the vessel for the duration of the trip, until the federal shark research fishery quota is met.

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.louisiana.gov on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.

For more information, please contact Olivia Watkins at 225-610-8660 or owatkins@wlf.la.gov.

2010-311

St. Bernard Parish Man Arrested By L.D.W.F. Agents For Falsifying Commercial Fishing Information

Release Date: 11/15/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) arrested a St. Bernard Parish man on Nov. 15 for allegedly falsifying commercial fishing catch information submitted to the department.

Glenn J. Cascio Jr., 30, of Arabi, allegedly falsified 16 trip ticket documents dated from Jan. 1, 2010 through May 3, 2010 in order to file a claim with BP America due to the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Cascio was charged with three felonies for filing false public records, injuring public records and theft by fraud and was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. The trip tickets were filed with LDWF and represented 43,264 pounds of crab at a value of $38,570. According to the arrest warrant, Cascio stated that he received a total of $10,000 from BP America.

SIU agents, Lt. Jay Diez and Senior Agent Edward Ridgel, met with Cascio on Nov. 6 after receiving a complaint from the department's trip ticket section that Cascio did not possess a commercial fishing license during the timeframe specified on the trip tickets. According to the arrest warrant, Cascio admitted to not catching or selling any crab from Jan. 1 to May 3 and that he falsified the trip ticket information in order to file a claim with BP America.

If convicted, Cascio faces fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail with or without hard labor for each charge of falsifying and injuring public records. For the fraud charge, Cascio faces a fine up to $3,000 and up to 10 years in jail with or without hard labor.

LDWF routinely reviews every trip ticket received from the commercial fishing industry to ensure that the most accurate data are collected and properly reflect the important role the state of Louisiana plays in the production of seafood and the management of the state's seafood resources.

"We want to ensure our commercial fishermen and dealers are compensated fairly by using accurate trip ticket information," said Col. Winton Vidrine, head of LDWF's Enforcement Division. "We do not want to see commercial fishermen or dealers tempted to commit felony violations by falsifying trip ticket documents, which can damage the basis of having the best scientific information available to manage the seafood resources."

This is the fifth arrest made by LDWF agents in connection with allegedly falsifying commercial fishing information to receive compensations from BP America since August.

For more information, contact Adam Einck at 225-765-2465 or aeinck@wlf.la.gov. 

2010-309

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