LDWF News

LDWF News Release

Commission Modifies Rules on Commercial Harvest of Spotted Seatrout

Release Date: 09/02/2010

 

Today, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission modified the existing rules for the commercial harvest of spotted seatrout to extend the harvest season. This action was taken in an effort to remain consistent with legislation passed in the 2010 Regular Louisiana Legislative Session, which modified the season for the commercial harvest of spotted seatrout using a commercial rod and reel.  

The new rule states that the commercial season for the harvest of spotted seatrout shall remain open from the second day of January until the maximum annual quota, currently set at 1 million pounds, is reached, or on the date projected by the staff of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that the quota will be reached, or until sunset on Friday, December 31 of each year, whichever comes first.  Over the last decade, spotted seatrout harvest averaged just under 20,000 pounds annually.

With today’s action, the commercial harvest of spotted sea trout is prohibited within Louisiana waters west of the Mermentau River.

Public comments on the Notice of Intent will be accepted prior to November 5, 2010.  Comments should be submitted to Harry Blanchet, Fisheries Division, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA  70898-9000 , or via e-mail to:  hblanchet@wlf.la.gov.

For more information, contact Ashley Wethey at (225) 765-5113 or awethey@wlf.la.gov

2010-259

L.D.W.F. Agent Receives Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award

Release Date: 09/02/2010

L.D.W.F. Agent Receives Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award

The National Association of Safe Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) honoredLouisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division Sgt. Joseph Ortis with the Louisiana Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.  Ortis received the award today, Sept. 2 at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting in Baton Rouge.

Ortis, of Oscar, joined LDWF in 1990 and became an agent in 1997 and mainly patrols the False River during the boating season.  Ortis also previously earned the 2004 LDWF Agent of the Year award.

"Sgt. Ortis is a valuable asset to the department and patrols one of the most recreationally used bodies of water in Pointe Coupee, Lafayette, St. Landry and West Baton Rouge parishes," said Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, LDWF's State Boating Law Administrator.  "This award is well deserved and reflects Sgt. Ortis' dedication to safe boating and waterway enforcement."

Ortis has attended both the Level One and Advanced Boating Accident Investigation Courses offered by NASBLA and has effectively utilized the knowledge and skills gained by his attendance in recent boating crash incidents.  Ortis also instructs boating safety classes and public boating safety forums.

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

2010-260 

First Tour Du Teche Canoe Race to be Held Sept. 17-19

Release Date: 09/02/2010

 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division hasapproved a marine event permit for the upcoming Tour du Teche canoe race from Sept. 17-19.

The 130-mile race on Bayou Techewill begin at Port Barre on Sept. 17 at 8 a.m. with a finish line at Patterson.  There will be a 60-hour cutoff to finish this inaugural race.

To register for the race and more information on fees, the mandatory meeting on Sept. 16 and rules, please visit www.techeproject.com/tour-du-teche.html.

The Tour du Teche is a part of the Teach Ecology, Culture and History Education (TECHE) Project that originated in Summer 2009 in St. Landry Parish.  The project aims to make Bayou Teche a healthier waterway for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, tubing and swimming.

"The department was happy to issue a marine event permit for the inaugural Tour du Teche canoe race since it corresponds with the department's mission to conserve and protect the state's natural resources and met the permit approval guidelines," said Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne.  "We hope this canoe race really catches on and helps improve the recreational and aesthetic qualities of the Bayou Teche watershed in the future."

The department issues marine event permits for any organized event held on the water that introduces extra or unusual safety hazards on navigable waterways.  Permit forms can be found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/permits and must be turned in to the department at least 30 days prior to any event.

According to the Teche Project Web site, "One goal of the TECHE Project and Tour du Teche is to educate people about water quality and the need for nonpoint source pollution prevention and reduction.  Discovery can take place with an interactive, hands-on experience on and along Bayou Teche.  Tour du Teche will work with the National Park Service, parishes and towns to identify public access needs and help implement improvement activities.  Education kiosks will be built to provide self-directed education to boaters and paddlers about water quality, preventing non-point source pollution, native flora and birds, culture, history as well as boater safety information for children and adults."

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

2010-261

FDA and NOAA Agree with LDWF on Sampling in Closed Fishing Areas East of the Mississippi River

Release Date: 09/01/2010

 

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) concurred with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' (LDWF) request to begin the process to re-open state waters to commercial fishing currently closed east of the Mississippi Delta, including the Chandeleur Islands.  These areas were originally closed due to confirmed reports of oil suspected to be from the Deepwater Horizon incident.  This marks the first federal testing to take place on seafood in these waters since the state issued the emergency closures.  Once samples from these areas are determined to be safe of all hydrocarbons and dispersant substance, LDWF Secretary Robert Barham intends to order immediate openings to commercial fishing in these areas.  

 Currently, LDWF fisheries biologists are collecting thousands of specimens of crab, shrimp and finfish in these areas to submit to FDA and NOAA for sensory testing and chemical analysis.  Once these samples are processed, the FDA will render their decision on the reopening.  
 
"Once this opening is complete it will leave only eight percent of state waters closed to commercial fishing," said Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.  "The state will not rest until all areas are open including federal waters off Louisiana's coast."  

LDWF guidelines for re-opening commercial fishing areas are as follows: 

Once visible signs of oil are no longer apparent in waters previously closed by LDWF to commercial fishing, LDWF will submit an 'intent to reopen' letter to NOAA and FDA.
 
LDWF biologists then conduct thorough sampling of finfish, crabs and shrimp in the proposed reopening area.

Following the collection of the samples, biologists will immediately transfer specimens to be tested by the FDA and NOAA for signs of chemical contamination.  
 
Once the analysis is complete FDA and NOAA will render an opinion regarding the proposed reopening. The entire process is expected to be completed in 14 days.

 For more information contact Marianne Burke at mburke@wlf.la.gov or 225-765-2917.

2010-258

17 Men Plead Guilty To Shrimp Violations On Sabine N.W.R.

Release Date: 08/31/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division's Special Operations Unit in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) federally charged 17 individuals on May 6 for shrimp violations on the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Cameron Parish.

USFWS agents served notices to appear before the U.S. Magistrate in Lake Charles to Lee Allen Greene, 29, Jimmy Constance Jr., 48, Jimmy Constance III, 29, and Gary Fountaine Jr., 34, all of Hackberry; Dustin Craig Moore, 18, Joseph Harrison Mott Jr., 40, Joseph Eugene McManus, 38, Billy Joe Meche, 32, Kenneth Erick Meche, 39, Brandon Joseph Breaux, 29, James Michael Williams, 22, Clint Lee Mott, 26, Shannon Kyle Fuselier, 46, John Joseph McKay Jr., 42, Kenny Edward Kellum Jr., 30, and David Wayne Brooks, 57, all of Sulphur; and Steven Hollie, 50, of Starks.

LDWF undercover agents initiated the investigation in September, 2009 after receiving numerous complaints from commercial and recreational fishermen of individuals catching large amounts of shrimp with cast nets on the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge and selling the catch commercially. The Sabine NWR has a limit of one five-gallon bucket of shrimp per vehicle or vessel and the commercialization of the shrimp is prohibited.

LDWF undercover agents observed the suspects catching over the legal limit of shrimp and they were then able to conduct an operation designed to purchase the illegal shrimp from the suspects both on and off of the refuge. LDWF undercover agents purchased in excess of 550 pounds of shrimp from the suspects during the investigation.

The suspects were served with notices to appear before the U.S. Magistrate for illegal commercialization on a federal refuge, possessing over the limit of shrimp, failure to maintain custody of shrimp and trespassing.

At an arraignment in Lake Charles Federal District Court on May 27, 2010, the following pled guilty to shrimp violations and were given the following penalties: Joseph McManus was fined $1,180 and banned from the refuge for two years; Dustin Moore was fined $520; Kenneth Meche was fined $520; Kenny Kellum Jr. $360; Lee Allen Greene was sentenced to 10 days in the Cameron Parish Jail; James Williams was fined $560; David Brooks was fined $575; Jimmy Constance lll was fined $1,805 and banned from entering any NWR for three years; Joseph Mott ll was fined $1,370 and banned from entering any NWR for five years; Gary Fountain Jr. was fined $670 and banned from entering any NWR for five years; Shanon Fuselier was fined $2,775, banned from entering any NWR for five years and placed on supervised probation for one year; and Jimmy Constance Jr. was fined $1,170.

Due to pre-sentencing investigations, sentencing and trial were held in Lake Charles Federal District Court on Aug. 19. The following pled guilty to shrimp violations and were given the following penalties: John McCay Jr. was sentenced to five years unsupervised probation at which time he is banned from entering any NWR or participating in any hunting or fishing activities and fined $870; Billy Joe Meche was sentenced to five years unsupervised probation at which time he is prohibited from entering any NWR or participating in any hunting or fishing activities and fined $895; Steven Hollie was fined $2,420 and placed on unsupervised probation for one year, during which time he is prohibited from entering any NWR or participating in any hunting or fishing activities; Clint Mott was fined $3,730 and placed on unsupervised probation for 13 months, during which time he is prohibited from entering any NWR or participating in any hunting or fishing activities.

Brandon “BJ” Breaux will be sentenced on Oct. 21, 2010.

In addition to the undercover LDWF agents the following federal refuge agents participated in the case, John Branum, Brad Rabalais, Scotty Boudreaux and Sidney Charbonnet.

For more information, contact Capt. Cliff Comeaux of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at 225-765-2980 or cjcomeaux@wlf.la.gov.

2010-E50

Birds Saved from Deepwater Horizon Oil Impacts Released at Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area

Release Date: 08/27/2010

State and federal biologists today released another 79 birds rehabilitated after rescue from oil impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill along the Louisiana coast.

Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in St. Mary Parish was selected by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as the release site due to its location and high quality habitat for the species involved.

"LDWF's coastal wildlife refuges and management areas provide thousands of acres of habitat not affected by the oil spill," said Robert Barham, LDWF secretary. "It is an encouraging sign for the wildlife recovery process to see more birds released each week."

The birds released today, which were treated at the Hammond Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, included gulls, herons, rails, roseate spoonbills and terns. To date, 978 birds have been treated and released in Louisiana as part of the massive wildlife rescue and recovery effort.

Atchafalaya Delta WMA in coastal St. Mary Parish includes 137,695 acres at the mouths of the Atchafalaya River and the Wax Lake Outlet. The WMA is managed by LDWF's Coastal and Non-game Resources Division.

To report oiled wildlife, call 1-866-557-1401 with date, time and location information. For a complete report on wildlife rescue and recovery numbers along the Gulf Coast during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, go tohttp://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doctype/2931/55963.

For more information related to the oil spill, visithttp://www.emergency.louisiana.gov. Connect with us onwww.facebook.com/GOHSEP and on Twitter as @GOHSEP. View photos from the state's response efforts at http://www.flickr.com/photos/lagohsep.

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

2010-257

Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit Appeals Board to Meet

Release Date: 08/25/2010

The Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit Appeals Board will meet on Friday, August 27, 2010. The meeting will convene at 10:30 a.m. in Suite 200 of the University of New Orleans Advanced Technology Center located at 2021 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans.

Agenda items for the meeting of the Public Oyster Seed Ground

Vessel Permit Appeals Board are as follows:
1. Approval of Minutes From July 27, 2010 Meeting
2. Hearing of Previously-Deferred Appeals
 a. Donald Joost
 b. Tonci Gabre
 c. Lawrence Peterson
3. Set next meeting date
4. Adjourn

This Board was established by Act 922 of the 2008 Regular Legislative Session for the purpose of hearing appeals of vessel permit denials by LDWF. Act 922 requires that anyone commercially harvesting oysters on the public oyster seed grounds and reservations, except Calcasieu Lake and Sabine Lake, must do so from a vessel holding a public oyster seed ground vessel permit issued by LDWF and no new applications for such vessel permits shall be accepted after December 31, 2009.

For more information, please contact Ty Lindsey at 225-765-2387 or tlindsey@wlf.la.gov.

2010-255

Agenda Announced for Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Commission September Meeting

Release Date: 08/25/2010

The next regular Commission Meeting will be held at 9:30 AM on Thursday, September 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 July 14, 2010 and August 5, 2010

3. Commission Special Announcements/Personal Privilege

4. To receive and hear check presentation to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation

5. To receive and hear Update on Oil Spill and Current Response Efforts

6. To receive and hear Presentation of Boating Law Enforcement Office of the Year

7. To receive and hear Enforcement & Aviation Reports/August

8. To receive and hear Update on Whooping Crane Reintroduction Proposal

9. To receive and hear Office of Wildlife Oil Spill Presentation

10. To receive and consider Declaration of Emergency and Notice of Intent on Fisheries Closures due to Oil Spill

11. To receive and consider Notice of Intent to Adopt Gear Regulations for Lafourche Lake in Caldwell Parish

12. To receive and consider a Notice of Intent to modify the rule for Commercial Harvest of Spotted Seatrout - Commercial Season and Places

13. To receive and consider a Notice of Intent to Amend Oyster Survey Rules as a Result of Act 392 of the 2010 Regular Session

14. Set January 2011 Meeting Date

15. Receive Public Comments

16. Adjournment

2010-256

JEFFERSON PARISH MEN CITED FOR OVERLIMIT BASS

Release Date: 08/24/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents cited two Jefferson parish men on Aug. 21 for allegedly possessing over the legal limit of bass in St. Charles Parish.

The agents were conducting surveillance near Lake Cataouatche in St. Charles Parish when they observed Elvin J. Rome, 53, of Marrero, and Richard Doucet, 52, of Westwego, rapidly catching fish. The agents continued surveillance until the subjects stopped fishing and followed them to a camp.

When the agents contacted the subjects, they discovered 92 black bass in their possession. The daily limit for largemouth bass is 10 per person.

The penalty for over the limit of black bass is a fine up to $350, or jail time up to 30 days, or both plus court costs. A court order restitution for the value of the illegally taken fish will also be filed with the case. The fish were seized and later donated to a local charity.

Agents involved in the investigation were Sgt. Ray Champagne, Senior Agent Tim Fox and Agent Terry Hicks.

For more information, contact Capt. Stephen McManus at 504-284-2023 or smcmanus@wlf.la.gov.
2010-E49  

Pearl River Man Cited for Second Offense D.W.I. in Lake Pontchartrain

Release Date: 08/24/2010

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents arrested a Pearl River man for allegedly driving a motorboat while under the influence (DWI) of alcohol on Aug. 21 in St. Tammany Parish.

LDWF Agents Austin Arteaga and Jared McIver were on patrol in Lake Pontchartrain near the Interstate 10 twin span when they observed a vessel driven by Kip E. Asmos traveling northbound towards Eden Isles. Agents Arteaga and McIver made contact with the vessel and performed a boating safety inspection. The agents observed Asmos drinking a beer and a five-gallon bucket full of empty beer cans in the boat.

Agents conducted a field sobriety test and after further questioning placed Asmos under arrest and transported him to the St. Tammany Parish Jail for second offense DWI.

The penalty for second offense DWI is a fine between $750 and $1,000, and imprisonment between 30 days and six months.

Agents participating in the case were Senior Agent Austin Arteaga and Sgt. Jared McIver.

For more information, contact Capt. Steve McManus at 504-284-2023 or smcmanus@wlf.la.gov.
2010-E48  

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