Contact: Mark Lance, Southeastern States Coordinator
Why it Matters: Menhaden are an important forage food for many recreationally important species in Louisiana such as redfish, speckled trout, and southern flounder, among others. The commercial menhaden harvest also results in tens of millions of pounds of non-target species bycatch annually. HB 535 will enhance the conservation of Louisiana’s inshore and nearshore game fish species and subsequently benefit anglers in “Sportsman’s Paradise.”
Menhaden, also known as pogies, are filter feeding members of the herring family and are integral members of coastal food webs for several game and non-game fish species, mammals, and birds. Menhaden are also commercially harvested to be used as animal feed, bait, and fertilizers, among other uses.
Louisiana’s recreational anglers have continually expressed concerns about the proximity of industrial purse seines, used in the commercial harvest of menhaden, near shorelines and beaches because of the incidental bycatch of non-target species as well as the threat of continued damage to Louisiana’s shallow water bottom substrates by large commercial fishing vessels. The establishment of a half-mile buffer zone from the shoreline would also reduce potential conflicts between the commercial and recreational angler boats.
In 2020, Louisiana generated $11.90 million in fishing licenses alone. Sportsmen and women from across the country travel to Louisiana to experience its world class fisheries. HB 535 would help to promote positive angling experiences, limit the bycatch on non-target fish species, and help protect against the degradation of coastal ecosystems. The bill does not reduce the menhaden quota available for harvest and will not result in a significant negative economic impact to the commercial menhaden fishery.
CSF will continue to work with in-state and national partners to advance HB 535 to help conserve recreational fisheries that are culturally and economically important to Louisiana.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?