Louisiana Menhaden Buffer NOI

ASGA submitted an official comment on the proposed Notice of Intent (NOI) for a new coastal buffer zone for menhaden operations off the coast of Louisiana. You can read the official comment below:


Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Wildlife and Fisheries Commission

Menhaden Season (LAC 76:VII.307)

Thank you for the consideration of The American Saltwater Guides Association’s comments on the Notice of Intent, Menhaden Season (LAC 76: VII. 307). ASGA is a coalition of fishing guides, small-fishing related businesses, and conservation-minded private recreational anglers who believe in the idea of “better business through marine conservation.” Our leadership has over a decade of experience with menhaden management on two coasts. ASGA’s leadership was integral in shifting management on the East Coast to Ecological Reference Points (ERP’s) which takes into consideration menhaden’s role in the resource, not just a single species harvest model of management. 

ASGA is supportive of this NOI. The proper use of purse seines is critical. If the depth of the water is less than the wall of the net, non-targeted species can not escape the purse from the bottom. This unnecessarily adds to bycatch and potentially damages bottom habitat.  Extending the coast wide buffer from a quarter of a mile to a mile is a good step forward. While this doesn’t solve the depth issue, it is an acknowledgement that this fishery should not operate in shallow waters.  

We strongly support the changes to the reporting requirements on unintentional or intentional release of purse seine gear.  The two-hour reporting timeline is reasonable and should not present a burden.  The addition of “photographic or video documentation of sufficient resolution to clearly depict the scope and composition of release” will enable managers to understand the magnitude of the event as well as a baseline for understanding the scope of the waste.  

We applaud the managers for the language that holds the menhaden fishery accountable for net releases and failure to retrieve gear within 48 hours. Resource waste and commercial littering violations give the state the ability to better manage this fishery. This language will result in menhaden captains being more risk averse in setting gear and targeting schools of menhaden.  

We want to be clear that these proposed changes will not recover the redfish population. The changes will benefit the resource and that is our concern. To rebuild redfish, the recreational sector must take necessary harvest reductions. Blaming the menhaden fishery for our own overharvest is disingenuous and counterproductive to progress. We must all work together to restore this iconic species.  This NOI does hold the menhaden fishery accountable for their impact. Now, we must address the recreational impact as well. 

ASGA would like to thank the Wildlife and Fishery Commission for their leadership as well as the staff at Louisiana Division of Wildlife and Fisheries for their steadfast commitment to healthy resources.  


The American Saltwater Guides Association

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