Commercial fishermen frustrated as all recreational areas reopen in LA

Print
Email
|

by Scott Satchfield

wwltv.com

Posted on August 21, 2010 at 11:11 AM

It was an upbeat mood at the Rigolets Friday afternoon a few hours after state officials announced the reopening of all Louisiana waters to recreational fishing, folks geared up to test their luck.
 
"Well that's absolutely great, because I've been waiting on my son to call me and say, 'Hey dad, let's go fishing.' And he did today. So, here I am," said Ennis Johnson, a sport fisherman from Pass Christian, MS.
 
But while it's a free for all for recreational fishermen, things are still on hold for many commercial fishing zones, which was a point of contention in Baton Rouge Friday as officials hammered out their decision.
 
Daniel Babin, a shrimp processor, suggested the move could become a setback for the national perception of Louisiana seafood.
 
Either it’s safe to eat, he said, or it’s not.
 
"What kind of signal is that going to send when that news media is going to have in the background people cleaning up the beach and somebody in the background throwing a rod and reel,” Babin said. “What does that look like for the state of Louisiana."
 
Others applaud the move saying it's time to help fishing businesses like marinas and bait shops by getting recreational fishers back to doing what they love.
 
"I just don't see what this has to do with me sitting out on a beach in front of Empire catching a speckled trout with a rod and reel," one fisherman said.
 
For commercial fishermen like Pete Gerica though, the wait continues.
 
He makes a living crabbing and shrimping mostly in Lake Borgne, but his primary zones remain off limits.
 
"We ain't seen the first amount of oil over here,” Gerica said. “I mean, we have not seen none in this area. I have friends of mine that's working for over 52 days with BP, working the Breton Sound area coming in. They haven't seen oil in 50 days."
 
Gerica is hoping for a speed up in the FDA's seafood testing process - something he believes is possible.
 
"I helped (the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals) take samples after Katrina. We got results back in within two weeks," he said."I mean, because right now, things are moving so slow. It's not moving at the speed of business. It's moving at the speed of government, and it's just too slow for us."
 
State Wildlife and Fisheries officials say several guidelines must be met for the re-opening of more commercial areas.
           
Once visible signs of oil are no longer found in the zones, state officials will submit an "intent to reopen" to NOAA and the FDA.
           
Meanwhile, the testing of samples continues.

Print
Email
|