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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Geaux Fish is more than just a child's card game at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas on the New Orleans riverfront.

It's a new interactive exhibit giving visitors a hands-on opportunity to learn about Louisiana's fishing industry.

'We are really kind of the bread-basket, the seafood-basket if you will, for the Gulf Coast and really for the nation,' said Aquarium Director of Animal Husbandry Rich Toth.

Toth said he wants visitors to get a better appreciation of where and how their seafood is raised and harvested.

'I think the challenges are balancing our uses of the resources and making sure there's enough there for generations to come,' said Toth. 'That's a big part of what we're trying to showcase here.'

Just this week, Louisiana closed an area of the Gulf of Mexico to commercial fishing because tar mats were located in the area.

WWL-TV Fish and Game expert Don Dubuc said while the local fisheries are generally healthy, you can never do enough testing, especially in the wake of the BP oil spill.

'If you're going to make a mistake, let's make it on the side of caution,' said Dubuc. 'Close things down. Continue the research and the testing and hopefully things will remain the same.'

The pop-up exhibits and many local fish on display teach visitors why protecting the environment is so important.

'I think it's great for the kids to learn about their local environment, protecting the environment and to learn about the fish that live here, that feed us and the country,' said visitor Don Costello. 'I think my kids enjoy most looking at what they see at the supermarket all the time and then getting to see the real thing swimming in the water.'

'It might open kids eyes up to other fields to go into education-wise like oceanography and things like that, too,' said visitor Brandi Blum.

Geaux Fish also showcases some of the things the Audubon Institute is doing to help improve the fisheries.

'We do some tagging studies to monitor the populations and we're doing some fisheries improvement programs with our Gulf initiative,' said Toth.

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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