National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Louisiana's commercial fishing industry must be building up some serious karma points.

Since 2005, Hurricane Katrina and other storms wreaked havoc on the Pelican State's fishing industry. But it somehow managed to slowly pick itself up again.

Then last year, the Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded off Louisiana, releasing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, idling fishing once more. Yet despite the massive oil spill and its accompanying frustrations, Louisiana keeps putting one foot in front of the other, trying to get back to business.

Now, the state's oyster industry faces another hurdle courtesy of the swollen Mississippi River. According to the Associated Press, the Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to release freshwater from the Bonnet Carre Spillway to protect people, homes and businesses situated along the Mississippi. The Corps may also open the Morganza Spillway located some 35 miles northwest of Baton Rouge.

Doing so will divert water out of the Mississippi and relieve pressure on the river's levees. Unfortunately, the influx of freshwater into Louisiana oyster beds could also cause significant mortalities. Oysters prefer saltier waters.

Should a significant number of oysters perish, Nicholls State University biology professor Earl Melancon Jr. told the AP, recovery of Louisiana's oyster industry from the oil spill could be set back a year.

"It's Mother Nature giving us another blow after what BP did last year," Melancon told the AP. "That's dramatic for these oystermen."

Louisiana's commercial fishing industry members have been living for months in "survival mode" as one oyster company owner put it. Seems like now would be as good a time as any for the fates to start reimbursing them for all the karma points they've built up.

Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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