Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.
“My experience is in sitting down at the table and working through problems, that is what I have always brought,” Melancon said. “Whether it’s dating or a marriage or a political relationship, and that is what I have always brought, sitting down and compromising and finding common ground.”
Melancon replaces Robert Barham, who ran the agency during of former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s terms, and was seen generally as more sensitive to the sport-fishing industry.
During his years in Congress, Melancon worked closely with commercial fishermen, particularly during their quest, along with processors, to win tariffs against imported shrimp.
“Some people have said they don’t know how someone who is not from the coast can relate to commercial fishing issues,” said Kimberly Chauvin, who owns shrimp boats and docks in Terrebonne Parish, La., mostly in the fishing community of Dulac. “But he always worked well with us. He knows farming, and there are a lot of similarities between farmers and fishermen.”