Baton Rouge, LA – Following this week’s impasse in the Louisiana legislature to create a meaningful buffer zone to protect Louisiana’s coast by adopting H.B. 535, local conservation chapters expressed their disappointment at the outcome:
Representative Joe Orgeron, District 54, sponsor of H.B. 535, stated:
“I am proud to have carried H.B. 535 this far and grateful to my colleagues in the House and many allied Senators for their support. While we were unsuccessful this session, I remain committed to seeing this legislation and common-sense conservation measures through until the end that protects both our recreational and commercial fisheries. It’s clear there needs to be updated regulation of menhaden fishing and I will keep up the fight for our coastal communities.”
David Cresson, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation Commission of Louisiana, stated:
“The half-mile buffer proposed in HB 535 was a compromise following last year’s attempt to establish a one-mile exclusion zone aimed to protect Louisiana’s ecologically diverse shoreline. It is disappointing that the Governor’s Office and a very small handful of Senators blocked this meaningful way to conserve our coast while also protecting jobs – a priority supported by the vast majority of the legislature. It is clear that Rep. Orgeron is a strong advocate for our coasts and everyone within our communities and is not going to compromise on consensus legislation.”
“We are thankful for Rep. Orgeron’s hard work to collect input and develop this compromising piece of legislation. With overwhelming support from the House, Rep. Orgeron’s bill would have allowed the commercial Menhaden industry, the conservation community, and the sportfishing industry to coexist, all the while setting forth necessary environmental protections that would ensure a sustainable future for Louisiana’s coastline.”
Chris Macaluso, Director, Center for Marine Fisheries for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership stated:
“Unfortunately, a handful of misguided Louisiana lawmakers undermined the will of the overwhelming majority of Louisiana residents and legislators seeking reasonable conservation through HB 535. All who care about Louisiana’s beaches, barrier islands and fisheries are thankful for Representative Orgeron’s leadership and the help we received from many other coastal lawmakers who put the needs of our state ahead of those of foreign-owned pogie reduction companies. The concerns about the damage being caused to Louisiana’s surf zones by these foreign-owned companies are only going to increase.
“There is a reason why every other coastal state has safeguards in place to protect their shorelines against the abuse of commercial pogie fishing. The proposed half-mile buffer zone was a substantial compromise from the one-mile proposed last year. TRCP, CCA and our coalition partners will continue to champion this issue until we get the necessary protections in place for our coastal ecosystems, fisheries and coastal communities.”
Brent Newman, Senior Policy Director of Audubon Delta stated:
“We believe that Representative Orgeron struck a fair balance with HB 535, taking into consideration the impacts of industry practice while protecting recreational fisheries, bird habitat, and our coast. With these proposed common-sense regulations, Louisiana would still be the least restrictive state with regards to a buffer zone, which should not unduly burden the industry. The legislature is charged to balance the interests of all Louisianans, and a fishery that is regulated with an ecosystem-based approach would provide benefits to marine life, coastal resilience, and economic opportunity.”
Kellie Ralston, Southeast Fisheries Policy Director for the American Sportfishing Association stated:
“Louisiana’s 1.1 million anglers contribute more than $3 billion dollars to the state’s economy and support almost 23,000 jobs. The continued success of sportfishing in the state depends on plentiful forage fish populations, like menhaden, and suitable habitats for sustainable fish populations. The American Sportfishing Association is grateful for the efforts of Representative Joe Orgeron to establish meaningful coastal buffers for commercial menhaden harvest to protect the state’s iconic fisheries and the places they live. We are disappointed that the Louisiana Legislature was unable to come to an agreement on a minimum ½ mile coastal harvest buffer this session, but recognizing how important this buffer is to our fisheries, we will continue to work towards that goal.”
About CCA Louisiana
In its 38th year, CCA Louisiana is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the state. With more than 30,000 members and volunteers in 30 local chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. Visit www.CCALouisiana.com for more information.