Sustainable Fisheries

Some of you may remember the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” and perhaps the famous quote “If you build it, he will come.” Meant as motivation to build a baseball diamond in a corn field, the line encourages dreaming big and following your passion. It can also apply directly to environmental protection and restoration. CWPPRA builds wetlands, and ecologically diverse communities come. They may take a long time, but they will come. Creating a resilient environment requires hard work, and the environment will return on investment many times over.

Biodiversity has a massive positive effect on the productivity of a system, [2] and we in Louisiana have some of the most productive wetland ecosystems in the United States. Coastal fisheries today produce about 40% of the world’s wild-caught seafood, according to the WWF, [1] and wild-caught fish rely heavily on a healthy ecosystem to produce populations large enough to harvest.  Unfortunately, many fish communities are over- exploited and have a lot of bycatch, causing  species declines and shifts in the health of the community. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Sustainable fishing is an achievable goal.

By using our bountiful resources and productive wetlands, we can cultivate thriving ecosystems that don’t need much maintenance at all. A perfect model would require no feed, no destructive fishing methods like trawling or wasteful bycatch, and it would have numerous benefits to wetland health such as better nutrient capture, pollutant filtration, food production, biodiversity, and even improved resilience. [3]  Such a complex problem cannot be solved overnight, but focusing on the health of our fisheries will drive them to be more sustainable, and sustainable fisheries will keep our critical $2.4B seafood industry alive. Our coastal zone is a great asset that provides us with plentiful resources, and we have a responsibility to use those resources, such as the fisheries, in a sustainable manner. Programs like CWPPRA emphasize the benefits of sustainability on a large scale and seek to apply those practices in their restoration projects.

 

[1] http://wwf.panda.org/our_work/oceans/solutions/sustainable_fisheries/

[2] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/314/5800/787

[3] https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_how_i_fell_in_love_with_a_fish?language=en

Featured image from https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-deepwater-aquaculture-avoid-the-pitfalls-of-coastal-fish-farms

 

 

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Moving Forward: The Louisiana Fishing Industry

Fishing has been a part of Louisiana life since the earliest inhabitants settled the area. Settlers hunted and fished in the abundant water bodies of Louisiana for survival. – In today’s society, Louisiana fisheries have evolved into powerhouse contributors to the economic well-being of the state of Louisiana and the nation.

The commercialization of Louisiana’s fishing industry occurred during the antebellum era between 1812 and 1860 as New Orleans became one North America’s boom towns [2]. Today, Louisiana fisheries are just as important to the people and state. Thanks to federal, state, and local programs, Louisiana’s traditional fishermen still have the ability to provide quality seafood and recreation.

Today, Louisiana fisheries are just as important to the people and state as it was then. Thanks to federal, state, and localized programs Louisiana traditional fisherman still have the ability to provide quality seafood and recreation.

Quick Facts about the Louisiana Seafood Industry [3]:

  • The second-largest seafood supplier in the United States
  • 1 out of 70 Louisiana jobs are related to the seafood industry
  • One third of all the seafood consumed in the U.S. is from Louisiana
  • Shrimp accounts for $1.3 Billion for Louisiana
  • Oyster fishing accounts for $317 Million annually
  • Crab accounts for $293 Million annually
  • Crawfish accounts for $120 Million annually
  • Estimated economic impact of $2.4 Billion annually

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Almost 70 percent of the seafood harvested off the Gulf Coast is consumed by Louisianans. Today, Louisiana has numerous programs that help keep the seafood industry successful, sustainable, and environmentally-minded. Programs like Louisiana Fisheries Forward, funded by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and Sea Grant, provide guidance for Louisiana fishermen, harvesters, docks, and processors [3]. Their website provides access to a digital library on best practices in the commercial fishing industry (videos, regulation guidelines, safety, responsible fishing, sustainability and business basics). Another program, the Lafourche-Terrebonne Direct Seafood Program was launched to help increase fishermen income and support social interactions with the public. Funded by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, the program assists locals and visitors in purchasing fresh local seafood directly from the fishers online or with a smart phone [4].

Research by university scientists and fisheries resource managers focuses on the challenging issues affecting our coast and fisheries [3]. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Louisiana Sea Grant apply specific research initiatives to support sustainable and healthy practices to the fishing industry. For example, current research on finding a sulfite-free alternative that effectively treats black spot in shrimp will allow dealers and processors to use ‘chem-free’ labeling [3].

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Black-spot in shrimp is a harmless discoloration in shrimp caused by a system of enzymes that are naturally present in shrimp [1]. This discoloration can increase when exposed to air for too long, and deters consumers from purchasing shrimp as their color darkens [1]. Traditionally, sodium sulfites were used in preventing black spot in shrimp ,but its known now that a small population of people are allergic to sodium sulfites [1]. Research by the Louisiana Sea Grant & LSU AgCenter provides an alternative enzyme-based product to prevent black spot in shrimp. This alternative increases the marketing ability for fisheries and safety for those allergic to sulfites [1].

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Advanced mapping systems by zone and seafood type can be pulled from the  Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries website and sorted by recreational and commercial fishing.

The CWPPRA Watermarks Issue #55 notes,  “For over 50 years, almost every document addressing Louisiana’s land loss, mentions ‘wetlands and the fish dependent thereon” [5]. CWPPRA uses a Wetland Value Assessment (WVA) to determine quality and quantity of fish and wildlife habitat. Together, groups like the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries along with CWPPRA are working together to restore coastal Louisiana where people and wildlife  have lived for generations.

 

Continue reading “Moving Forward: The Louisiana Fishing Industry”

Families Learn about the Importance of Wetlands

Families enjoying a Saturday adventure together on March 11th had the chance to explore different aspects of the ecosystems around them, including ways that wetlands help them and native wildlife. Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration staff exhibited materials and games at the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center as part of 2017 Family Adventure Day to benefit the non-profit Healing House in Lafayette, LA. This annual event sends families to different locations throughout Lafayette for experiences that range from face painting to coming face-to- face with a snake.

Over 250 people stopped by the Center where they had the opportunity to see a demonstration of how coastal wetlands protect interior communities and wildlife habitat from storm surge. Visitors could pick up recent issues of WaterMarks and other materials on wetlands restoration projects in coastal Louisiana. Kids also received Henri Heron’s activity book and helped match Louisiana wildlife with the wetland habitat they need to survive.

Other exhibitors, including US Fish & Wildlife Service and Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries, focused on topics like bat conservation, beekeeping, endangered species in Louisiana, and fishing. Helping families understand and appreciate the diversity of natural environments in Louisiana helps ensure that those environments will be present in the future.

Wetland Nurseries

Did you know:

Wetlands provide a critical nursery for many of the Gulf of Mexico commercial fishery species.

One of the most significant fishery industries in the lower 48 states is the Gulf Coast fishery. Louisiana wetlands, particularly coastal marshes, play an imperative role in the life cycle of about 90% of Gulf marine species such as oysters, blue crabs, and shrimp. Providing a protective nursery, wetlands house an immensely diverse quantity of species that rely upon this habitat such as blue crabs, menhaden, and redfish. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act aims to continue the protection and restoration, and health of these essential habitats for wildlife, aquaculture, and fisheries.

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