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,  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,  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.  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.