Outdoor Journal

HBO Documentary Tracks Pelican Rescue Mission During Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response

Louisiana Departmentof Wildlifeand Fisheries’ (LDWF) biologists and technicians were on the front line of wildlife rescue a year ago in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster.

Bird rescue was a primary mission of LDWF’s Coastaland Nongame Resources Division, and one of the birds rescued, rehabilitated, and then returned to Louisiana’s coastal marshes was a brown pelican, tagged number 895 when recovered from oiled state waters last July. The story of that bird was documented by HBO and is now an HBO documentary film, SAVING PELICAN 895, which premiered April 20, the anniversary of the rig explosion.

“It’s a remarkable story detailing the efforts of government agencies, conservationists, and wildlife activists joining together to preserve fragile species impacted by oil,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “The significanceof that effort is even more special since the brown pelican, our state bird, had just been removed from the federal Threatened and Endangered Species list in 2009.”

The film, produced and directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky,provides a detailed look at one facet of what went on over the course of many months to overcome the threat of oil to the state’s coastal marsh ecosystem.

HBO Airdates (all times Central)

  • APRIL 29 @ 5:45AM
  • APRIL 30 @ 4:35AM
  • MAY 5 @ 1:00PM
  • MAY 8 @ 2:30PM

HBO2 Airdates (all times Central)

  • APRIL 27 @ 7:00PM
  • APRIL 28 @ 7:30PM

Louisiana Seafood Still Safe to Eat; Average Consumer Could Eat 63 lbs of Louisiana Shrimp, Each Day for Five Years

Louisiana state officials confirm seafood safety; state has tested more than 1,000 composite samples of Louisiana seafood since the start of BP oil spill.

The average consumer could eat 63 pounds of shrimp each day for five years before reaching the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “levels of concern” for oil contamination according to Louisiana state officials. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced today that levels of contaminants being found in Gulf seafood are so low that the average consumer would have to consume extreme amounts of seafood before approaching a level that approaches a health risk, accordingto the FDA.

State officials with LDWF and the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) examined the levels of contaminates associated with the BP oil spill, called polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), being found in Louisiana seafood that have been collected throughout the spill and determined that the levels were so low that they do not pose a risk to consumers. The average consumer could eat any of the following amounts of seafood each day for up to five years without exceeding the health risks for contamination:

  • 63 pounds of peeled Louisiana shrimp, or 1,575 jumbo shrimp,
  • 5 pounds of Louisiana oyster meat, or 130 individual oysters, or
  • 9 pounds of Louisiana fish, or 18 8-ounce fish filets.

LDWF and the Department of Health and Hospitals have tested more than 1,000 individual seafood samples for contamination associated with the BP oil spill since May 9, 2010. Seafood samples often include more than one specimen. For example, one shrimp sample may include as many as 100 individual shrimp that are then ground into a composite paste and sampled. This composite sampling method provides a more complete pictureof the health of seafood off Louisiana’s coast. All of the seafood samples tested by Louisiana and federal officials have been safe for consumption.


LDWF’s Management Efforts Result in Record Catches at the 2011 Bassmaster Classic

Classic scheduled to return to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 2012.

Across the state, anglers are landing trophy-size bass as a result of management efforts by the Louisiana Departmentof Wildlife and Fisheries. Bassmaster Classic competitors were no exception this past weekend as recordstringers were brought to the scales. Kevin Van Dam, tournament winner and bass fishing superstar, caught the heaviest weights.

Van Dam wowed the crowds with a cumulative weight of over 69 pounds, the heaviest ever in a Classic with a five-fish daily limit. He primarily fished the waters of Lake Cataouatche, a popular fishing spot previously stocked by the LDWF with Florida largemouth bass.

Years ago, the freshwater lake fell on hard times aftertropical storm systems pushed brackish water into the area. The lake’s productivity was minimal, especially in terms of a bass population. Through stocking efforts, in conjunction with fertile Mississippi River waters, through the Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion Project, the departmentwas able to stimulate a productive ecosystem and generate a lively bass population in the lake. The spot’s productivity amazed even the best bass anglers in the world at this year’s Classic.

Throughout Louisiana, anglers routinely report trophy bass exceeding 10 pounds. This was not always the case. The department’s management efforts, including the Florida bass stocking program, are largely responsible for this surge in production.

Bass fishing opportunities in Louisiana rank in the top tier nationwide. However, it’s the diversity of fishing experiences that makes Louisiana special. The Louisiana Delta, site of the Bassmaster Classic is a great example.“Fishing in coastal Louisiana is an experience that’s unique from all other waters in the country,” said Mike Wood, LDWF’s Director of Inland Fisheries. “On any givencast, anglers can tangle with a red drum, flounder, and maybe even a trophy largemouth bass.

Perhaps this is the reason the Sportsman’s Paradise was selected as the host site for the Classic again in 2012. Shreveport will welcome the 42nd annual Bassmaster Classic next February.


Louisiana and Texas Establish Consistent Regulations for Recreational Fishing on Shared Waters

Regulations effective Sept. 1, 2011.

In a historic move, Louisiana and Texas will soon adopt consistent recreational fishing regulations governing their bordering waters. Biologists from the two states have agreed upon regulations that are biologically sound and consistent on both sides of the boundary.

“This monumental event results from cooperation between the two states along with the support of state Rep. James Armes,” said Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “Our department is committed to working with our state partners to provide a better fishing experience for Louisiana anglers.”

The two states share waters along most of their common border, supporting excellent recreational fisheries and attracting thousands of anglers each year. The line between the two states follows the Old Sabine River down through the middle of Toledo Bend, so anglers currentlymust abide by two sets of laws.

The potential for error for even the most conscientious angler is extremely high. For example, an angler with a legal fish in Louisiana can simply drift over the state line into Texas waters and be in violation of their regulations. Unfortunately, many anglers have been cited because of the unnecessary confusion.

The Texas Wildlife Commission has approved a Notice of Intent to make necessary changes on their end. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has now given official notice they intend to make the necessary changes for Louisiana.

Anglers are encouraged to provide their input regarding the changes. Louisiana public hearings will be scheduled in the Minden, Many and Lake Charles areas. Meeting dates and specific locations are being finalized and will be released soon.

With positive public approval and passage by both the Texas and Louisiana Commissions, the regulations are to be implemented on Sept. 1, 2011.


LDWF Hosts SecondAnnual Louisiana Saltwater Series Fishing Tournament

More than 380 redfish already tagged; series features six rodeos, plus championship.

The Louisiana Saltwater Series will soon return to the Gulf Coast for the tournament’s second year. Hosted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the series is dedicated to catch-and-release saltwaterangling through a series of agency-sponsored fishing tournaments.

The series was developed by LDWF in conjunction with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation to promote conservation of Louisiana’s saltwater sport fish resources, including one of Louisiana’s most valuable sport fish, redfish.

“This series is a critical part of ensuring the health and future of our natural resources and the coastal economy because it promotes the management and preservation of our redfish stocks for future generations,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina.

Each series includes two-man teams with a $200 entry fee for each event. For teams consisting of three members, only two of the members may be 16 or older. The tournamentis a 100 percent payout series. There is a 90 percent payout for the first six events with 10 percent retained for the championship. Payout is determined separately for each event based upon the total number of boats entered. Participants may register online for the tournament at www.LaSaltwaterSeries.com.

This year, a youth division was established to introduce young anglers to the sport of fishing, and to teach the catch-and-release approach to conservation. Participantsunder 16 years of age will compete against one another in a separate category for trophy catch; all youth anglers will be recognized.

Data collected from tournament entries serve as valuable tools for LDWF fisheries managers and biologists to improve their understanding of marine sport fish movements,patterns of habitat use and estimate population size. Since 2004, over 15,000 redfish have been tagged through Louisiana’s Cooperative Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program.

“Fish tagging can yield a wealth of information. Years ago, most tagging was done by scientists or trained biologists,but today recreational anglers are encouraged to join the effort as volunteers,” explained Pausina. “Utilizing volunteer taggers allows us to tag a greater number of fish from a wider geographic area.”

In last year’s series alone, anglers tagged a total of 380 fish. The recapture rate from the Slidell tournament was as high as 21 percent. Overall weight determined last year’s winners, with Richard Rutland taking home the monster catch of the series, a 9.66 lb red drum.

The 2011 series is comprised of six fishing events and a championship. Tournament locations are scheduled across the coast. The 2011 tournament schedule is as follows:

  • April 2: Lafitte, Seaway Marina;
  • April 30: Lake Calcasieu, Calcasieu Point Landing;
  • May 14: Venice, Venice Marina;
  • June 18: Delacroix, Sweetwater Marina;
  • July 23: Slidell, Dockside Bait and Tackle/The Dock;
  • Aug. 20: Port Fourchon, Moran’s Marina; and
  • Oct. 7 & 8 – Championship: Empire, The Delta Marina.

Sponsorships for the Saltwater Series are still available. All sponsorship dollars will go towards the cost of planning, production and prize money.For complete information, including rules, regulations and entry forms go to www.lasaltwaterseries.com.