Sunday, November 08, 2020

LWF Commission declines action on menhaden restrictions

For the second time in three months, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission opted to punt rather than deal directly with a growing conservation issue related to coastal fisheries.

At their November 5th meeting, the LWFC was to consider a motion of intent to create a exclusion zone for menhaden fishing. Pogey boats would have to fish outside one mile of the coastline, in an effort to limit the bycatch of recreational species common within one mile, and avoid user group conflicts. Louisiana is the only coastal state that does not have an exclusion zone.

Instead, the Commission voted to adopt a motion to extend a “gentleman’s agreement” on exclusion zones within areas where shoreline recreational fishing was most common. That would basically be Grand Isle, Elmer’s Isle, and Holly Beach. Currently such an agreement exists with the town of Grand Isle. However it was pointed out in the meeting that this has been broken numerous times by certain vessels – and there are no penalties for doing so.

While supporters of the proposal brought forth evidence for an MFED, commissioners were swayed by arguments from Omega Corporation, the state’s only menhaden producer, that LDWF studies showed very little bycatch – only 2 percent of redfish and speckled trout. Even though those studies were decades old.  Basis for an MFED in other states might've helped, but that was never brought to discussion.

Back in September, the Commission voted to delay action on reducing speckled trout limits from 25 to 15, with an increase in minimum size from 12″ to 13″. Instead, they opted for yet another study on seatrout recruitment with results to be presented at the LWFC October 2021 meeting.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

LWFC to hear proposal for menhaden restrictions

This Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission will consider a notice of intent to establish an exclusion zone for commercial menhaden fishing at their monthly meeting in Baton Rouge. Meeting time is 9:30am.

Agenda Item #9 proposed by Commissioner Chad Courville will include supplemental information presented by Jason Adriance, Marine Fisheries Biologist. The proposal being put forth is a one-mile exclusion zone for commercial harvesting from the Louisiana coastline.

These small, oily baitfish are of significant importance to anglers,  because they’re an essential food source for most gamefish in the Gulf and Atlantic waters, as well as whales, dolphins, and other marine species. They’re also a highly valuable commercial species. Billions of menhaden each year are processed into fish oil, fish meal, fertilizers, cosmetics and other products.

In recent years, menhaden harvest has increased and created conflicts with recreational anglers, as well as put gamefish species at risk. Thousands of spawning size red drum each year are killed as a result of bycatch. And according to some researchers, the nearshore harvest of menhaden may be responsible for a decrease in the total biomass of red drum and spotted seatrout - as much as fifty percent!

While a one-mile zone is certainly better than the status quo, the FFI Gulf Coast Council is lobbying for extension to 2 miles. The reason is that large numbers of nearshore spotted seatrout and red drum that depend on menhaden often exist beyond the one-mile boundary.  Extending the boundary would not only reduce the bycatch of red drum, but perhaps offset the need for drastic limit changes in speckled trout.  


Due to the public health emergency guidelines established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 40 members of the public will be allowed in the meeting room. However, the meeting will be broadcast via Zoom.

To attend via webinar, first register at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

While attending and speaking in person may not be likely, the public can send comments to the Commission in advance of the meeting.  Please email to by 5:00pm, Wednesday, November 4th. Your email must include the agenda item # (9) in the subject of your email. The body of your message should include your name and address before your comment.  No comments will be accepted via webinar.