- Unlike Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas, Louisiana has no geographic restrictions on where menhaden can be harvested.
- Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Representative Joseph Orgeron introduced House Bill 535 (HB 535) which would establish a coastal exclusion zone where the commercial taking of menhaden would be prohibited.
- On May 10, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted a letter in support of HB 535, citing concerns with bycatch of important game fish species and impacts to the shallow water substrate.
- On May 12, HB 535 passed favorably out of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment by a vote of 10-4.
Why it Matters: Menhaden are an important forage food for many recreationally important species in Louisiana such as redfish, speckled trout, and southern flounder, among others. The commercial menhaden harvest also results in tens of millions of pounds of non-target species bycatch annually. HB 535 will enhance the conservation of Louisiana’s inshore and nearshore game fish species and subsequently benefit anglers in “Sportsman’s Paradise.”
Menhaden, also known as pogies, are filter feeding members of the herring family and are integral members of coastal food webs for several game and non-game fish species, mammals, and birds. Menhaden are also commercially harvested to be used as animal feed, bait, and fertilizers, among other uses.
Louisiana’s recreational anglers have continually expressed concerns about the proximity of industrial purse seines, used in the commercial harvest of menhaden, near shorelines and beaches because of the incidental bycatch of non-target species as well as the threat of continued damage to Louisiana’s shallow water bottom substrates by large commercial fishing vessels. The establishment of a half-mile buffer zone from the shoreline would also reduce potential conflicts between the commercial and recreational angler boats.
In 2020, Louisiana generated $11.90 million in fishing licenses alone. Sportsmen and women from across the country travel to Louisiana to experience its world class fisheries. HB 535 would help to promote positive angling experiences, limit the bycatch on non-target fish species, and help protect against the degradation of coastal ecosystems. The bill does not reduce the menhaden quota available for harvest and will not result in a significant negative economic impact to the commercial menhaden fishery.
CSF will continue to work with in-state and national partners to advance HB 535 to help conserve recreational fisheries that are culturally and economically important to Louisiana.