Taking specks off the menu, the oyster recovery plan and geography lessons
SPECKS COULD COME OFF THE MENU

Many people can barely remember the last time they had a dish of blackened redfish and knew their entrée came from Louisiana waters. The commercial harvest of the famous fish was outlawed in the '90s during a debate over banning gill nets; speckled trout survived the ban, although fishermen chasing the tricky spotted fish were restricted to using only rod and reel, rather than nets. That could soon be a thing of the past.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee will soon hear legislation by Woodworth Democratic Sen. Joe McPherson that would restrict specks to only recreational fishing. If the bill passes as is, Louisiana speckled trout would be removed from restaurant menus, market freezers and other retail outlets. The coming debate will be emotional as commercial fishermen, still reeling from last year's hurricane season, try to save one of their remaining economic channels. ' Jeremy Alford

OYSTER FISHERMEN NEED FEDERAL CASH TO REBUILD

Elsewhere in the Gulf seafood industry, the Louisiana Oyster Task Force is trying to implement a plan with federal money that could resuscitate its industry. Prior to last year's season, Louisiana harvested almost 40 percent of the nation's oysters, but the 2005 hurricanes destroyed 400 million pounds more than the annual average output. Furthermore, the storms damaged boats, docks and other infrastructure and displaced hundreds of workers.

"The Louisiana Oyster Recovery Plan" is broken down into five sections: vessels and locks, harvest areas, unloading facilities, processing plants and market development. A cornerstone of the plan is the removal of debris from oyster beds. Oysters suffocated after the storms buried them in silt and mud, and they won't be able to return to their habitat until the debris is removed. "We're currently trying to secure the money to implement this plan," says Mike Voisin, chairman of the government agency. "Funds are earmarked for it in a Senate bill, and we're going to Washington to drum up support." ' JA

THE ONE THAT LOOKS LIKE A BOOT

A poll conducted by National Geographic magazine recently revealed that one-third of respondents couldn't find Louisiana on a map ' you know, Louisiana, the state that has received international press attention since last fall. Nearly half of the 510 individuals polled couldn't find Mississippi, either. The survey helped launch a multimedia campaign called "My Wonderful World" that will target children 8 to 17 and encourage parents and educators to spend more time on geography. ' JA

SPEAKING OF GEOGRAPHY LESSONS ...

The Daily Advertiser had another one of its memorable front-page blunders last week. In its lead story Friday on hurricane planning for 2006, The Advertiser wrote, "Katrina made landfall around the Texas-Louisiana state line." ' Scott Jordan

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