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October 18, 2023

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October 10, 2023

Louisiana Issues Proposed Regulations to Protect Redfish, Conserve Habitat from Industrial Menhaden Fishery

In a major conservation win, the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted a Notice of Intent late last week to create a minimum 1-mile coastwide buffer prohibiting commercial netting of Gulf menhaden and increasing fish spill penalties

Louisiana’s redfish – and anglers seeking them – may no longer be competing with the Gulf’s industrial menhaden fishery in nearshore areas, thanks to a Notice of Intent (NOI) adopted by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission on October 5.

Acting in response to a series of net spills by two industrial pogie boat operators in September near Holly and Rutherford beaches, which resulted in an estimated 850,000 menhaden and hundreds of redfish killed, the commission issued an NOI establishing a minimum 1-mile coastwide buffer for the fishery in the state, with a 3-mile buffer required between Holly and Rutherford beaches. The buffer would widen an existing quarter-mile-wide area that is off limits to industrial pogie boats, which was established this season. The NOI also details more stringent penalties and reporting requirements for future net spills.

As part of the required process for regulatory change in Louisiana, the NOI will be open for further public comment and must still pass through state House and Senate Natural Resources Committee review before being finalized in early 2024.

Gulf menhaden, also known as pogies, provide a critical food source for iconic Louisiana species like redfish and speckled trout. However, nearly 1 billion pounds of pogies are harvested by the industrial pogie fishery each year, mainly from Louisiana waters. To date, pogie boats have been allowed to fish shallows closer than 500 yards from Louisiana’s shorelines, stirring up sediment with their massive seine nets and impacting both fragile coastal habitats and iconic sportfish populations. Of most concern to anglers have been impacts to redfish, which spawn and congregate in these areas.

The recreational fishing community has been sounding the alarm about the industry’s impacts to sportfish populations and shorelines for years, all while accepting more and more limits on recreational fishing, including stricter size and creel limits on redfish and speckled trout.

“This represents a significant step forward in the conservation and management of Louisiana’s fisheries,” says Chris Macaluso, director of the Center for Marine Fisheries for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission thankfully has recognized that the concerns of anglers and conservation advocates are valid, and that Louisiana’s nearshore habitats need protection from foreign-owned, industrial pogie fishing boats. This is a big win for redfish, speckled trout, mackerel, dolphins, brown pelicans, and a host of other fish and wildlife, and a win for those who appreciate and enjoy Louisiana’s coast.”

“We thank the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for taking this positive step towards protecting our fragile coastlines and the fish and wildlife that live there,” says David Cresson, executive director and CEO for the Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana. “The action of the commissioners last week, and many Louisiana legislators who encouraged that action, was a tremendous show of leadership. Now it is critical that we stay vigilant and focused as the NOI continues through the process and these much-needed regulations are finalized.”

Under the commission’s leadership, the Louisiana fishery could soon join the ranks of the other Gulf states who have expanded menhaden conservation regulations. While recreational fishing and conservation groups are still intent on establishing a scientifically based catch limit on menhaden in the Gulf of Mexico, they collectively recognize last week’s vote by the commission as a landmark positive step forward to protect redfish and the state’s coastal environment.

“The hundreds of small business owners that make up the Louisiana Charter Boat Association applaud the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for recommending stronger menhaden regulations, and we commend the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for affirming these recommendations. While more work remains to ensure that this Notice of Intent becomes law, today’s vote was a monumental step in the right direction,” says Richard Fischer, executive director for the Louisiana Charter Boat Association. “Years of teamwork from several organizations led to this moment, and today’s result would not have been possible without our dedicated and coordinated efforts. Thank you so much to every member of our coalition that played a role in making today’s vote happen.”

“Menhaden are a key prey species for many sportfish, including tarpon. Bonefish & Tarpon Trust appreciates the recent steps by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to expand protections for menhaden and to protect sensitive coastal habitats,” says Kellie Ralston, vice president for conservation and public policy for the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. “We look forward to continuing to work with LDWF and our conservation partners to ensure long-term sustainability of the Louisiana menhaden fishery.”

“Louisiana’s anglers and recreational fishing businesses depend on healthy habitats and fish populations,” says Martha Guyas, Southeast fisheries policy director for the American Sportfishing Association. “ASA thanks the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for taking this important step toward reducing impacts to coastal resources from the industrial menhaden fishery.”

“This is great news for menhaden, the recreational anglers of Louisiana, and the local businesses they support,” says Brett Fitzgerald, executive director for the Angler Action Foundation. “The door is now open to focus on and further necessary protections for our gamefish and their forage fish throughout the region. Many thanks to all who worked for so long on this important issue.”

Learn more here about the recreational fishing community’s push for better management of forage fish in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and Chesapeake Bay.

Photo by Karlie Roland. 

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September 29, 2023

TRCP Applauds Passage of the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act

The bipartisan legislation that passed Congress this week would help more Americans build confidence in the great outdoors and safeguard hunting and angling traditions.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act (HR 5110) in a 424-1 vote on Tuesday September 26, 2023. The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent the next day. The bill has now gone to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. 

The Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to clarify that the prohibition of use of federal education funds for certain weapons training does not apply to extracurricular programs such as archery, hunting, and other shooting sports.  

This summer the U.S. Department of Education indicated that as a result of changes made in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which passed in 2022, schools with hunting, archery, and other outdoor education programs may not be eligible to receive certain federal funds.  This would negatively impact millions of students who participate in archery programs, hunter education classes, wilderness and outdoor classes, and school sponsored target shooting teams.  The Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act seeks to restore funding and clarify that students may have access to educational programs and activities such as archery and hunting safety education. 

“We applaud Representatives Green and Peltola, and Senators Tester and Murkowski for developing and passing a bipartisan solution to this issue. Restoring federal funding for hunter education, archery in the schools, and other outdoor programs will help more Americans build confidence to venture into the great outdoors,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, “With overwhelming bipartisan support, we urge President Biden to sign this important bill into law without delay.” 

President Biden’s signature would ensure that these programs remain available in schools across the nation and help safeguard the future of our hunting and angling traditions.   

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to the future of hunting and fishing here

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September 28, 2023

Emphasizing the Importance of Federal Investment in the Rio Grande Basin

The TRCP organized a trip to Washington, DC to advocate for enacting meaningful legislation that supports restoration and drought mitigation.

The Rio Grande is the Nation’s fourth longest river, providing drinking water to an estimated 12 million people, irrigating thousands of acres of farmland, and supporting habitat for game and fish. Like much of the West, the Rio Grande Basin is experiencing long-term drought and aridification as a consequence of decreased precipitation and increased temperatures throughout the basin. This results in increased strain on freshwater availability for communities, habitats, and species while simultaneously increasing the severity and frequency of wildfires and other natural hazards. 

Thanks to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, the past two years were marked by an historic increase in federal funding to support locally led conservation and restoration initiatives throughout the West. Yet, much of this funding is difficult for communities to access, particularly rural and underserved communities. For example, cost share requirements, limited local capacity, and minimal federal investment in project planning and development make it difficult for many communities to access federal funding opportunities for watershed restoration. 

Additionally, substantial portions of available federal funding are specifically focused on addressing drought in the Colorado River Basin and “other basins experiencing comparable levels of drought” without statutory guidance on how drought is quantified. This makes it difficult to determine how much money will be available to other drought-stricken basins, like the Rio Grande. 

That’s why this September the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership organized a trip to Washington, DC to educate lawmakers on the importance of federal investment in the Rio Grande and to emphasize the importance of accessible and stakeholder-driven federal funding allocation. We were glad to be joined by our partners and friends who do national and state-specific work across the basin, including American Rivers, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, the New Mexico Chapter of Audubon Southwest, Amigos Bravos, Colorado Open Lands, New Mexico Wild, and the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project

During our trip, we met with staff from Senators Luján (D-N.M.), Heinrich (D-N.M.), Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Bennet (D-Colo.), as well as staff from Representatives Stansbury (D-N.M.), Leger Fernendez (D-N.M.), Vasquez (D-N.M.), and Boebert’s (R-Colo.) offices and were glad to see broad support for increased coordination and management of the Rio Grande Basin.

We appreciate bipartisan leadership from our members of Congress in Colorado and New Mexico to enact meaningful legislation that supports restoration and drought mitigation, and we are thankful for the continued support of ensuring that this investment is meaningfully distributed on the ground. 

Learn more about TRCP’s commitment to habitat and clean water here

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September 22, 2023

Hit a Home Run for Conservation 

New York Mets First Baseman Pete Alonso has a passion for hunting, fishing, and giving back. 

You may know Pete Alonso as the two-time Home Run Derby Champion, three-time Major League Baseball All-Star, and the first basemen for the New York Mets, but did you know he was named the July 2023 Most Valuable Philanthropist by MLB’s Players Trust and has been a staunch supporter of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership since his rookie season in 2019? 

MLB’s Players Trust recognizes players whose efforts have made a positive impact on the causes and communities personal to them.  Over the course of the regular season, the Players Trust bestows three Most Valuable Philanthropist (MVP) awards to celebrate those who have demonstrated a giving spirit and positive social impact beyond the baseball field.   Pete Alonso was recognized in July 2023 with the MVP award for his tireless work with the Alonso Foundation and for supporting causes he cares about – such as the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. 

Off the field, Alonso is a lifelong hunter and angler. Fishing in his home waters of Tampa Bay and hunting throughout the country have clearly made a mark on Alonso. This is evident through his charitable work and his advocacy for conservation issues important to the sporting community. Alonso has long supported the conservation work of the TRCP by hosting a fishing trip in Tampa that has been auctioned off at the annual TRCP Capital Conservation Award Dinner, and his zeal for the outdoors has been frequently highlighted in the press, through an appearance on a special episode of MeatEater, hunting mule deer in Colorado with host, and TRCP Board member, Steve Rinella, and his work with TRCP partner, Captains for Clean Water

Given his altruistic spirit and passion for conservation, it is no surprise that Alonso has partnered with TRCP for the 2023 Fall Sweepstakes, offering everyone the chance to win an expense-paid trip for 2 to Tampa, FL to fish with Pete.   

On the field, Pete Alonso hits home runs with the best of them, but his passion and support for guaranteeing all Americans quality places to hunt and fish is a homerun for conservation. 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

Learn More

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