Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fishy Returns Anticipated in Lake Pontchartrain

Part of the appeal of Louisiana is the variety of hunting and fishing opportunities available to both locals and tourists, providing the base that New Orleans' culinary habits are built on. While Hurricane Katrina played havoc with the coastal environment, it has also permitted an opportunity for residents and policy makers alike to change their approach and look at new ideas for the rebuilding of environmental assets.

A Times-Picayune article dated April 20, 2008, by Christine Harvey reports that a new proposal has been presented by Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana (CCA) to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development requesting that rubble from the old I-10 bridge span be used in Lake Pontchartrain to build two new artificial barrier reefs:
"The reefs would measure an acre each and be midway between I-10 and the U.S. 11 bridge, which links Irish Bayou in eastern New Orleans and Eden Isles south of Slidell. . . The project would mimic shell reefs found in nature and give marine life, such as oysters and clams, a hard surface to attach themselves to, John Walther Walther, a volunteer coordinator with CCA Louisiana's reef restoration and building program said. Their presence is invaluable for the food chain, as they attract more fish to the area, he said."
The Coastal Conservation Association has sponsored 3 other artificial reef projects, the most recent being a reef constructed in Calcasieu Lake. According to the CCA, the 1.5-acre reef is located 20 yards from Turner's Bay Island and was designed to protect the small island from erosion and enhance fishing in the area. The reef attracts oyster beds, which helps in both cleaning the water and attracting other fish to the area. Chas Drost claims that he has noticed an increase in the number of fish being caught at the site this spring.

The St. Tammany Parish Government website has a news release dated April 4, 2008, regarding the proposed projects. While reef restoration is part of the proposal, it also includes a plan to use 2000 feet of the west twin span as a fishing pier. Anticipated returns on the project are expected to be seen within two year's time. “Reefs and bridges make great fishing locations,” says Parish Environmentalist Brian Fortson. “The combination of these two projects in Lake Pontchartrain will create an excellent fishing environment.”

All in all, it's safe to say that Louisiana's rich bounty of seafood is well-protected for chefs and gastronomes to continue to enjoy in the future.

SOURCE: "Proposal would turn rubble into reef" 04/20/08
SOURCE: "CCA builds new reef to protect Turner’s Bay Island in Calcasieu Lake" 09/17/07
SOURCE: "New Angles Proposed for Recreational Fishing" 04/04/08
photo courtesy of diongillard, used under this Creative Commons license

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