Bill restricting access to waterways concerns crawfishermen and fishermen

Louisiana News

Crawfishermen and fishermen are concerned about a bill passing through the legislature that will put restrictions on public waterways.

On Wednesday, the bill was presented in the House Natural Resources Committee and passed 9-3.

“If the voters vote in favor of it, it’s going to change the Louisiana constitution, and what it is going to do is it’s going to allow the state to enter into boundary agreements with riparian land owners to put boundaries in the water. Water we are already supposed to have the right of free use to,” President of the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association Jody Meche said.

Nearly 100 fishermen were at the hearing Wednesday, opposing the bill… though they say the committee still passed the bill.

Crawfisherman Jody Meche says it would be devastating to commercial fishermen here.

“According to the public trust doctrine, the waters are for all men to freely use so you’re going to change the law where that is no longer going to be the case and the state is going to go out with riparian landowners and set boundaries on the water to define where the public has a right to go,” Meche said.

He says if that happens, the areas where they typically fish will be drastically reduced.

“It’s going to be terrible because right now I can go and put my boat on the water and I can navigate across that water and go set out crawfish traps and find crawfish and fish,” Meche said. “When this is going to go into effect, there’s going to be a boundary out there on the water.”

He says that boundary will put Louisiana’s crawfish and fishing industries in danger.

“We are not going to be able to fish for crawfish freely anymore we’re not going to be able to navigate and recreational fish freely anymore where you always had the right to go,” Meche said.

The bill is now headed to the judicial committee. Crawfishermensaid they hope the bill is killed before it becomes law.

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