Sport-fishing boat watching pogy boat

Dead bull redfish in Louisiana waters
Dead bull redfish are among the drifting floats left after being discarded by menhaden nets in Louisiana’s coastal waters.
Captain Eric Newman

A menhaden fishery in the Gulf of Mexico, with large commercial receiving vessels harvesting menhaden along Louisiana’s shores and bogs, is increasingly threatening the state’s fragile marine ecosystem and its economy (with recreational fisheries contributing $ 1 billion annually to Louisiana, according to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Statistics).

That is the essence of concerns shared with SF by Chris Macaluso, Director of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnerships Center for Marine Fisheries. Among these concerns – in addition to the still indefinite effect of continuously removing a huge biomass of the menhad from these waters – are bycatch by the pogy boats.


Read next: Commercial Menhaden Operation buys respect


“By conservative estimates, as much as 140 million pounds or more of by-catch are harvested and destroyed by these menhaden harvesters annually,” Macaluso says. It includes both vital feed species and premium game fish that support the state’s recreational fishing industry.

“It’s disturbing – and frankly unacceptable – to see mass killings of mature redfish in the menhaden nets as they gather in spawning grounds in the summer and fall along Louisiana’s beaches and passes,” Macaluso said.

“Seeing hundreds and sometimes thousands of large redfish in breeding size killed in golden nets along the beaches, where they eat and spawn every summer and fall, is stomach-wearing,” adds Macaluso, a lifelong Louisiana resident and angling enthusiast.

Pogy boat
In addition to at least 140 million pounds of bycatch being destroyed from the Gulf each year by menhaden fishermen, tons of environmentally critical menhad are being removed from the Gulf, says Eric Newman.
Captain Eric Newman

This concern was further raised Sport fishing as Captain Eric Newman, with Journey South Outfitters in Venice, shared with us several short video clips he recorded along the recently restored beaches west of the Mississippi River, showing dead, floating redfish just within large industrial nights (the largest in the Gulf, Daybrook Fisheries is owned by a South African group, Newman points out – at one point his small boat, right on the shore, was surrounded by nine of the huge harvesters, all working and spraying black smoke, plus two spotter planes and many more smaller seine boats.

Angling boat watching pogy boat
When pogy boats are aiming for an area, all angling boats can do is stay out of the way as large seines are laid to gather tons of pogies and just about anything that swims.
Benson Chiles

Newman’s dismay is evident in his comments in these videos, as he says, “This is the reality of what’s going on here …. Dead redfish as far as you can see – white bellies, all dead.”

Below are four of these videos.

Commercial Menhaden boats kill the red drum in the Gulf of Mexico

Take a look at a couple of the dead redfish floating dead, thrown back by Menhaden netters.

Commercial Menhaden boats are a threat to Louisiana’s billion-dollar recreational fishing industry

Menhaden boats kill the same redfish that anglers and charter operators could catch and release over and over again.

Several dead redfish float on the Gulf of Mexico, discarded by commercial Menhaden boats

See numerous huge menhaden netboats all around and all the white bellies of dead reds they leave behind.

Commercial Menhaden boats run mercilessly by recreational anglers and damage fragile coastal waters

Under new ownership of a South African company, menhaden seiners are increasingly finding the best fishing spots to force anglers to leave.

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