Louisiana Fisheries 2014 — A summit for the Louisiana commercial fishing and seafood industry

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: February 19, 2014
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter

Louisiana Fisheries 2014 — A summit for the Louisiana commercial fishing and seafood industry

The second annual Louisiana Fisheries Summit will held at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center on Wednesday, March 12 and Thursday, March 13. Once again, hundreds of commercial fishermen, seafood dealers, processors and others from across the state will congregate in Houma to participate in the Gulf South’s premier commercial fishing and seafood industry event.

Last year’s event was well received with nearly three hundred people attending the first day and over two hundred the second. Subsequently, due to popular demand, we’ve increased the capacity to be able to accommodate nearly four hundred attendees this year.

Louisiana Fisheries 2014 will provide participants the opportunity to learn about the latest updates, techniques, and programs concerning commercial fishing and seafood production. Two days, two different programs, plus a Trade Show and Dock Day will be provided this year.

The seminars will feature expert speakers from across the country discussing topics including: fisheries/seafood industry status & updates, research & development, compensation funds, sustainability & certification, business development & opportunities, enhancement programs, marketing, refrigeration, financing, shipping, lubricants, fuel flow meters, outboards, professionalization programs, and more.

Held concurrent to the seminars, the trade show will feature organizations and vendors displaying various products and services of interest to those involved in commercial fishing and the seafood industry.

Finally, the summit will conclude with a “Dock Day” on the afternoon of March 13. Modeled after the highly successful agricultural field days, this part of the program will occur in the Civic Center parking lot and will involve actual demonstrations of innovative gear, processes, and technologies including: refrigeration systems, lubricants, LNG & CNG fuel, propane & natural gas engines, fuel flow meters, vacuum packaging, trawling systems, and fishing vessel safety.

In addition to the seminar, trade show, and dock day programs, this event will afford a great opportunity for those involved in the various fisheries and seafood industry sectors to be able to network with one another, make new business contacts, and expand horizons … All with a vision and purpose of increasing business efficiencies and profitability.

Sponsored by Louisiana Sea Grant and the LSU AgCenter, in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana Fisheries 2014 is an educational and networking opportunity tailored for and targeted towards individuals involved in Louisiana’s commercial fishing and seafood industry. Registration is free and can be completed by going to LouisianaFisheries.com or by visiting BayouLog.com and clicking on the “Louisiana Fisheries” link. The latest agenda and more information concerning the event can also be found there. Space is limited and available on a “first come, first serve” basis. Therefore, anyone interested in attending this event is encouraged to register early.

###

Alan Matherne is the Louisiana Sea Grant / LSU AgCenter Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He is also Project Leader for the Louisiana Fisheries Summit and can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Fisheries, Seafood, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wetlands are a valuable national treasure

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: January 22, 2014
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant

Wetlands are a valuable national treasure

Once considered wastelands, wetlands are everything but that. They are complex, fragile and finite systems. Wetlands are a valuable national treasure that must be protected so that their benefits can be utilized. What are the benefits of wetlands? A number of beneficial functions of wetlands have been identified, these include:

Physical Protection – Wetlands protect shorelines from wave or storm erosion by breaking up wave and storm energy. They protect downstream areas from the damaging effects of floods. This happens by slowing and temporarily storing floodwaters, resulting in reduced peak flows.

Water Quality Enhancement – As polluted water flows through them, wetlands clean up the water by physically holding the pollutants to plants and bottom sediment and by chemical actions and reactions such as precipitation, breakdown and uptake. Basically they act as biological sewerage treatment plants.

Water Supply – In some areas wetlands serve as storage systems for groundwater. They store water during the wetter parts of the year and release it regularly. This helps to maintain constant stream flows.

Wildlife Habitat – Many species of fish and wildlife depend upon wetland areas as breeding, nesting, rearing, and wintering habitats. Significant portions of federally-listed threatened or endangered animals and plants depend upon wetlands to complete their life cycles.

Food Chain Support – Coastal and wetland areas are important basic food producers. Plant-derived food materials are flushed out to estuaries and other coastal and aquatic areas. This forms the basis of food webs, critical to commercial fisheries production.

Commercial Products – Wetlands are sources of fish and shellfish, furbearers, timber, forage, wild rice, cranberries, blueberries, and other useful materials.

Recreation and Aesthetics – Many people like to hunt and fish, study and photograph nature, go boating, and engage in other outdoor activities in and around wetlands. Other folks simply enjoy being around and taking in the natural beauty that wetland areas provide.

Climatic Influences – Wetlands may be an important part of the global cycles of nitrogen, sulfur, and carbon, especially methane and carbon dioxide, important “greenhouse” gases. Thus, wetlands may actually help control air pollution by removing some of the nitrogen and carbon compounds that are produced through man’s activities.

Some of the services that wetlands provide, such as providing habitat for endangered species, are irreplaceable. Others can be replaced, but a great expense to the public and private sectors.

We can purify polluted waters by treating them in large expensive facilities.

Shorelines can be protected by bulkheads or rip rap.

Increased flood and storm damages could be covered by increased insurance premiums.

Hunting and fishing could be replaced by other forms of recreation.

Yes, these things could be replaced, should our wetlands not be properly protected … but at what cost?

We’ve still got a lot to learn about wetland functions and values and the importance of wetlands to our environmental health and quality of life. Many new challenges lie ahead. Hopefully, our renewed commitment to wetlands protection and restoration will assure the continued generation of the many values and benefits that they provide.

So, remember … just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one generation’s perceived wasteland is another generation’s acknowledged national treasure – our wetlands!

###

Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Coastal Issues, Environment | Leave a comment

Naturalists of Louisiana

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: December 18, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant

Naturalists of Louisiana

That’s the theme of the 2014 Tidal Graph Calendar produced by and available now from the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP). Each year BTNEP produces a Louisiana-flavored, full-color calendar that highlights the estuary’s unique ecology and history and additionally depicts, graphically, the daily tides for coastal Louisiana.

BTNEP 2014 Calendar

This year’s calendar showcases a number of Louisiana residents known for their outstanding enjoyment and study of nature. Beginning with a short discussion of “What is a naturalist?”, and a description of the new “Louisiana Master Naturalist Program”, the beautifully designed and very informative calendar covers a different Louisiana naturalist each month:

January — Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz (1695?-1775)
February — Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Girault (1716-1795)
March — Louis Jacques Judice (1731-?)
April — Mark Catesby (1682 – 1749)
May — John James Audubon (1785-1851)
June — George H. Lowery, Jr. (1913-1978)
July — Jacob M. “Jake” Valentine II (1917-2000)
August — Edward Avery McIlhenny (1872-1949)
September — John J. Lynch (1914 – 1983)
October — Herbert Clay Dessauer (1921-2013)
November — Percy Viosca, Jr. (1892-1961)
December — Caroline Coroneos Dormon (1888-1971)

Copies of the calendar can be obtained by contacting BTNEP at 985-447-0868 or stopping by their office located at 320 Audubon Drive (105 N Babington Hall, Nicholls State University campus) in Thibodaux. It is also available for download from their calendars site at: http://www.btnep.org/BTNEP/resources/downloads/calendars.aspx.

About the BTNEP … “Established in 1991, the mission of the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Program (BTNEP) is the preservation and restoration of the Barataria-Terrebonne estuarine system, the 4.2 million acre region between the Atchafalaya and Mississippi River basins. The BTNEP strives to rebuild and protect the estuary for future generations through the implementation of a science-based, consensus-driven plan that utilizes partnerships focused on the estuary’s rich cultural, economic and natural resources.”

For more information about the BTNEP you can go to their website at http://www.btnep.org/BTNEP or “Like” them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BTNEP. Also, if you are interested in learning how to support the BTNEP and provide assistance in the work it is doing to help save the Barataria and Terrebonne basins, just go to the BTNEP Foundation’s website: supportbtnep.org.

Want to join the ranks of famous Louisiana naturalists? People with an intense desire to understand the wild plants, animals, and habitats of our state now have a vehicle for satisfying that need. The Louisiana Master Naturalist Program (LMNP) is a new program that provides training to citizen scientists in the many and varied natural sciences associated with the natural resources of the state. The Greater New Orleans chapter kicked off its pilot program in the fall of 2012. Sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, the ultimate vision of the statewide LMNP is to have regional chapters throughout the state. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a “Master Naturalist”, just go to the LMNP website at http://www.louisianamasternaturalist.org and find out more about the program.

###

Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal, Fisheries, & Wildlife Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Ecotourism, Environment, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Wildlife Management Areas provide outdoor opportunities

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: November 20, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter/Sea Grant

Wildlife Management Areas provide outdoor opportunities

Most states have outdoor areas set aside for public use. Louisiana is no exception with over fifty Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) located throughout the state. These public outdoor recreation areas have been set aside to preserve land as habitat for our native fish and wildlife species. Managed primarily to provide public hunting and fishing access, these areas are also open to non-consumptive activities such as hiking, boating, canoeing, bird watching, and sightseeing. Louisiana’s WMAs are managed by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Louisiana Wildlife Management Areas

Access is open to the public, but permits are required. Person using WMAs for any purpose other than hunting are required to possess a Louisiana hunting license, a Louisiana fishing license, or a Wild Louisiana Stamp. Additionally, hunters will also need a WMA hunting permit. Note that people who are younger than sixteen or older than sixty are exempt from the above. Also, most WMAs require the completion of self-clearing WMA permits, available on-site at various locations throughout the WMA.

Physical access to the sites varies, most have roads and trails for automobile and ATV usage, but some are accessible only by boat. Trails are generally marked indicating vehicle restrictions and some are designated as nature trails for pedestrian use only.
Information concerning our WMAs can be obtained by going to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries WMA site at wlf.la.gov/wma. This is a very comprehensive resource with information concerning all aspects of the areas. Included at the site you will find downloadable maps, area descriptions, and links to hunting and fishing regulations specific to the areas.

Louisiana’s Wildlife Management Areas are a tremendous resource for people who want to enjoy outdoor activities but are limited in their access to private lands. I personally have visited many WMAs and have utilized them for hunting, fishing, hiking, and canoeing. They’re great places to just “get away from it all” for a while and I encourage you to check them out.

###

Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Hunting, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Hunter safety tips

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: October 23, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Agent
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter/Sea Grant

Hunter safety tips

With the recent cool fronts coming through, area temperatures are dropping. And with that, many of our area hunters are getting that “itch” and are beginning to make preparations to get outdoors and bag some game. Just remember that in our zeal to get out and take some prey we should not forget to always keep safety in mind.

So that our trips are always successful in terms of a safe and accident-free outing (whether or not we take any game), it is important to brush up on some of the basic hunting safety rules.

First, let’s review the fundamental gun safety rules:
• Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
• Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
• Be sure the gun is safe to operate (bore unobstructed, etc.).
• Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use and unload it immediately after hunting.
• Unload guns before getting into stands, going through fences, and getting around other obstacles.
• Know how to use guns safely.
• Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
• Keep gun safeties on until ready to shoot.
• Know your target and what is beyond it.
• Don’t let the “heat of the moment” hurry your judgment or actions.
• Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
• Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.
• Store guns so that they are not accessible to unauthorized persons (especially children).

The use of tree stands by deer hunters has increased dramatically over the years. This has resulted in more accidents. Here are some tips to help ensure a safe hunt from a tree stand:
• Securely attach the stand no more than 10-12 feet from the ground.
• Use a safety belt to secure yourself to the tree. Harnesses made for this purpose are much safer than a rope. If using a climbing stand, use the belt while climbing.
• Use an equipment haul line to get your unloaded gun or bow and other gear into and out of the stand.
• Keep the tree stand in good working condition. Check it carefully before the hunting season and replace or repair any worn or missing parts. Also, it is a good idea to check it from time to time during the season too.
• Be careful not to fall asleep. This is a common cause of tree stand accidents.
• Never climb a tree after taking medication that makes you drowsy. If you start to feel drowsy and begin to nod off, get down to the ground immediately.
• Make sure that if you are using tree steps, that they are aligned to provide the most possible support and to prevent foot slippage.
• When climbing down, keep your safety belt on.

Finally, understand that safety is as much a “state of mind” as it is a set of principles to abide by. The main thing is to use common sense at all times. If what you’re getting ready to do doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. Take a moment or two to think things out. Think about the consequences of your actions, and then make the right choice. It just might keep you, and your companions, safe and healthy and ready for your next great outdoor adventure.

Good luck afield!

###

Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Agent for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Hunting | 2 Comments

Sea Grant blogs provide coastal and fisheries info

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: September 20, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant

Sea Grant blogs provide coastal and fisheries info

Four Sea Grant Program blogs, one Gulf regional and the other three Louisiana-based, provide factual, non-biased information concerning area coastal, fisheries, wildlife, and aquaculture issues.

“BayouLog” is my blog. It provides original articles and information on a wide variety of topics including: aquaculture, coastal issues, crawfish, disaster & emergency, ecotourism, environment, fisheries, gulf oil spill, home & family, hunting, seafood, and wildlife. It can be accessed by going to the site bayoulog.com. The blog can also be subscribed to, resulting in articles being received by email whenever a new one is posted.

“Chenier Ecology” is an occasional column written by Kevin Savoie. Kevin is Sea Grant’s natural resources and fisheries agent based in Lake Charles. This insightful blog is available at www.seagrantfish.lsu.edu/resources/chenier/index.htm and covers a variety of coastal, fisheries, and seafood issues.

“Louisiana Lagniappe” is the online version of a fisheries newsletter written by Julie Anderson. Dr. Anderson is Louisiana Sea Grant’s fisheries specialist. This blog is a great clearinghouse for all of the latest fisheries-related news occurring throughout Louisiana. “Louisiana Lagniappe” is available at louisianalagniappe.wordpress.com. It too can be subscribed to.

“Sea Grant in the Gulf of Mexico” is the blog site for the Gulf regional network of the National Sea Grant College Program. It covers fisheries and coastal news and information relavent to the Gulf of Mexico area. The Sea Grant programs of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi-Alabama, and Florida are university-based institutions that support research, education, and extension to enhance economic opportunities while conserving coastal resources in the Gulf of Mexico region. This blog can be found at gulfseagrant.wordpress.com.

If you are looking to stay up-to-date on news concerning coastal and fisheries issues in the Louisiana and Gulf regions, then these Sea Grant blogs are a great place to start.

###

Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Aquaculture, Coastal Currents, Coastal Issues, Environment, Fisheries, Seafood, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Hunting season is here: 2013-2014

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: August 28, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant

Hunting season is just around the corner

As fall approaches and gets near, you start thinking of outdoor activities such as football and hunting.

September marks the beginning of Louisiana’s 2013-14 hunting season. To help in planning your days, here is a list of this year’s upcoming hunting seasons:

Migratory game birds
Hunting season opens Sept. 7 with the first split for doves continuing through Sept. 15 in the South Zone, and Sept. 22 in the North Zone. Dove season in the South Zone continues Oct. 19-Dec. 1 and Dec. 21-Jan. 6, and Oct. 12-Nov. 10 and Dec. 14-Jan. 6 in the North Zone. The bag limit is 15 doves.

Teal, rail and gallinule hunting season begins Sept. 14 and continues through Sept. 29. Rail and gallinule have a second split Nov. 9-Jan. 1. Bag limits are six teal, 15 king and clapper rails, 25 sora and virginia rails, and 15 gallinules.

The taking of ducks, coots and mergansers begins Nov. 9 in the Coastal Zone and continues through various splits in the West, East and Coastal zones. Various goose seasons begin with a couple of Nov. 9 openings in the East and Coastal zones. There are special seasons for youth waterfowl hunting and for falconry hunting. Consult the migratory game birds hunting seasons brochure for details.

Woodcock season is Dec. 18-Jan. 31 with a bag limit of three.

The snipe season is Nov. 2-Dec. 1 and Dec. 14-Feb. 28 in the Coastal Zone; Nov. 9-Dec. 15 and Dec. 21-Feb. 28 in the West Zone; and Nov. 9-Dec. 8 and Dec. 14-Feb. 28 in the East Zone. The bag limit is eight.

Rabbit, squirrel and quail
Rabbit and squirrel hunting season begins Oct. 5 and continues through Feb. 28. The spring season is May 3-25. Some areas are closed for the spring season, so check the Louisiana Hunting Regulations pamphlet for details. The bag limit for rabbits and squirrels is eight and three squirrels in the spring.

The season for quail hunting is Nov. 16 through Feb. 28. The bag limit is 10.

Deer
Assumption, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes are in Area 9. Area 9 deer hunting starts with the archery season, Oct. 1-15 for bucks only, and Oct 16.-Feb. 15 for either sex. The primitive firearms season has three splits — Nov. 9-15 and Jan. 27-31 for bucks only, and Jan. 20-26 for either sex. Modern firearms still hunting — no dogs allowed — begins Nov. 16 and continues through Dec. 6 for bucks only, and Nov. 29-Dec. 1 for either sex. Deer hunting with or without dogs is allowed from Dec. 7 through Jan. 19 for bucks only, and Dec. 14-15, Dec. 28-29 and Jan. 11-12 for either sex.

There are some Area 9 high water benchmark closure areas in portions of Iberia, Iberville, St. Martin and St. Mary parishes, so consult the Louisiana Hunting Regulations pamphlet for details.

Deer daily bag limits are one antlered and one antlerless when legal. The season limit is six, which includes three antlered or four antlerless deer. Wildlife Management Areas and other public land seasons and regulations vary, so consult the Louisiana Hunting Regulations pamphlet for details.

The Special Youth Deer Season, on private land, is Oct. 26-Nov. 1 in Area 9.

There is a special physically challenged either sex deer season, on private land, Oct. 5-6. This season is restricted to hunters with physically challenged hunter permits.

Other hunting seasons
The season for crows is Sept. 1-Jan. 1 with no limit. Nutria season on WMAs and private property is Sept. 1-Feb. 28 with a daily limit of five and on Atchafalaya Delta, Salvador/Timken, Pointe-aux-Chenes and Pass a Loutre WMAs Sept. 1-March 31.

Raccoons and opossums have no closed season. There are restrictions for night hunting. There is an experimental year round season for bobcats. See the regulations pamphlet for details. Pheasant is open concurrently with the quail season with no limit.

Turkey season is in the spring. A separate pamphlet covering this will be available later this year.

Consult and study the Louisiana Hunting Regulations 2013-14 pamphlet before going hunting. It is available at retailers that sell hunting gear and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ hunting regulations website, wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/regulations. There are many rules and regulations associated with hunting, and you need to make sure you are completely legal before heading out.

###

Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Hunting, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Seafood is “heart healthy” food

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: July 30, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter/Sea Grant

Seafood is “heart healthy” food

Seafood is an ideal “heart healthy” food, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), the Mayo Clinic, the Harvard School of Public Health, and others.

Most seafood is low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; high in protein; low in calories (a 3½-ounce serving of white-fleshed fish typically has less than 100 calories); and low in sodium. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals and, as a bonus, it’s quick and easy to prepare.

Consequently, because fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, the AHA and others recommend eating two 3-1/2-ounce servings of fish a week.

Because some fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish can contain mercury, consumption of those fish should be limited and avoided by some, such as pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, and children under the age of 12. Other than that note of caution, seafood products are considered safe, healthy, delicious, and nutritious sources of high-quality protein.

Don’t overcook your seafood. Fish cooks quickly and should be cooked only until the flesh turns opaque and flakes easily with a fork. If you overcook seafood it will toughen up and lose a lot of its natural flavors. A good rule of thumb to follow when preparing fish is to cook it about 10 minutes per inch of flesh, measured from the thickest part. (Conventional cooking only, not microwaving.)

Seafood can be cooked using a variety of methods besides traditional frying. Why not try poaching, steaming, baking, broiling, sauteing, or microwaving your next fish or shellfish meal? It’s healthier than frying and can be more flavorful.

Poaching is really easy. Simply bring a seasoned liquid — water, milk, wine, etc. — to a boil then simmer it for about 10 minutes. Next, add your fish, cover and simmer until done.

Steaming is surprisingly simple. It’s especially easy if you happen to have one of those specially designed steaming pots. If not, don’t despair … just use a rack of some sort to suspend the seafood a couple of inches above the boiling water. Cover and steam until done.

For broiling, place your fish on a broiling pan and brush it with a sauce of melted margarine and/or olive oil combined with lemon juice and herbs and spices. Broil four or five inches from the heat source, without turning, until done.

For sauteing, in a frying pan, heat a little margarine and/or olive oil with a liquid such as water or white wine. Add some chopped mushrooms, green onions, lemon juice, and your favorite seafood. Saute this mixture over medium-high heat until it’s done.

An excellent method of cooking seafood is by microwaving. Just put the fish or shellfish in a microwave-safe dish, add seasonings and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Cook for about three minutes per pound or follow the manufacturer’s directions. It doesn’t get any easier than that, and cleanup is a cinch.

Herbs and spices can be used in place of salt and can be combined to produce flavorful seafood dishes with a creative flair. If you are not familiar with using herbs and spices, here’s a simple way to get started. Combine ¼ teaspoon of one or two herbs or spices per pound of seafood. Some common herbs and spices that work well with seafood are allspice, sweet basil, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, celery seed/leaves, chervil, curry powder, dill seed/weed, fennel seed, garlic powder, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, and thyme.

Other seasonings like garlic, lemon, and wine can be combined with the herbs and spices with interesting results. Some good combinations are basil, marjoram, and oregano; garlic powder and lemon; or parsley and tarragon.

Be bold and creative and see what happens. Spice up your life with seafood. In today’s health conscious society, eat foods that are lower in calories, sodium, and fat; and consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, skim milk products, and low-fat protein sources. Seafood fits right in and complements these new health trends.

A wide variety of seafood products are available, which provide an excellent high protein source that is great for low-calorie, low-fat cooking.

###

Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Specialist for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Seafood | 1 Comment

Louisiana Sea Grant on KLRZ 100.3 FM Thursday, July 18, 2013

 otr-mikeLocal Sea Grant agents Julie Falgout and I will be doing the LSU AgCenter radio show from 11:00 AM until Noon on Thursday, July 18, 2013.

The LSU AgCenter show is held weekly on KLRZ 100.3 FM. It can be accessed in our local area on FM radio or worldwide on the Internet at www.klrzfm.com. (Note that you may have to use Internet Explore to hear the live stream, as it does not seem to work on my Chrome browser.)

If you have any interests or concerns about all things coastal, fisheries, and wildlife — especially the seafood industry and direct seafood marketing — tune in. Also, since this is a call-in show, if you have any questions or comments, please call-in (985-798-1003) and we’ll do our best to discuss the issues with you.

Posted in Coastal Issues, Fisheries, Seafood | Leave a comment

Rip currents: Break the grip of the rip!

News Column: COASTAL CURRENTS
Submitted: July 3, 2013
Alan Matherne, Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Agent
Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption Parishes; LSU AgCenter/Sea Grant

Rip currents: Break the grip of the rip!

“Rip Currents: Break the Grip of The Rip!” is the slogan for a nationwide campaign to make people aware of the dangers of rip currents and how to escape them safely. Each year over one hundred people drown in rip currents. Just last month four people (one from Louisiana) drowned in rip currents on the Alabama coast. A few years ago (2009), in Grand Isle, a young girl from Baton Rouge was rescued from a rip current by two Houma brothers.

Rip currents are channelized currents of water that flow away from the beach shore out into the gulf or ocean. They’re formed when waves break near the shoreline, piling up water along the shore. The water seeks to escape from the shoreline area and return back offshore. This sometimes results in a narrow stream of water that moves quickly offshore … a rip current. People sometimes call these currents “undertows” or “riptides”, but those terms are not correct and should not be used when talking about rip currents. Rip currents pull people out to sea not under.

Rip currents can be as narrow as 10 to 20 feet or as much as ten times wider than that. Sometimes the water in rip currents can travel very slowly, almost unnoticeable. At other times these currents can flow at speeds of over five miles per hour, faster than an Olympic swimmer can swim.

So, what to do if you’re caught in a rip current? First, don’t panic and don’t try to swim against the current. Rip currents generally only go out a short ways offshore, then pan out. It’s sort of like being caught on a treadmill: no matter how fast you walk forward, you can’t get off. The thing to do is to either quit walking and be pulled off, or step to the left or the right and get off. The same principle applies to rip currents. Don’t swim against them. Either let the current pull you out then swim back, at an angle, to the bank, or just swim to the left or the right of the current, parallel to the shore. Once out of the rip current, then swim back to shore.

A NOAA fact sheet on rip currents suggests that if caught in one:

- Try to remain calm to conserve energy.
- Don’t fight the current.
- Think of it like a treadmill you can’t turn off. You want to step to the side of it.
- Swim across the current in a direction following the shoreline.
- When out of the current, swim and angle away from the current and towards shore.
- If you can’t escape this, try to float, or calmly tread water. Rip current strength eventually subsides offshore.
- If at any time you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself: face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.

More information concerning rip currents — what they are, the dangers, and how to escape — is available at NOAA’s National Weather Service Rip Current Safety website: www.ripcurrents.noaa.gov.

###

Alan Matherne is the LSU AgCenter / Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal & Fisheries Outreach Agent for Terrebonne, Lafourche, and Assumption parishes. He can be contacted at 985-873-6495 or amatherne@agcenter.lsu.edu. His articles and blogs are posted at bayoulog.com. You can “Friend” him on Facebook at facebook.com/alan.matherne and follow his “Tweets” on Twitter at twitter.com/amatherne.

Posted in Coastal Currents, Coastal Issues | Leave a comment