The Wild Side for Sunday, July 1, 2012

Friday was a great day: News came from Washington, D.C., that the RESTORE Act was passed and that federal fisheries managers extended the recreational red snapper season by six days.

It started with a trip to Breton Sound and a trout-limit fishing trip that showed how much we need to make sure the billions of dollars coming from RESTORE goes to the right places and is handled by just-right managers to refurbish our wasting-away marshes and coastline.

All that followed last week’s news that Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s must-see “Turning the Tide” was among the honorees receiving the 2012 International CINE Golden Eagle, and that old friend Camp Matens was named our state’s recreational fishing rep on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

There’s a lot of atta-boys to pass along when it comes to getting the RESTORE Act pushed through Congress. Our Congressional delegation, led by Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Steve Scalise, can take a bow. But there are dozens of others here and around the country who trekked to Washington in the last months to get the word to congressmen around the country that 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines meted out to the parties involved in the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster should go to the five Gulf of Mexico states.

Compounding a successful push toward that goal was that the fines are estimated to be in the many billions of dollars. An early estimate ran as high as $20 billion, but has settled down from that lately — and anyone who pays attention to matters like this knows how tough it is to get other states’ electeds to agree to send that kind of money anywhere but their way.

Congratulations to all those who worked so hard.

Problem is, their work is half over: Now they must work as hard in the five Gulf states to make sure RESTORE money is put to work properly and doesn’t find its way in lining pockets instead of lining out the coast.

Red snapper

After getting a push from Congress, notably Louisiana Congressmen Jeff Landry and Florida Rep. Steve Southerland, federal fisheries folks extended the recreational red snapper six days to a close at 12:01 a.m. local time July 17 across the Gulf. Landry and Southerland cited lost fishing days because of Tropical Storm Debby as the reason for the call to extend the season.

The Council

Camp Matens, of Baton Rouge, is one of three newly named folks on the 17-member GMFMC. Corky Perret, who retired from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and now works in Mississippi, is another new name on the council. Perret’s in one of the “at-large” seats, as is Louisianan Harlon Pearce, who is back for another term.

Other appointments included Johnny Greene, of Alabama, and John Sanchez, of Florida.