Two bills have been filed in Baton Rouge that would cripple the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. Before proceeding down this path, we should all remember: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The Seafood Board was created nearly 30 years ago by and for the seafood industry without the urging of any particular state agency or officials. The industry, through its own volition, had the foresight to increase license fees and dedicate the funds in support of much-needed marketing, promotional and educational programs. Throughout the years, the LSPMB has maintained a stellar track record. Board members have unselfishly given their time and talents to establish programs that have been replicated by other state seafood marketing programs.
During my 13 years as the board’s first executive director, Seafood Business magazine recognized the LSPMB with the prestigious National Seafood Marketing Excellence Award. In recent years, the board has taken the leadership role in restoring consumer confidence in Louisiana seafood following the Deepwater Horizon oil Leak.
Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winfield, has introduced a bill that would strip the board of its authority and transfer all power and control of funds to the secretary of Wildlife and Fisheries. Another bill by Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, would transfer the board to the Department of Tourism. Both claim it is in the best interest of the industry. They purport such a move would eliminate any possible conflicts of interest or potential ethics violation for the board members. But these claims are based in subterfuge and hollow rhetoric.
What is clear is that the board has been awarded $30 million by BP to support its marketing and promotional programs. Additional BP funds may also become available to the board. Now, after 30 years of noninterference, certain state officials suddenly claim to know what is best for the seafood industry.
Is it possible that biologists, game wardens and tourism officials can suddenly morph into seafood marketing specialists with greater expertise than members of the seafood industry itself? Please, not so quick. Clearly, this is a money grab.
As I said in the beginning, if it ain’t broke, then don’t try to fix it with unwarranted and unwanted governmental interference. I urge my fellow citizens — especially those who make their living from seafood — to see this ruse for what it is, a naked money grab by government bureaucrats.
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