Our history is also our present and our future. Through the grassroots efforts of our leadership and commitment from our partners, the programs that began almost two decades ago continue to produce vital habitat and educational benefits to anglers today. The future programs of RFRI are firmly ingrained in its past. Below are programs that paved that foundation of education RFRI is proud to endorse.
TAG Louisiana “Louisiana Cooperative Marine Sportfish Tagging Program” – The importance of tagging studies has been well established as far back as early as the 17th century. It was with great vision that in 1987 the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana created a redfish tag and recapture program. During 1995 the program was the premiere program in the nation with over 200 active volunteer anglers and 10,000 fish tagged. However, after these initial successes the program slowly lost its steam and direction mainly due to the withdrawal of support from National Marine Fisheries Service. In 1999, the RFRI stepped in and through its leadership, diverse partnership building and grassroots education efforts nurtured this program back to and beyond its early successes. Today, thanks to the RFRI’s efforts, CCA-Louisiana, LDWF, LSU, and UNO have refocused the tagging program to introduce volunteer anglers to more qualitative or “scientific” methods for reporting their tag and recapture information. The more precise the data will yield information that can be used in better understand the unique life histories of fish. These volunteer anglers provide information that is difficult, often impossible, and expensive to obtain by other means. It was the RFRI that coined the phrases “Citizen Scientist” and “Fish with a Purpose” while redesigning this program to employ and educate anglers about the importance and need for management and conservation through their participation. Once again the RFRI is called upon to right the ship! In 2017, Through 2016, the program has more than 282,000 fish tagged by 5,000 anglers and nearly 12,000 recaptures. In the Fall of 2016, the state of LA discontinued funding of most of the funding for popular TAG Louisiana program and by July of 2018 it will all be gone. Once again CCA Louisiana has tapped the RFRI to save the day. On July 2017, RFRI announced its renewed role in TAG Louisiana and quickly secured a $50,000 donation to support the program. Over the next two years RFRI will redefine TAG Louisiana through its Citizen Scientist Initiative and Fish With a Propose resolve!
“Inshore Artificial Reef Program” – The creation of inshore reefs provide two main benefits: they assist in reducing coastal erosion and restore hard bottom and essential fish habitats where it had previously existed. The genesis of this program was to provide the road map to a long-term statewide inshore artificial reef plan. To that end, in 2003 the RFRI was awarded a grant from the Shell Marine Habitat Program through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The 11-acre reef Bay Ronquille Habitat Restoration Project was established with this grant ($49,900) and was matched through a fundraising effort ($77,992) totaling $127,892. This pioneering reef was so successful that it has been copied 12 times along Louisiana’s coast since. In fact, in 2014 the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries released the Louisiana Inshore Artificial Reef Plan, and it was this project that started it all!
Live Catch and Release Redfish Tournaments – Since its inception, the RFRI used saltwater fishing tournaments as the focus of its conservation and education efforts. By 2007 the traditional “kill” type rodeo format was dropped and from 2007 through 2009 replaced with the RFRI Plaquemines Parish Redfish Series, a true “live” catch and release style. It was this RFRI tournament that lead to the creation of the state sponsored and highly popular Louisiana Saltwater Series (LASS). The LASS was developed in 2010 by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in conjunction with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation to promote the conservation of Louisiana’s sport fish resources. Through this “catch, tag, and release” saltwater fishing series, LDWF strives to enhance the resource while providing a competitive opportunity for avid fishermen and newcomers alike. Data collected from the tournament entries will serve as a valuable tool for LDWF fisheries managers and biologists to understand the life history and habitat of sport fish. With low entry fees, tournaments allow anglers to fish close to home and compete for cash prizes while simultaneously giving back to the resource through tag and release fishing.
Since 2010, 4,644 fish have been tagged in LA Saltwater Series tournaments with 430 recaptures, a 9.3% recapture rate.
RFRI is excited to introduce you to the innovative projects on the horizon. Click here for information on future programs!