Guest Blog: Venice Needs You!

This blog by Gerry Bethge originally ran on Outdoor Life

The days and months after Hurricane Katrina hit Venice, Louisiana dead center were bleaker than anyone in the inshore or offshore fishing industry could have ever imagined. Marinas were destroyed, boats were sunk, most motels and homes simply ceased to exist. Infrastructure and economic recovery seemed a long-shot at best and this area long-recognized as one of if not the very best fishing destinations in North America seemed destined for status as a footnote in fishing folklore. But the recreational fishing industry of Venice, Louisiana would have none of it. Indeed, their message just a couple of weeks after the devastation of Katrina was crystal clear-"Come Fish With Us!" The fishermen did return and despite the poor economy skippers were operating at or near capacity for spring and summer months.

Charter boat captains in an around the Venice area are shouting the very same mantra again--perhaps even more loudly--despite a 10-day fishing restriction issued by NOAA for federal waters from the mouth of the Mississippi to waters off Pensacola, Florida.

"Right now, there are only six or so offshore rigs that we are not allowed to fish," says Devlin Roussel of Reelpeace Charters. "There are dozens and dozens of other rigs out of Southwest Pass and well west of the Deepwater Horizon which remain largely unaffected by the oil spill. Sadly the media has made it seem as if all is doom and gloom here in Venice and everything fishing-wise has come to an end, it's just not the case."

It's also not likely that President Barack Obama's vow of 'relentless' response to the clean-up effort has provided any calm or clarity.

"It's honestly setting up exactly like it did in the wake of Katrina," says Roussel.

Although it's certainly far too soon to ascertain the long-term environmental ramifications of the Horizon disaster, for now quality inshore and offshore fishing is not completely off-limits despite claims to the contrary and the only chance the fishing industry in and around southern Louisiana can survive is if we fishermen continue to support them. Go fishing.