The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has closed commercial and recreational fishing in an area south of Port Sulphur in Plaquemines Parish following the discovery of tilapia in public waterways in the vicinity.

The decision was made by LDWF Secretary Robert Barham, as authorized by the Administrative Procedure Act, and is effective today, May 5, 2009 until further notice. 

The closure includes both public and private waters bounded on the north by St. Jude Road, on the east by the Mississippi River main levee, on the south by Milan Drive and on the west by the back levee of the drainage ditch. Effective with the closure, no person shall take or possess or attempt to take any species of fish from waters within the closed area. No person shall possess while on the waters of the closed area any fishing gear capable of taking fish. This area will remain closed to fishing until reopened by the LDWF Secretary.

Tilapia, fish native to Africa, are exotic species capable of displacing native fish and are currently prohibited from being possessed in Louisiana except under extremely restrictive permits issued to tilapia producers. It appears the tilapia are currently confined to an area that can be treated. If allowed to spread, tilapia could result in drastic environmental, recreational and economical impacts, and fishermen, both commercial and recreational, could be pathways that spread tilapia into other Louisiana waters.

During the closure, a staged application of the fish toxicant rotenone will be led by the LDWF Office of Fisheries in an effort to eradicate the tilapia that exist in affected waterways. Rotenone, a naturally derived fish toxicant, is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and will dissipate over time within the waterway where it is used.

Any fisherman landing a tilapia, outside of the closure area, is asked to contact LDWF Inland Fisheries at 225-765-2865 during regular business hours.