Tens of thousands of catfish and bluegill fingerlings were stocked in Pearl River recently in a first step toward restoring the water way following massive fish kills caused by a spill at the Temple-Inland Paper Mill in August, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced yesterday (Nov. 2).

Biologists have estimated that more than 500,000 fish and freshwater mussels died when so-called "black liquor" was dumped into the Pearl River from the Bogalusa plant.

LDWF said the stockings of channel catfish and bream are intended to speed up the natural recovery process.

"The department recognizes how important fishing in the Pearl River is to the local communities and anglers of south Louisiana," LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina said. "And we are making great efforts to restore the river as quickly as possible."

The fish were raised and distributed from the Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery in central Louisiana.  The native fish were spawned this spring and are less than a year old.

"This is a healthy batch of fish," LDWF's Mike Wood said. "They are about 4 to 5 inches long and average 40 fish per pound. Because of their size, survival rates are expected to be high.
"The fish were dispersed in multiple areas with optimal habitat to increase their chances of survival."

The Department is currently in the preliminary assessment stages following the fish kill, and prescribed values for each impacted fish and mussel were recently submitted to Temple-Inland for review.

Read more about the fish kill.