B.A.S.S. pro Iaconelli supports Vanishing Paradise effort

Bassmaster Elite Series pro and national fishing show host Michael Iaconelli, who will compete in the Bassmaster Classic set for New Orleans later this month, has announced his support of the Vanishing Paradise program that aims to raise awareness of the need to restore and protect Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation announced today (Feb. 2).

“The Louisiana Delta is an incredible fishery because you have so many places you can go and catch a lot of different kinds of fish,” Iaconelli said. “I am very excited to have the opportunity to fish another Classic in these waters. This place is special, and we need to do all we can to save these coastal marshes and swamps.”

Iaconelli, who hosts City Limits Fishing on Versus Network, knows first hand just how productive the fisheries can be along the Louisiana coast: He won the 2003 Bassmaster Classic fishing in Venice’s Delta Duck.

Iaconelli’s Professional Edge Fishing has joined with more than 350 businesses and organizations nation-wide, including Ducks Unlimited and The International Hunter Education Association in signing a sportsmen’s letter to the United States Congress urging it to dedicate resources to build desperately-needed projects to restore Louisiana’s coastal habitats.

Click here to read the letter. Organizations can sign on to the effort by filling out the short form below the letter.

Iaconelli, who credits his 2003 Classic championship with helping to cement his professional fishing career, said the coastline continues to be one of the most amazing fisheries he’s ever fished.

“When scouting for the upcoming Classic, we found plenty of bass, caught a bunch of redfish and experienced some of the best fishing anywhere in the country,” he said. “Louisiana’s coast is a place fishermen across our country should come and experience and want to save.

“I’m certain that this year’s Classic will be just the event to show that.”

More than 2,100 square miles of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, islands and swamps have washed away in the past 80 years while levees and navigation projects built along the Mississippi River have isolated it from the delta it built. That, combined with man-made navigation channels cut through the marsh led to the fastest land loss rate in the world.

The continued loss threatens to destroy habitat vital for a variety of fish like bass, redfish and speckled trout, as well as shrimp, oysters and crabs, and has made Louisiana’s coastal communities much more vulnerable to flooding from storm surges. It also has led to far less habitat for the roughly 10 million ducks and geese that use Louisiana as wintering grounds.

“We are very excited that Mike and several more of the best anglers in the world are headed here to fish the Bassmaster Classic because we want the world to see how wonderful our fishing is,” Louisiana Wildlife Federation Coastal Outreach Coordinator Chris Macaluso said. “But we also need those fishing the tournament and watching the coverage to understand that our coastal land loss is so severe that a lot of the marsh that will be fished won’t be here in 10 years.

“We must put the Mississippi River back to work and start rebuilding this coast.”

More information about efforts to restore Louisiana’s vital coastal habitats can be found at www.vanishingparadise.org and www.lawildlifefed.org/coastal.

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