LDWF enthralled with BP money

Oil-spill suit trumps science

“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

Thus the Bible warns that lusting after money can lead people astray.

That wisdom seems to have been forgotten by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials in the wake of 2010’s BP oil spill, a fact that was highlighted when the annual request by Louisiana Sportsman to interview LDWF’s trout experts about the health of the fishery was nixed.

For 20 years the trout forecast has not only educated coastal anglers on one of the state’s most-popular fisheries but also provided a glimpse into important LDWF research.

So why would an agency decline to provide information about what it does to its consitutuency?

BP money.

Or more accurately, the pursuit of BP money.

According to LDWF’s Randy Pausina, the agency now has to pass all information requests by state lawyers in charge of the great BP cash grab, and those attorneys apparently worry that releasing information about a healthy speckled trout fishery will undermine their case.

“I spoke to the attorneys; they are not comfortable with releasing the majority of what (biologist) Harry (Blanchet) produced,” Pausina wrote in a March 6 email. “The info they approved is extremely limited and would not be of real value; therefore, we will not be releasing the info at this time.”

That note was a stunning admission that science is no longer of primary concern. Instead, everything is now framed by the pursuit of BP money — money that hasn’t been necessary for LDWF to perform its job for decades.

What is most alarming is not that a group of lawyers want as little information as possible getting out to the public: That’s what lawyers do.

No, what’s most disturbing is that LDWF officials — whether on orders of Secretary Robert Barham or Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration — didn’t laugh and grant the request anyway.

Then again, maybe it’s just part of the pattern that emerged almost as soon as oil began spewing from the floor of the Gulf.

After stubbornly refusing to reopen fishing during the spill in the face of its own admission there could be no public danger, LDWF collected $2.56 million for lost license revenue.

Now those same officials refuse to tell the public it professes to serve what its staff has found in the course of its job.

Obviously, visions of a multi-million dollar windfall have led our governmental officials off the path of wisdom. And that should be a concern for anyone who buys hunting and fishing licenses.

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About Andy Crawford 863 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.

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