NOWFE supports Louisiana fishermen


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The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience and chef John Besh raise funds to support the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation.

By Jennifer J. Kilbourne

Photo courtesy of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

The New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) celebrates Louisiana seafood at Saturday's Grand Tasting in the Superdome with cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, and proceeds from the day benefit the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, which was recently added the nonprofit’s list of beneficiaries.

Food Network stars Paula Deen and Aaron Sanchez and award-winning local chef John Besh will prepare dishes that highlight Louisiana seafood. ??And the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board sponsors its annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, in which 11 local chefs will compete for top honors. The winner will compete in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in August.

The extent and impact of the BP disaster on Louisiana fisheries is still uncertain. Ashley Ross, a representative of the Louisiana Seafood Board, says crawfish, catfish and alligator — freshwater species — aren't in jeopardy right now, and the availability of saltwater harvests of shrimp and crab will continue to change with the tides.?? Coastal fisheries currently are being affected.

"All species of finfish are likely to be impacted by the spill," says A. Kell McInnis III, director of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation funds research projects of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Department is currently engaged in a long-term project monitoring species migration. Fish are caught, tagged with monitoring devices, and released back into the Gulf.

"The main concern at this point is: Will the fish that hatched this year show up next year?"?? Mr. McInnis.

Local restaurants rely on the supply of local seafood both for its proximity, abundance and as the basis of Creole and Cajun cooking. Besh says his six restaurants use 500 pounds of shrimp, 100 pounds of crab, and 500 pounds of finfish (such as flounder, sheepshead and grouper) from the Gulf each day. To show his support for Louisiana fishermen, Besh hosts a fundraising dinner at Restaurant August Saturday night. Paula Deen will be a guest of honor at the event.

"If we don't take a stand now and protect the cycle between the ecosystem and the local fishermen, then none of it will be around for future generations," Besh says.

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