Act 577, authored by Sen. Bret Allain of Franklin during the 2014 Legislative session, allows participating retail food establishments to prepare certain recreational game fish. Any retail food establishment that wishes to participate in the program can apply to the Department for a participation permit.
“The Catch and Cook Program allows fresh caught Louisiana game fish to be served in our Louisiana restaurants, what could be better than that?” asked Sen. Allain. “It promotes recreational and charter fishing along with some of the best restaurants in the world. This program highlights what Louisiana is famous for.”
There is no fee to apply for the permit, and participating restaurants may charge the guest any amount they choose for preparing the item. The guest providing the fish must execute an assumption of risk relieving the establishment of any responsibility. Fish must be cleaned and processed beforehand and can only be served to the party who caught the fish.
“This program is a wonderful opportunity to promote the state’s nearly $2 billion recreational fishing industry while simultaneously showcasing Louisiana’s top-notch dining establishments,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “Anglers, especially those traveling to the Sportsman’s Paradise to take part in our first-class fishing, are looking to add value to their experience and the Catch and Cook Program does exactly that.”
Sen. Allain recently took to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico out of Barataria with fellow members of the Louisiana Legislature and outdoor media to promote the new program. Captain Theophile Bourgeois of Bourgeois Fishing Charters hosted the group.
To date, 14 restaurants have signed on to the program, and LDWF expects more to join as it gains more publicity. The Louisiana Restaurant Association is currently working with the Department and Sen. Allain’s office to further promote program awareness amongst the restaurant community.
“What helps identify Louisiana’s cuisine as unique is not only how we prepare our dishes, but what we prepare,” said Stan Harris, President and CEO, Louisiana Restaurant Association. “The Catch and Cook Program allows a recreational angler to have their catch prepared by our world-class restaurants, creating a pathway to serve species we can’t currently offer. We encourage our LRA members to consider opting in to this new program.”
Galatoire’s, located in the French Quarter, is already a Catch and Cook participant and hosted Sen. Allain’s fishing group following their day on the water.
“We are committed to serving the freshest of Louisiana’s indigenous seafood bounty,” said Melvin Rodrigue, President and CEO, Galatoire’s Restaurant. “Many of our patrons are avid fishermen and the opportunity to prepare their catch with Galatoire’s signature style is one we are pleased to accommodate through the Catch and Cook Program.”
The Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana is also a strong supporter of the new program.
“Louisiana is home to some of the world’s best recreational fishing and some of the world’s best restaurants, and each attracts countless visitors to our state each year,” said David Cresson, CEO of Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana. “Sen. Allain’s innovative Catch and Cook Program allows visitors and locals alike to combine the two, enriching both the experience on the water and at the table.”
For guidelines or to participate in the Catch and Cook Program, visit www.fishla.org/catch-and-cook/.
“Nothing wraps up a long day on the water better than the smell of fish sizzling on the grill, but not all anglers prefer to cook their own catch,” explained LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “So why not leave it to the professionals?”