The National Marine Manufacturers Association is lobbying against a recent court ruling in Louisiana that restricts hunting and fishing along the flooded Mississippi River. But the association says the impact of the ruling is not as sweeping as some groups have claimed.
"I understand the concerns of our avid outdoorsmen and women, but I want to assure them that this very strict and narrow decision will not impact legitimate and legal boating, hunting and fishing," Monita Fontaine, NMMA vice president and senior counsel for government relations said in a statement. "We expect this ruling to be overturned, and NMMA will stay on top of the situation to ensure public water access rights are not infringed upon."
The heart of the case is whether flooded areas along the Mississippi River are considered navigable waters or private waters that belong to the landowner of the flooded land beneath. The Aug. 29 ruling by Judge Robert James of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana would make hunting and fishing on such areas outside the main river channel a criminal trespassing offense in Louisiana.
The case stems from six men arrested on criminal trespassing charges while fishing on a portion of the Mississippi River's flooded bank in Louisiana. In response, the men filed a civil suit against the arresting sheriff, arguing the arrest was made without probable cause.
In the wake of the case, many individuals and groups have made public claims, contending the ruling would ban boating on the river, and some claimed it would ban boating outright in the United States.
The NMMA says that interpretation is not correct. However, the NMMA disagrees "strongly" with the ruling. The NMMA says it will continue to monitor the litigation to ensure legitimate water access rights are not infringed upon and take appropriate action, if necessary.
Another hearing is slated in November.