The Atchafalaya Basin: Waters for Livelihood and Litigation
The Atchafalaya Basin, also known as the Atchafalaya Swamp, is the nation’s largest river swamp, containing almost one million acres of the nation’s most significant bottomland hardwoods, swamps, bayous and backwater lakes, according to atchafalaya.org. It meanders from near Simmesport, Louisiana, southward past Pierre Part down to Morgan City and the Gulf of Mexico. The Atchafalaya is a long river, and covers an area 20 miles wide and 150 miles long, indicates louisiana-destinations.com.
The Atchafalaya Basin has an estimated average annual commercial harvest of nearly 22 million pounds of crawfish. The Louisiana staple is the main ingredient for meals such as boiled crawfish and étouffées and is sold nationally. However, a private company’s actions sometimes damage the basin. Alleged private landowners also may refuse to let commercial fishermen use the basin. Louisiana has a lengthy history of alleged private property owners claiming that they own part of the basin. They remove crawfishermen’s commercial traps and prevent them from using the river basin. “No trespassing” signs are also nailed high on cypress trunks to warn crawfishermen passing by in their boats.
Alleged landowners cannot infringe upon the traditional and legal right of fishermen and crawfishermen to go anywhere the water can carry them. The basin provides food for families, and it is a way of life for some who make a living from it. As a navigable water bottom, the state owns the basin, not private property owners. The public has a right to go into the basin and enjoy what it has to offer. This right cannot be encumbered by anyone who claims private property ownership. Alleged landowners must be able to show proof of ownership from deeds and government surveys of the bottomlands.
The lawyers at Joseph Joy & Associates have experience representing commercial crawfishermen and the general public to protect their rights against alleged private property owners who prohibit them from using the Atchafalaya Basin’s waterways that are accessible to all. Joseph Joy & Associates also handles personal injury claims for boat accidents and litigate environmental destruction claims against companies that pollute the basin. If you are a fisherman and your rights have been infringed upon, call Joseph Joy & Associates for legal help today!