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The Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association West presented a plaque to Lafayette Attorneys Joseph Joy to honor the two lawyers’ many years of protecting the rights of fishermen to access the Atchafalaya Basin. The nonprofit organization, committed to preserving the right to navigable waters and water quality in the Atchafalaya Basin,  presented Joseph Joy with the Atchafalaya Angel award:

“… with respect and appreciation, we recognize Joseph Joy for his heroic efforts of representing us with our many issues and for helping protect our Cajun way of life. You are an Angel of the Basin!”

“We are deeply grateful to the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association West for honoring us with their Atchafalaya Angel award.  It is our privilege to protect the rights of crawfishermen and commercial fishermen throughout Louisiana,” Joseph Joy said.

The law firm of Joseph Joy and Associates has argued for years that the vast majority of the Atchafalaya Basin is navigable. “The Atchafalaya Basin fluctuates between 12 to 15 feet a year. In some places it is dry but that doesn’t matter. It is all navigable,” Attorney Joseph Joy insisted.

The law firm of Joseph Joy and Associates has a history of litigating the navigability of the waterway, proving that the  Atchafalaya is for the most part, a navigable waterway and should remain accessible to fishermen throughout the year.  The navigability of the Basin is supported by its history as a historic fishing ground and the fact that it has long been fished for commercial purposes. “The Atchafalaya Basin is the largest overflow swamp in North America but even when the water is low it is still navigable,” Attorney Joseph Joy insists.

The law firm of Joseph Joy and Associates proved the navigability in a landmark pipeline case as well, successfully arguing to the court in 2010 that the work of pipeline companies, including surveyors and others, had caused spoil banks that were acting as dams obstructing the navigable flow of the water, in violation of Louisiana wildlife and fisheries permits. In addition, fishermen were not able to access areas of the Basin and the dams were causing stagnated water.  “Those who claim the water bottoms as their private property were making false claims,” Joseph Joy insisted. The law firm of Joseph Joy and Associates was successful and the court ordered each defendant company to comply with their permits, freeing up the fisherman’s access.

In the course of their research, the attorneys at Joseph Joy and Associates made a striking discovery. “As navigable waters, the Atchafalaya Basin is state property and Louisiana should be reaping tax revenue. Our state is losing out by failing to collect revenue on what is essentially state property,” Joy insists. “Corporations and private citizens are claiming ownership of land that is essentially owned by the government. Not only is the State of Louisiana missing out on millions of much-needed state tax revenue, local fishermen are being denied their right to these waters.”

In addition to litigating the issue of navigability, the law firm of Joseph Joy and Associates is frequently called upon to represent many fishermen wrongfully accused of trespassing.  It is not uncommon for private landowners to wrongfully lay claim to areas of the Basin. The law firm of Joseph Joy and Associates knows how to set the record straight.

If you are a fisherman and cited for trespassing in the Atchafalaya Basin, we offer the following tips:

  • Mind your temper. If you are cited, simply call our offices immediately .
  • Do not argue or confront the official or purported landowner.
  • Simply accept the citation, leave the area, call our office.

Call our legal team at Joseph Joy and Associates in Lafayette if you are being denied access to waterways that are navigable.  Give us a call: 337-232-8123 or visit us at 900 S. College Rd., Ste. 204, Lafayette, LA.


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