While the nation celebrates its freedom on the Fourth of July, many Louisiana fishermen will spend the long weekend doing what they do nearly every weekend — exercising their right to fish.
Yes, their right to fish.
According to the state constitution of Louisiana, citizens are guaranteed “the freedom to hunt, fish and trap wildlife, including all aquatic life, traditionally taken by hunters, trappers and anglers.”
The fishing rights are listed in Article I, under the “Declaration of Rights.” It’s the last in a string of rights that includes some biggies, such as the right to a fair trial and freedom of religion.
For Louisianans, fishing isn’t just a way to put food on the table and earn a wage — though it’s certainly both of those things. Casting a line into the marshes and open waters is also a “valued natural heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people.”
Seafood is part of the cultural backbone of the state, inextricably linked with Louisianans’ way of life. So it doesn’t entirely surprise a person to hear that fishing is a privilege guaranteed by the state’s constitution, which was re-penned in 1974 (the original being so full of Napoleonic code that it had to be redone).
Around here, fishing is as “American” as a picnic and fireworks on the Fourth of July.