The state of Lousiana is beginning the long process of rebuilding fish stocks in the Pearl River, which suffered a massive fish kill earlier this year after a paper mill’s illegal discharge.

From this story in the St. Tammany News:

Wednesday afternoon, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries started one step in the long process of rehabilitating the ecosystem of the Pearl River. The LDWF released 30,000 channel catfish and 24,000 bluegill fingerlings into the river at the Highway 59 Boat Launch in Pearl River, in an effort to boost the fish population back to its pre-August levels.

_Over 500,000 fish in the river died from oxygen depletion in both St. Tammany and Washington parishes in August, after the Temple-Inland paper plant in Bogalusa released “black ink,” a combination of burnt wood pulp and chemicals in quantities that far exceeded levels set by the Department of Environmental Quality. Some of the fish that died were the rare Gulf sturgeon, which is on the federal endangered species list. Also killed were trout, eels, and mussels. _

Ashley Wethey, spokesperson for the LDWF said that the channel catfish and bluegill fingerlings were chosen because they are the natural species of the Pearl River, and the LDWF had raised them at their own hatchery in central Louisiana, and that the fingerlings were left over from other orders of fish releases. “This is just to kick start the process,” Wethey said. “This is not the end of our efforts to get the Pearl River back to where it was.” She said that there would be many more fish releases in the future. She said the LDWF expects the Pearl River to fully recover in about three years.