"Restore Our Water Access, Inc.," a Louisiana fishing organization known as ROWA, along with 40 other national and statewide fishing and boating organizations, has filed an amicus brief with the U. S. Supreme Court in support of the public's right to fish and boat on the navigable waters of America, including the Mississippi River.
Artie Nevels, President of ROWA, said, "In 1873, in The Slaughterhouse Cases, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the public's right to boat and fish on navigable waters was a common right of all U.S. citizens. The arrest of the five Louisiana fishermen fishing the Mississippi River violated those men's rights of citizenship. This is a national crusade to re-affirm the public's right to fish, hunt and boat on America's navigable waters. ROWA is proud to be the national leader in restoring America's access to public waters from California to Maine."
The five Louisiana fishermen arrested while fishing on the Mississippi River filed their application for another appeal to the United States Supreme Court on April 15, 2008. On May 15, 2008, 40 national and state-wide conservation and fishing groups joined the Louisiana Fishermen in their defense of fishing on navigable waters.
The amicus brief is a pleading used by persons who have a vital interest in the matter before the Court and desire to support one side of the argument. In this case, groups from twenty-five of the states, including all the states that border the Mississippi River, have joined in the fight to re-affirm under federal law the public's right to use the navigable rivers of America up to normal high water. Also joining the brief are groups from Wisconsin, Connecticut, Colorado, New Mexico, California, Maine, Minnesota and Oregon.
These forty fishing, boating and conservation groups hired Emory Law School Professor, David Bedermen, to prepare the brief for the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Bedermen is an experienced appellate attorney and legal expert on national water rights.
ROWA, as the leading Louisiana advocacy group that supports recreational use of all of Louisiana's public waters, was the moving force in organizing the national support for the Louisiana fishermen.
"With the joining of these national fishing and conservation groups in common support of public recreational use of America's navigable waters," Nevels said, "the legal stage has been set at the Supreme Court to re-affirm the public's right to use navigable waters of America.
"At its 2007 annual meeting the National Wildlife Federal passed a resolution supporting public recreational use of navigable waters up to normal high water. In May 2008, the Louisiana Recreational Freshwater Fishing Taskforce under the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department, also passed a resolution in support of public fishing in navigable waters. Public access to navigable waters for fishing and boating is a national movement"