The issue of red snapper and the development of Louisiana’s plan to manage red snapper for the private sector of recreationally caught red snapper is a top item on Thursday’s agenda for the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.

The meeting is scheduled to convene at 9:30 a.m. at state Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge.

Agenda item No. 13 is “To hear a presentation on information relating to the management of Red Snapper and related costs,” with the next item titled, “To hear an update on the Red Snapper Season.”

Furor arose in the past two weeks after Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves’ sponsored bill calling for state management of red snapper for recreational anglers cleared the U.S. House’s Natural Resources Committee.

While not outlined specifically by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Secretary Charlie Melancon nor his staff, Melancon objected to the bill because it did not contain adequate funding for state management of the species.

A second move, approved during June’s Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, added more fuel to the fire. The motion, offered by the LDWF stated: “To direct staff to create a new amendment for management of red snapper for the private recreational fishery in the Gulf of Mexico considering all options including regional management with input from the Ad Hoc Private Recreational Advisory Panel.” The motion passed 9-6, and came after the GMFMC approved the creation of the Private Recreational Advisory Panel, an action opposed by several recreational fishing organizations.

The issue became even more muddied when the LDWF issued a follow-up to the GMFMC meeting, because neither the council nor the LDWF outlined specific goals in any management scheme for private recreational fishermen.

The LDWF release stated the council “approved the development of an amendment proposed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to establish a framework that would allow for regional, state-based management of the private recreational red snapper fishery in state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

“The passage of this motion by a strong vote of 9-6 represents a historic move to include private anglers in a transparent and stakeholder driven process to determine a new management plan that will give them the flexible and sustainable access to red snapper they deserve.”

Melancon’s comment in the release was, “(The LDWF) is committed to providing increased access to our private anglers fishing for red snapper in state and federal waters off the coast of Louisiana. I’ve requested that our private recreational anglers, commercial stakeholders and Commission members provide me the opportunity to achieve our common goals, and I continue to ask for their patience and support as we move forward.”

Other LWFC meeting items include, consider a notice for a first, 30-day closed season on commercial harvest of blue crabs and to restrict commercial take of immature female blue crabs for three years (2017-2019); hearing an update from Ducks Unlimited on LDWF-funded waterfowl breeding areas in Canada; hearing an update on the specklebelly geese telemetry project; update on public comments covering black bass on the Sabine River; and, consider posting a notice to set regulations covering importation of cervid carcasses.