Feds expected to up snapper count _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOE MACALUSO A must-have for outdoorsmen Kelly Haydel found a useful product for all outdoorsmen and showed it Wednesday at this year's Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Trade Show. It's a Ray-o-Vac power supply for a cellular device. It holds four AA batteries and, when plugged into a cell phone, provided as much as four hours of power. "I put the charger and a phone cord into a Zip-Loc bag and carry it in my (shell) box," Haydel said from the Haydel's Game Call booth at the show. "If I didn't remember to charge my phone before going hunting or fishing, I have extra power in case of emergencies," he said.

With the 17-member Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council set to meet this week in Point Clear, Alabama, word from a handful of council members and council watchers is that the federal fisheries managers will reveal shortcomings in red snapper stock assessments.

For at least a decade, fisheries biologists from the five Gulf states and several universities with coastal studies programs have challenged the validity of federal MRIP data, the program National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries managers use to estimate fish populations and annual recreational catch.

States like Louisiana, which instituted its own Recreational Offshore Landing Permit program to better estimate recreational red snapper and other offshore species from federal and state waters — which also leads to more accurate estimates of fish populations — are acknowledged to have pushed federal managers to pursue methods that would better reflect red snapper numbers Louisiana recreational fishermen have been saying they’re seeing off their state’s coast.

The council’s meeting comes just days after the the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced changes to its ROLP website, changes that make it easier to apply for a fee-free permit.

LDWF’s program manager, Jason Adriance, said the website revisions will allow fishermen to get fishing license numbers and fishing license purchase confirmation numbers for first-time permit applications, along with a provision that allows family or fishing group members to be added under a single account under a single email while still getting the separate individual permits as required by LDWF regulations.

The changes also will push existing ROLP permit holders to reset passwords using the website for the first time to report catches, and that website “... usernames will change to the e-mail address associated with the account.”

Access to the site remains: wlf.la.gov/rolp.

Another change in the ROLP comes in April when fishermen 15 and younger, those who are not required to have a state basic nor saltwater fishing licenses, will become exempt from having to file for a permit.

Those who need to have a ROLP are private recreational anglers and charterboat captains and are required to have the permit when possessing all species of tuna, billfish, swordfish, amberjack, grouper, snapper, hinds, cobia, wahoo and dolphin.

Fishermen on a for-hire trips are exempt from the ROLP, because the charterboat skipper will report the catch.

For more on the ROLP, call Adriance (504) 284-2032 or email: jadriance@wlf.louisiana.gov.

For women only

Friday is the first day for women 18 and older to register for the LDWF’s 27th Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) Workshop set for March 27-29 at Cam Grant Walker near Woodworth.

Because there’s a limit of 125 set for the three-day workshop, places fill quickly. There’s a $200 registration fee that covers meals, lodging and all course materials.

Women can tailor their weekends by choosing to attend four instructor-led classes from among that list that includes shooting sports (shotguns, rifles, handguns), deer management and hunting, fly fishing, freshwater and saltwater fishing, kayaking, camping, archery, rappelling, boating and trailering, compass skills, photography and camp cooking.

Registration forms are available on the LDWF’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov/becoming-outdoors-woman.

For printed forms or for more information, call Dana Norsworthy (318) 345-3912/email: dnorsworthy@wlf.la.gov or Chad Moore (318) 230-4352/email: cmoore@wlf.la.gov.

Shrimp closures

Effective Wednesday, the only waters open for commercial and recreational shrimping will include:

The “double-rig” open waters of Breton and Chandeleur Sounds;

All state outside waters east of Caillou Boca and outside waters west of Freshwater Bayou Canal;

And, fishery jurisdiction waters claimed by the state beyond the three nautical mile closure zone.

That word came Friday from the LDWF after state marine biologists’ samplings determined that the white shrimp in remaining open waters were less than the minimum possession size limit set at 100 shrimp to the pound.

The closure took in the Lake Pontchartrain, Chef Menteur and Rigolets Passes, Lake Borgne, Mississippi Sound, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and state “outside” waters out to three nautical miles near Caillou Boca west to the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island.

Although 2014 landings have not been determined, Louisiana, with 98.8 million pounds, led the nation in 2013 shrimp landings with an estimated dockside value at $178.3 million.

Way too many ducks

Reporting game violations always comes with the word “alleged,” and it will be used to cite state Enforcement Division agents’ Jan. 18 case made against Matthew Castile, 34, from Lafayette and Jeremy Soileau, 32, from Ville Platte.

Here’s the skinny on these alleged violations: Agents reportedly watched these two men leave a pirogue on Bayou Mallet with what agents described as “... a larger stringer full of ducks and hide them behind a tree,” off La. 98 west of Iota.

The Wildlife and Fisheries’ report continued: “Castile and Soileau carried their pirogue up the bank to Castile’s truck with another load of ducks. Agents made contact with Castile and Soileau and were able to retrieve the hidden ducks. Agents found the men with a total of 46 ducks consisting of 26 teal, 11 wood ducks, eight mallards and one pintail. The men also didn’t possess a PFD in the pirogue. The legal limit of ducks is six in aggregate per person per day making the men 34 ducks over the limit.”

It’s really more than that because there’s an individual daily limit of three wood ducks.

Castile and Soileau were cited for over the limit, wanton waste of migratory game birds and failing to comply with life jacket regulations. Their activity could be costly because the migratory waterfowl violations carry fines between $400-$950 and up to 120 days in jail.