By the first week in March, the state law that will allow fishermen to dine on their own catch in a restaurant should be up and running.
Louisiana’s Catch-and-Cook Program, approved by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries at its monthly meeting Thursday in Baton Rouge, has a series of regulations, the end result of which finally lets registered eateries prepare fish for customers who caught the fish.
State Wildlife and Fisheries’ manager Robert Bourgeois said permits for restaurants to participate in the program will be ready for applicants Feb. 20, shortly after the program rules are published in the State Register.
Restaurants, and fishermen presenting their catch to those establishments, will have to abide by program rules set by several state agencies and boards.
The commission also voted to go into executive sessions to discuss what the Louisiana Legislative Auditor labeled a “confidential preliminary report on Louisiana Oyster Lease Practices.” The only reason for the behind-closed-doors discussion was the “confidential” nature of the report, and that the Auditor’s Office had asked for commission response. Assurances came from the LDWF staff that the report would be made public.
Commission member Bart Yakupzack from Lake Charles introduced a motion that the LWFC draft a letter to the Auditor’s Office indicating they would not consider oyster-lease action until the report was made public. The move was seconded and passed.
Other commission action included:
Hearing a Fisheries Division report that state marine biologists concluded that stocks of striped mullet, black drum, southern flounder and sheepshead in state waters are not overfished “... nor or undergoing overfishing,” biologist Jason Adriance said. Included was a discussion about the increased take of flounder from the Calcasieu Lake;
Amending and passing final rules for the state’s Fisheries Forward Program for crab gear requirements, a plan that sets forth a mentoring program for fishermen interested in entering the commercial crabbing;
Hearing the first public comments on the proposed 2015-2016 resident-game hunting seasons. Seven of the 14 public comments objected to a new regulation limiting the horsepower of surface drive-powered boats on the Biloxi Wildlife Management Area;
Hearing a presentation about the inner workings of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ first Louisiana Black Bear Management Plan;
Learning that Enforcement Division agents issued 1,132 citations and 55 written warnings, and the division’s investigations into five boating accidents, none involving fatalities, during January;
And, setting its June meeting date for June 4 in Baton Rouge.