The future of recreational anglers' pursuit of red snapper off the Louisiana coast is squarely in the hands of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Robert Barham.
That was the outcome of a lengthy presentation by state marine biologists during Thursday's Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting in Baton Rouge.
The commission took no action on setting a recreational re snapper season. Instead, the five attenting commission members decided to let stand the current state regulations which allows Barham to open, then adjust, a recreational red snapper season that will open the Saturday before Palm Sunday -- March 28 this year -- and run Friday-through-Sunday periods only through Sept. 30 with a two-per-angler daily creel limit with a 16-inch minimum size on the species.
The state rule also allows the LDWF seceretary to modify the length of the season.
State biologists Harry Blanchet and Joey Shepard told the commission that the LDWF's LaCreel survey shows Louisiana anglers fell more than 130,000 pounds short of their historical catch during 2014. LaCreel numbers produced by the state team showed Louisiana recreational fishermen brought in an estimated 621,353 pounds last year, far short of the 14-percent historical recreational catch for Louisiana anglers from the 14-percent total allowable catch of 754,600 pounds.
LaCreel data also showed the recreational take during the nine-day federal season that ran from June 1-9 last year was estimated at 164,499, or 456,854 pounds short of the take during 2014's season that ran nearly 10 months and ended Dec. 31.
After the meeting adjourned, the LDWF's Marine Fisheries Section confirmed Barham will have an announcement abut the opening of the recreational red snapper season in the coming weeks.