Come Thursday morning, inshore recreational fishermen and shrimpers west of the Mississippi River will not be plying the same waters for their respective catches.
As of sunset Wednesday, the fall shrimp season in inside waters and parts of the state outside waters will be closed. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ secretary Robert Barham announced the closure late last week.
The announcement identified the closure to include:
• All of the state’s inside waters from the eastern shore of South Pass of the Mississippi River west to the Louisiana/Texas state line;
• That part of the state outside waters from the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island west to Freshwater Bayou Canal. For shrimping, the state’s “outside” waters extend three nautical miles from the inside/outside shrimp line into the Gulf of Mexico.
Barham’s statement left open to shrimping waters east of South Pass to the Louisiana-Mississippi state line; outside waters east of the Atchafalaya River Ship Channel at Eugene Island and west of the western shore of Freshwater Bayou Canal; and, “All fishery jurisdiction waters claimed by the state beyond the three nautical mile closure zone.”
State marine surveys were used to justify the closure: Those surveys and test samples indicated that the average size of white shrimp in the soon-to-be-closed waters were smaller than the mandated 100-to-the-pound count, and the closure is designed to protect the small shrimp to grow to marketable sizes during the next months.
The announcement also carried a report that Louisiana led the country in shrimp landings in 2012. According to the report, nearly 5,600 licensed Louisiana commercial shrimpers landed 100.3 million pounds of shrimp. That figure includes all shrimp species combined with heads-on weight. The catch, according to the LDWF report, had a dockside value of $145 million.