Coastal Conservation Association sues over red snapper issue _lowres

Photo provided by CHRIS MACALUSO Parker Rhinehart hefts a near 20-pound albino blue catfish taken last weekend on a jug line in the batture of the Mississippi River. The 15-year-old Runnels School student spent the morning with his dad, Kirk, and his younger brother, Garrett, tending lines along the flooded river. Their catch included blue, channel and flathead catfish.

After NOAA Fisheries approved Reef Fish Amendment 40, a move to separate a charterboat quota from the annual allowed recreational take of Gulf of Mexico red snapper, the Coastal Conservation Association announced Wednesday that it has filed suit to halt the move in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Amendment 40, set to begin June 1, divides the recreational red snapper component (49 percent of the overall allowable annual take) into a recreational sector, which will receive 57.7 percent of that 49 percent, and a “... federal for-hire component, which is comprised of all for-hire operators with a valid or renewable federal reef fish charter vessel/headboat permit” that will receive 42.3 percent of recreational take.

The federal announcement also carried the note that each of these two components of the recreational portion will end, “... when the individual component’s annual catch target is projected to be caught.”

Federal managers also explained that 20-percent “buffer” is factored into the recreational take to arrive at the recreational “annual catch target.” The recreational season will be announced by early May. Amendment 40 has a three-year sunset provision.

CCA’s response to “sector separation” was based on the association’s belief that Amendment 40 penalizes private recreational fishermen for the benefit of the charterboat and for-hire businesses, based mostly in Florida and Alabama.

“Amendment 40 embodies everything that is wrong with federal management of our marine resources. It is completely out of step with this nation’s heritage of wildlife resource management,” CCA sppkesman Bill Bird said.

“It has been overwhelmingly opposed at every step in the process, but a very small minority has been allowed to manipulate the system to their personal advantage.”

CCA further claimed the new rule “... constitutes agency action that is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, not in accordance with law and in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations.”

Road closure

A note from a Plaquemine resident warns that La. 75, better known as Belleview Road, will be closed from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.

Big cats

Kirk Rhinehart is always looking for a place to take his sons, Parker and Garrett, fishing, and found a just-right spot amidst all the rain and high water of the last week.

They’re fishing in the spring floodwaters in the batture of the Mississippi River with jug lines, a method documented as being used by American Indians as far back as the first European settlers to land in south Louisiana.

And Saturday, the Rhineharts had something to celebrate, something more than the handful of giant blue and flathead catfish they landed.

It was an albino blue catfish.

“That was a cool fish, the first white catfish I’ve ever seen,” Papa Kirk said. “I’ve seen some that were piebald, blotchy, but this one was pure white and had dark, reddish eyes. It was cool, too, that we caught a smaller flathead catfish on the same line.

“We’ve been juglining for a bunch of years, but this is the first year we’ve tried on the river levee when the water is up,” he continued. “It’s chance to catch flatheads, which is a fish we don’t see a lot here.”

Silencers

Ever since the State Legislature approved silencers to hunt feral hogs in Louisiana, hunters and landowners have had questions about how adaptive and effective this equipment can be.

From 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Hunter’s Run Gun Club in Port Allen, SilencerCo representative Jim York and other staffers will answer those questions and allow shooters to fire weapons as part of its Quiet Riot Tour.

“We’ll have all the products in our line, everything from 22 (caliber), rimfire and shotguns,” York said.

State and federal regulations will be covered. Jim’s Firearms is the supporting dealer.