Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Robert Barham holds the key to the 2015 recreational red snapper season.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission did that when it took no action after a lengthy presentation from state marine biologists.
The five attending members of the seven-man commission decided to let stand current state regulations that 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-Sunday periods only through Sept. 30 with a two-per-angler daily creel limit with a 16-inch minimum size on the species.
Exceptions to the three-day “seasons” allow for four-day runs on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holiday weekends.
State biologists Harry Blanchet and Joey Shepard told the commission that the LDWF’s now two-year-old 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. That allowance from the Gulf’s total allowable recreational catch is 754,600 pounds.
LaCreel data also showed the recreational take during the nine-day, June 1-9, federal season 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 about the opening of the recreational red snapper season in the coming weeks.
The commission also heard a report from State Waterfowl Study leader Larry Reynolds, who outlined a dramatic shift in the way states and the country’s four flyway councils will interact with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in setting future waterfowl seasons.
Reynolds said the 2016-2017 migratory waterfowl and migratory bird seasons frameworks will be ready for state action at the same time state wildlife managers announce resident-game seasons. Those dates are presented to the commission each February.
Other commission action included:
Telling Reynolds to come back to the commission for its April 2 meeting with options for distribution of the state’s annual donation to improve waterfowl habitat in northern breeding areas;
Approving a March 16 opening of state oyster grounds and public seed grounds north of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. The move came despite objections from as many as seven oystermen from St. Bernard Parish;
Approving an extension of a Declaration of Emergency for the Louisiana Fisheries Forward Program until final regulations can be ratified. State fisheries manager Jason Froeba said regulations should be finalized for the commission’s May 7 meeting;
Re-establishing the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area in north Louisiana as part of the state’s WMA program;
Learning state Enforcement Agents issued 691 citations, and worked three boating accidents, including one fatality, during February;
And, approving its July meeting date for July 2 in Baton Rouge.