OK all you offshore anglers, don’t push the panic button. At least not yet: Please read on to find out the latest buzz about what you might — or might not — be required to do next year.
During Thursday’s Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the state Marine Fisheries folks put forth a Notice of Intent that would require anyone catching a swordfish, any species of tuna and any billfish, to have something the state biologists and fisheries managers call a “Recreational Offshore Landing Permit” if the angler wants to bring any of these fish to a Louisiana port.
This is in addition to the Federal Recreational Tuna Permit offshore fishermen must have if they have any in a group of bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack tuna or an albacore on their boat.
This move carried a laundry list of regulations, the last of which was that the vessel — charter or recreational — must report the impending landing of these fish in Louisiana before off-loading the fish.
Presumably this will be done in the same way deer hunters report taking a deer (though deer hunters have seven days to make that report) by calling a toll-free telephone number to tell the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries you’ve caught one of these fish to take to your table.
There will be no cost for this permit. Fishermen will be able to get permits from current Louisiana fishing/hunting vendors. The permit will run concurrent with all fishing licenses — all annual Louisiana licenses expire June 30.
“We need to know who is targeting and catching these fish,” LDWF assistant secretary Randy Pausina said. “These are important fish to recreational anglers and we are not getting enough information on what is happening in these specific fisheries.”
Pausina said these notices (two were needed to cover all the bases) were to provide state biologists with the necessary information to send along to federal managers to prove the state has a better handle on the catch rates and the resource than to the feds.
He said that because these fish are not caught in great quantities the numbers will be easy to get and present federal fisheries managers with information they are unable to obtain.
The commission’s reaction was appropriate: LWFC chairman Stephen Sagrera entertained a motion to delay presenting the notices until the commission meeting Dec. 1 in Baton Rouge.
While Pausina told the commission he believes the pool of affected fishermen “to be a few thousand,” Sagrera said he wants to hear from them before the 120-day comment period begins its run after a notice gets commission approval.
While the intent is noble, the application is suspect if only because the feds have been so unreceptive to any move that undercuts their authority.
Pausina’s email: email@example.com.