Randy Pausina, who led the state’s battle with federal regulators over red snapper and other marine fisheries issues, will not retain his position in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration.
Charlie Melancon, Edwards’ choice to head the LDWF, confirmed Wednesday that Pausina will not be retained in the position of assistant secretary for fisheries.
Pausina said he will continue in that job until Melancon decides on a replacement. Pausina said he is considering remaining in the LDWF’s Fisheries Division but is considering other options.
“He (Melancon) deserves to choose (his staff),” Pausina said. “That’s how I was moved into this position.”
Pausina, a marine biologist elevated to the position by then LDWF secretary Robert Barham, took the lead in establishing LA Creel, a program developed to more accurately estimate recreational catch from state and federal waters.
Pausina also led the move to establish a expanded recreational red snapper season in state waters.
Melancon described Pausina as “high strung” and said there were both internal and external pressures to remove him, that “... in any administration there will be daily disagreements and you will rub somebody the wrong way.
“Randy and I had good conversation, and he said it looked like he had another job offer,” Melancon said. “I told him that (another job offer) would solve both of our problems, because, I said, ‘I did not want to have to bump you down.’ I have not looked for nor come up with a name.”
The “bump down” reference is the avenue afforded someone in Pausina’s position. After being elevated to assistant secretary, Pausina, like others, could return to the job held before the temporary promotion.
Melancon said removing Pausina will not alter the department’s stance on red snapper issues, nor on the change in the 9-mile limit declaration for state waters instead of the 3-mile limit into the Gulf of Mexico that’s been the accepted boundary between state and federal waters for decades.
“I commend Robert Barham and Randy for those efforts,” Melancon said.
Melancon also will have to replace Jimmy Anthony, who holds the assistant secretary for wildlife position, in the LDWF. Anthony, a 40-year employee, announced he would retire in March, and Melancon said he asked Anthony to stay on in that job until Melancon can find a replacement.
“I’m looking for someone who has familiarity with the agency and policy,” Melancon said. “It’s not just a matter of knowledge. We have great scientists here on both the wildlife and fisheries sides, but I need someone I can count on on the political and policy issues.”
Barham confirmed Wednesday that he will become the new State Parks director Feb. 1.