Thursday just was one of those scratch-your-head days.
That’s the way some folks felt after leaving state Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting Thursday.
We were wondering why, after sitting through roughly 35 minutes of a presentation about Louisiana’s recreational fishing journey through turbulent Gulf of Mexico waters filled all-too-abundantly with red snapper, that the commission’s five attending members simply didn’t give a 72-hour notice and open the recreational red snapper season off our coast.
There was more than enough reason to follow the lead in 2014 when the commission, LDWF Secretary Robert Barham and the state’s marine fisheries staff agreed to open the season Feb. 21 last year.
It’s March 8, and it appears we’ll have to wait maybe three more weeks before Barham declares the state’s recreational red snapper season open in state waters.
Two years ago, the commission granted Barham the authority to open and close this season. That state regulation was debated Thursday, and the commission took no action to alter that regulation, a rule that called for Friday-through-Sunday take of two red snapper with a 16-inch minimum size starting Palm Sunday weekend. Palm Sunday is March 28 this year.
That same regulation allows for the recreational red snapper season to run through Sept. 30 each year. A provision allows for a four-day take on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
All that laid out, the wonder in all this is that the work state marine fisheries biologists and managers did in establishing the LaCreel survey system during the last two years apparently didn’t set the commission on fire to extend the parameters for this season.
LaCreel was designed to give our state a better, quicker and more accurate count of red snapper landed in Louisiana. It’s worked, and, despite such a short time of gathering data, is an accepted, and soon to be copied, method of determining our state recreational red snapper catch.
That written, note that the commission learned Thursday that state biologists Harry Blanchet and Joey Shepard said LaCreel showed Louisiana anglers fell more than 130,000 pounds short of their historical catch during 2014, an estimated 621,353 pounds caught compared to a 14 percent historical share of 754,600 pounds. LaCreel also showed state fishermen took only 164,499 pounds during the June 1-9, 2014, federal season.
The point here is that we fell short during a season that ran more than 10 months last year, and the question today is why do we have to wait to take red snapper this year in what looks to be a much shorter season in both state and federal waters.