Recently enacted state law demands the recreational red snapper season in state waters open no later than March 24, but state Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Jack Montoucet has postponed the season.

Montoucet and certain members of his marine fisheries staff have asked the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to “delay considering this topic until the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) approves an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application submitted by the agency.”

The EFP is a hot topic. It was proposed in the late quarter of 2017 by federal fisheries managers and each of the five Gulf states had to draw up a proposal outlining the methods by which each would manage the recreational red snapper catch for this year and in 2019.

Without the EFP, recreational fishermen faced the possibility of no red snapper season in federal waters. State waters run out to nine miles into the Gulf of Mexico, and federal waters pick up at that mark and run out to 200 miles.

Louisiana’s EFP appears headed for approval by federal managers, and puts the LWFC in charge of setting season dates and per-angler, per-day catch limits, and would apply to both state and federal waters.

Released earlier this year, the state’s EFP seeks a May 25 opening day (the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend), and also identified the state’s annual catch at 1.1 million pounds combined for the private recreational sector and for-hire charterboat operations, and plans to monitor catch rates with its federally approved LA Creel system.

A plan in 2017 allowed a 39-day recreational season, after a three-day federal season, and using LA Creel, state managers determined the state came up well short of the 1.1 million-pound quota when the seasons ended on Labor Day.

No sharks

The commercial season on large coastal sharks closed in state waters Tuesday to coincide with the closure in federal waters, and the season will remain closed for the rest of the calendar year, unless the vessel has a federal shark research permit.

Note, too, a closed season on all sharks runs April through June in state waters, and the commercial season on small coastal sharks in state waters opens July 1.

Flood closures

For all intents and purposes, the entire Grassy Lake Wildlife Management Area in Avoyelles Parish is closed due to flooding.

And the LDWF also announced 14 roads closed on the Richard Yancey WMA in Concordia Parish.

Roads on these and other WMAs hit by flooding will reopen, LDWF managers said, after inspection and repairs make roads safe for travel.

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