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Austin Aucoin, of Morgan City, holds a red snapper during second day of the annual International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo on July 26, 2019.

Numbers from what’s being called “The Great Red Snapper Count” were presented early last week to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and the numbers should be enough to throw the most recent federal red snapper counts into a paper shredder.

When the money came to involve more than 21 marine scientists from 12 colleges, universities and marine institutes, the estimates of the Gulf of Mexico’s red snapper population is three times what the federal folks have used (through the Gulf Council) to set quotas on recreational fishermen.

This study estimated there are 29 million 2-year-old-plus red snapper off Louisiana’s coast, second only to the 48 million estimated to live off Florida’s coast. Texas has 23 million, and there’s a count of 10 million combining Mississippi and Alabama waters (which furthers a hint that Alabama’s insistence on its for-hire fleet making a living off the Alabama coast might be a bit far-fetched).

Last week’s Gulf Council update far understated the point Louisiana’s offshore anglers have been making for years.

To quote: “These estimates of red snapper abundance are much higher than previously estimated through the Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review stock assessment process. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee will review the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s plan for integrating the results of the Great Red Snapper Count into an interim analysis for red snapper at its January 2021 meeting.”

Review what? Integrating flawed data the feds have been dealing out for years?

The council’s plan is for its Scientific and Statistical Committee to “complete the review of the study and recommend updated catch level recommendations to the Council for its April, 2021 meeting.”

The question is whether there will be a recommendation to increase the annual quota in time for a Gulf-wide expansion of harvest for 2021.

Don’t hold your breath.

Calling all birders

Saturday is a big day for birdwatchers across south Louisiana. The Burden Museum and Gardens on Essen Lane near the I-10 exit will open and dedicate six birding loops at the LSU Rural Life Museum.

Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. with guided watching tours beginning at 8 a.m. The dedication ceremony is set for 9:30 a.m. and will be complete with brief seminars on birds and bird watching.

There’s no fee, but you must register on Eventbrite: birdingatburden.eventbrite.com.

Masks and social distancing will be required.

For more, call (225) 763-3990, or go to this website: discoverburden.com.

Lake Martin access

Good news for the folks who want access to Lake Martin, the impoundment near Breaux Bridge, and 800 acres of water surrounded by private land.

Louisiana’s Wildlife and Fisheries “owns” the lake, but access has been difficult after private landowners blocked access for fear of lawsuits.

On Monday, the LDWF reached an agreement with the Chauffe-Hebert family to allow access to the lake at a publicly built boat launch and parking area, which has been blocked off since March 1.

The LDWF filed suit against the family, and Monday’s agreement will keep the launch open until, according to the LDWF, “the merits of the lawsuit are resolved or LDWF and the family reach a permanent agreement.”

Oyster plan

Wildlife and Fisheries’ staff has extended to Friday the public comment period for Louisiana Oyster Management and Rehabilitation Strategic Plan draft.

According to LDWF managers, the request is for comment “from all coastal stakeholders. The 2019 oyster stock assessment indicates that Louisiana is experiencing the lowest stock size in the public oyster areas ever recorded, according to the Strategic Plan draft.”

The agency’s staff outlined several points to account for the low production including “hydrology, extreme weather events, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill/response activities, harvest pressure, and most notably, the 2018-2019 Mississippi River flooding event.”

The plan cane be read on the agency’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov/assets/Resources/Publications/Oyster/Oyster-Strategic-Plan-Public-Notice-Draft.pdf.

To comment, contact Carolina Bourque via email: cbourque@wlf.la.gov or mail: Carolina Bourque, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898.

One comment from here would be to make oyster leaseholders show they’re producing oysters on their leases and not holding what could be productive oysters areas for other reasons.

Big reward

LDWF’s Enforcement Division needs any information that could lead to the person or persons who killed black bear in St. Mary Parish in early November.

According to the report, a dead 350-pound adult male bear was found off of Log Bayou Road near Centerville, and later found out it was killed by a rifle bullet.

There’s $8,500 in rewards for tips leading “to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the illegal killing of this black bear.

Tips can be turned in to the Louisiana Operation Game Thief 24-hour hotline (800) 442-2511.