After a LouisianaSportsman.com user announced online he had gotten a ticket from the Coast Guard while fishing for red snapper beyond state waters last weekend, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is reminding offshore anglers of the risk of venturing beyond the currently recognized 3-mile boundary.
“We both claim it. The State of Louisiana claims to 9 miles and the feds claim to within 3 miles, so it’s kind of a no-man’s land,” said Randy Pausina, head of fisheries for LDWF. “When we announce those state water seasons, we try to disclaim that you’re going to be fishing out there at your own risk until this is officially settled, whether it’s in court or in Congress.
“You do run the risk of getting a ticket by the Coast Guard, which obviously has nothing better to do.”
In June, 2012, the LDWF Commission took action to extend Louisiana state waters from 3 miles offshore to 3 marine leagues, or approximately 9 nautical miles.
But until the U.S. Congress confirms Louisiana’s actions, Pausina said the battle will continue over the state’s offshore boundary.
“Well, it’s going to take an act of Congress, and there are several bills by various authors from along the Gulf Coast that attack this from a bunch of different ways,” Pausina said. “But there’s no indication that any of them are going to get heard by this Congress, so maybe next year we can try again.”
LouisianaSportsman.com user llcrew said he was about 6 miles off the coast last Saturday when a Coast Guard cutter out of Gulfport wrote him up for fishing beyond state waters.
“The guys were nice as could be,” he wrote. “He said he didn’t know what was going to be the outcome of the ticket, but said he would be surprised if it came down to having to pay or go to court...
“He said he was writing everyone he saw fishing that day — said it was his job.”
Louisiana’s weekend-only red snapper season opened in February and will continue until further notice. A weekend is defined as Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the exception of Memorial Day and Labor Day, when Monday will be included as well, according to LDWF.
State officials encourage fishermen to use caution and their own personal judgement when fishing beyond the 3-mile boundary which is currently recognized as the start of federal waters, as it is fully expected that federal agents will continue to enforce federal law.
Anglers also are reminded that a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit is required in order to possess certain species, including red snapper. You can obtain or renew a permit free of charge by clicking here.
The 40-day red snapper recreational season, when the state's official boundary line no longer matters, is scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m June 1 and close at 12:01 a.m. on July 11.