The public has a few more days to comment on a notice of intent that would allow anglers lodging at the newly constructed Port Eads Marina Facility to have up to a three-day possession limit of cleaned saltwater finfish with them on the water.
The newly renovated $15 million facility, which held its grand opening over the Memorial Day weekend, is located on South Pass about 21 miles from Venice.
Randy Pausina, head of fisheries for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said if the proposal were to eventually be approved by the Wildlife and Fisheries Commision, any additional possession limits allowed to anglers staying at Port Eads would max out at three days.
“If you could demonstrate you had a two night’s stay and have a receipt, you could have a two-day possession limit,” Pausina said. “If you had a three night’s stay, you could have a three-day possession limit.
“But that’s the cap - nothing higher than that.”
Public comments on the proposal will be accepted via email through Friday, Aug. 1 by Jason Adriance, LDWF’s finfish program manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pausina said some people have been critical of making an exception to the possession limits only for people staying at Port Eads rather than at other isolated private camps across the state.
The difference, he said, is that it’s a public facility.
“Since Port Eads has been coming to ask us about this, we said, ‘It’s got to be a public marina. Anybody has got to be able to stay there,’” Pausina said. “Once that was established, then it’s a marina like Venice Marina or Cypress Cove. It just happens to be water-locked.
“So given that, it’s not a private camp. It’s a public marina, and it’s different.”
According to the Port Eads website, space is available on either a per room or per bed basis, with a bed per night going for $125 or an exclusive room costing $625 per night.
Pausina said the way the system would work would be dependent on a Wildlife and Fisheries employee at Port Eads who would observe and record daily catch and cleaning activity.
“You would have a state employee observe you with the fish, watch you count them and clean them and give you some sort of certificate that would also be recorded in the log at the marina,” he said. “Plus you would need the receipt that you paid for lodging there.”
Pausina said many details would have to be finalized if the Commission were to approve the proposal at its August meeting, including how the cleaned fish would be packaged, labeled and identified for enforcement agents to verify the numbers.
“Now could enforcement guys ID all these different types of species filleted? Some people claim they can, but I doubt it seriously,” Pausina said. “At that point it would be really just counting.”
Pausina said he thinks the proposal will be hard-pressed to pass the Commission as is, but said allowing increased possession limits at Port Eads could be an important first step in potentially providing increased possession limits to private camp owners elsewhere.
“If the state ever want to seriously look at some program to help people with isolated camps, this is the first logical step. If the people of the state are not interested in, that’s fine,” he said. “But it sounds like to me overwhelmingly even the critics are very interested in it, but this doesn’t help their situation with their camp, so they want to throw stones at it.
“I think it’s all doable, but it’s a tremendous task that’s pretty complicated and will take some technology to figure out. The easy thing is to say, ‘No, we can’t do it.’ The hard thing is for all of us is to work creatively to figure out how we can do this. Because at the end of the day, if we can do this for everybody, it would be a good thing.”