Anglers heading out to catch red snapper in state waters later this week can now safely fish beyond the long-established 3-mile boundary and go out to 9 nautical miles from shore without fear of being ticketed by the Coast Guard - at least for now.

The ongoing battle between Louisiana and the federal government over the official state water boundary line took a turn in the state’s favor recently when the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into law in Washington, D.C.

According to a press release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Act included a provision by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) to extend Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi state waters out to 9 miles for fishery management purposes.

The 2016 red snapper fishing season in state waters will begin at 6 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 8 and remain open until further notice, the release states. The limit will remain two fish per day, with a minimum length of 16 inches.

“We are grateful for the additional provision by Senator Shelby and the recognition by Congress of the nine-mile boundary the State of Louisiana has claimed since 2012,” LDWF Secretary Robert Barham said in the release. “Because the 2016 Omnibus Appropriation Act applies to the current federal fiscal year, the nine-mile extension is only temporary. 

“However, Congressman Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) has proposed a more permanent solution through H.R. 3094; he and his bill have our agency’s full support.”

Texas and Florida have long enjoyed the 9-nautical mile state waters boundary, while the remaining Gulf states were limited to 3 nautical miles for their state boundaries. But in 2011 the Louisiana Legislature passed Act 336, which designated that state laws be enforced out to 9 miles. 

Shortly thereafter, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission officially extended state waters to 9 miles, which sometimes put offshore anglers in a “no man’s land” beyond 3 miles that were claimed by both the state and the federal government.

“I was simply correcting an injustice. If our Florida and Texas neighbors fish a nine-mile state boundary, so should Louisiana fishermen,” Barham said. “Unfortunately, it has taken over three years for action on this issue and that action is only temporary. I look forward to the day that all fishermen are treated equally across the Gulf of Mexico.”

Offshore anglers and charter captains are reminded that they must have a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit to possess red snapper. You can obtain or renew the permit for free by clicking here.

Anglers and charter captains may renew their permits up to 30 days prior to expiration. They must have a valid Louisiana fishing license number to obtain a permit, and they may use their confirmation number for a temporary (trip) permit.

Minors under 16 are not required to obtain a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit. Customers on a paid-for-hire charter trip also do not need this permit, the release states.