Speckled trout regulations yo-yo goes back to legislature

An amended Notice Of Intent (NOI) limiting the bag limit of spotted seatrout to 15 with a size of 13 inches to 20 inches will now go before a Louisiana Legislative Oversight committee.

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commissioners (LWFC) passed the amended NOI after an oversight committee refused their first November NOI. The group, in a 4-2 vote, passed the amendment Thursday, Aug. 3, in a meeting that lasted more than four hours.

Those voting for the amended NOI were Commissioners Andy Brister, Gene Reynolds, Kevin Sagrera and Brandon DeCuir. Voting against the amended NOI were Joe McPherson and Al Sunseri.

McPherson offered a separate NOI, but the motion was not voted on due to the previous motion passing.

A shot

Vice-Chairman DeCuir made the motion and said, “At least this gives us a shot of meaningful recovery.”

According to the proposed NOI, recovery time for spotted sea trout would be six years and sunset would be in 2028.

Several audience members spoke of their concerns about the speckled trout amendment, but all agreed something must be done to improve the population. One concern brought before commissioners was the loss of fish habitat, a concern that has been brought up multiple times during past meetings. Another concern was that the restrictions could possibly “cripple” the charter industry and data was not accurate. Lack of control over waste due to pogie fishing is also a serious concern.

The amendment will be published in the state register on Aug. 20 and a hearing will be held to accept public comments on Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife (LDWF) Headquarters.

Crab trap removal

Meanwhile, commissioners heard Peyton Cagle, marine fisheries biologist, explain the 2024 derelict crab trap removal.

Next year, volunteers will be working five areas. When volunteers remove the crab traps each body of water will be closed for the certain time.

Pontchartrain, Terrebonne, Vermilion-Teche, Mermentau and Barataria basins will be closed from Feb. 1 until Feb. 14.

Last year, volunteers removed 3,974 derelict crab traps from the Pontchartrain, Barataria, Terrebonne and Sabine basins.

Crabbers will be notified of the crap trap cleanup. After they have been given time to remove their traps, the remaining traps are considered abandoned.

CAD update

Additionally, commissioners received an update on LDWF Enforcement’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Electronic Ticketing System.

“We had been a paper agency before this,” said Major Dean Aucoin with LDWF enforcement division. “Public requests, citations were all hand written which led to four to five weeks before it got to the DA. This has now made us more efficient.”

According to Aucoin, upon receipt of a complaint in communications, the caller and complaint information is input into CAD. The complaint is then dispatched to the appropriate LDWF agent.

Upon apprehension of the violator, the agency can more directly move into eCitation from the CAD incident. From the eCitation, the agent can scan the violator’s drivers licenses or manually input the violator’s information into the system.

Agents can also verify license information, tags, a hunter’s education certification and criminal history.

Aucoin announced that each LDWF agent received a laptop and handheld device and said, “You would be surprised how much that improved morale with the laptop.”

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