Don’t hesitate this month. Point the bow of your boat directly toward this perennial winter hotspot.
Kudos to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission.
The seven-member regulatory body voted unanimously last month to reject resolutions that would have conformed Louisiana’s regulations with those of the federal government for several offshore species of fish.
It’s about time.
Until the November vote, the commission had been a dutiful foot soldier, always marching in lock-step with the feds, despite the latter’s abysmal track record in Gulf fisheries management.
But that changed when the commission refused to follow federal regulations for grouper, red snapper and amberjack in state waters.
You might think the commission’s actions would have been blasted by conservation organizations, but quite the opposite occurred.
“I was thrilled with the unanimous vote of the commission,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “When the states stand up to federal mismanagement, that’s a good thing.”
The Coastal Conservation Association also heralded the move.
The problem is that the numbers the federal government is using to dictate its regulations are bogus.
“The data is laughably bad,” Angers said. “The National Research Council called it ‘fatally flawed.’”
Yet that very data is being used to destroy offshore fishing. It’s getting to where you have to be either independently wealthy or mentally challenged to fill your boat with fuel and run to the big water to catch what? An ice chest full of triggerfish and dozens of snapper and grouper that you have to throw back? No thank you.
Now, if the fisheries were really in danger, the commission’s action would be short-sighted and reckless. But no legitimate science exists that suggests red snapper, grouper and amberjack are on the brink of collapse.
It’s always dangerous to rely on anecdotal evidence for fisheries management, but offshore anglers are routinely reporting more red snapper than they’ve ever seen.
Even so, the garbage data being entered into federal formulas keeps spitting out decreased season lengths and bag limits.
The state has proven itself far more adept at managing fisheries, and the commission proclaimed that from the rooftops with its November vote.
It’s just a shame its jurisdiction extends only three miles out.